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Social Capitalists: Pioneer Human Services

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
2007 Social Capitalist Winner

Pioneer Human Services

Seattle, WA
Year founded: 1963
CEO: Michael Burns

This year, Pioneer, will help more than 15,000 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 As 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 10 social enterprises, Pioneer's operations include assembly, packaging, catering, sheet metal fabrication, precision machining, and construction products and services for commercial customers. Pioneer has earned the trust of customers such as Nintendo, Hobart, Genie, Boeing, and Starbucks, and many others. 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 the ability of a nonprofit to run competitive businesses and the perceived ability of our workforce--people on the margins of society. But in 2005, Pioneer's outplacement program found livable wage jobs for 768 of our clients and developed 64 new employer contacts--and a full 79 percent 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 re-entry 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 43 years we've really just begun. Thanks to a strong infrastructure, diverse sources of earned income, and solid growth prospects that promise to create economies of scale, the future holds opportunity for greater impact and innovation at Pioneer. Pioneer has 47 locations throughout the state of Washington. Over the next year, we will develop low cost housing in Spokane. Thereafter, we plan to acquire a business in eastern Washington to provide employment/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 to establish programs in Oregon and Idaho.

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