Pioneer Human Services: Winner's Statement

Social Capitalists

Pioneer Human Services

Seattle, Washington

President and CEO: Michael Burns

What it does: Pioneer helps "people on the margins of society" stay out of prison and off the streets through an integrated combination of services, including job training and placement, youth and family counseling, housing, and chemical-dependency treatment. To fund its programs, it runs profitable businesses such as precision sheet-metal fabrication, aerospace machining, and retail cafés.

Results: In 2004, Pioneer served more than 8,000 people; in all, its 48 sites in Washington have helped more than 100,000 former offenders, homeless people, and drug and alcohol abusers.

Social impact: B+ Aspiration and growth: B Entrepreneurship: A Innovation: A- Sustainability: A-

Winner's Statement

What do holiday sales of the Nintendo DS Game BoyTM system have to do with the ability of ex-offenders and drug abusers to turn their lives around? Because of Pioneer Human Services, there's a surprisingly strong connection between the two. This year, Pioneer, in meeting its mission, will help more than 10,000 people on the margins of society overcome multiple hurdles: finding low cost housing, overcoming addictions, obtaining job training, and securing employment.

Pioneer provides businesses and individuals with the rare opportunity to help re-knit our social fabric without donating a dime. As we are social entrepreneurs, we're not looking for contributions; we simply want the opportunity to compete for and win contracts to provide quality work and services.

A conglomerate of 12 social enterprises, Pioneer's operations include assembly, packaging, catering, sheet-metal fabrication, precision machining, and construction products and services for our commercial customers. With each contract, we train and employ "at risk" people and prove that they have untapped potential and, given the chance for change, can be dedicated, loyal, and efficient employees and contributing members of society. Two of our biggest challenges are overcoming stereotypes about whether a nonprofit can run competitive businesses and the perceived ability of our workforce—people on the margins of society.

Nintendo of America hired Pioneer's contract services to package 700,000 DS Game Boys in just two months last holiday season. Pioneer met all expectations of quality and delivery and was praised by Nintendo. This project alone provided thousands of hours of work for the people Pioneer serve—and more than $900,000 in revenue.

Besides Nintendo, Pioneer has also earned the trust of a number of nationally recognized customers such as Boeing, Starbucks, as well as many others.

In 2004, Pioneer's outplacement program found livable wage jobs for 334 of our clients with 83 employers. Noteworthy is the fact that an astounding 73% of the people placed were successful in their new employment.

With an operating budget of $60 million generated almost entirely (99%) from earned-income, we have the ability to identify needs and implement new programs quickly and effectively. Our Chance for ChangeTM program is a complete and integrated circle of wraparound services— which include training, counseling, housing, drug and alcohol treatment, job placement and reentry services—depending on the needs of the individual. This direct access to a comprehensive array of integrated services sets Pioneer apart from other social-services providers and increases our effectiveness.

After 42 years we've really just begun. Thanks to a strong infrastructure, diverse sources of earned income, and solid growth prospects that will create economies of scale, the future holds opportunity for greater impact and innovation at Pioneer. As a result of a recent acquisition, Pioneer has grown from 36 to 48 locations throughout the state of Washington.

Over the next two years, we will develop low-cost housing in Spokane. Thereafter, we plan to acquire a business in eastern Washington to provide jobs/training opportunities for the people we are serving through our work releases, housing, and the involuntary chemical-dependency treatment center we operate in Spokane. Our goal is to expand our wraparound services statewide and eventually establish programs in Oregon and Idaho.

If you would like to learn more about Pioneer's rich history; diverse services to people on the margins of society; and our long list of accomplishments and recognition, visit us on the Web.

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The above Winner's Statement was provided by the profiled organization.