Social Impact Hiring

Many corporations have broad commitments to Social Responsibility.  This ranges from their environmental efforts of lowering energy costs and providing natural products to providing donations and employee time to worthwhile community causes.  Perhaps one of the greatest impacts a corporation can have on their community and society is through their hiring practices. Providing benefits, promotion and training opportunities, and family-friendly workplaces can be very significant.  All of these practices are reported and analyzed in corporate public information press releases and newsletters. 


Helping the COmmunity at Large 

The impact to society when a low-income, vulnerable population gets employed is tremendous and it is largely overlooked in Corporate Responsibility Reports.  Most significant is the impact a company has when it hires individuals who have been in the variety of publicly supported systems.  Those in the criminal justice system, on public assistance, food stamps, child support, and social security disability, living in public housing, the homeless and those on Medicaid can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to the taxpayer.  The public dollars do not capture the ripple effects of the costs to children and families, the increase in crime, and the breakdown in communities.  

Career Pathways

Corporations that provide young people and adults from these populations with employment training and career pathways create a vast social impact on communities and society. The Work First Foundation has developed an assessment tool to analyze the social and fiscal impact of companies who target their hiring towards vulnerable populations. This assessment tool demonstrates the return on the investment in savings to the local community and to society at large. The model analyzes both the costs savings in public dollars and the return on investment to the local community.  

Wage Subsidy Programs Lead to Job Creation

The Work First Foundation’s New York City Wage Subsidy Program boasts an 83% retention rate. Clients are hired by partner employers and temporarily paid by the Work First Foundation. This payment structure creates job opportunities as it allows employers to hire multiple employees where they would traditionally hire one. Employers train the subsidized workers in job-specific skills creating a more valuable candidate. These candidates have been hired at companies in a variety of industries and their training provides the opportunity for timely upward mobility.

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Freedom to Work Project

The Work First Foundation will study the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program, which aims to move recipients of SSI/SSDI into long-term employment, thereby removing them from the benefits rolls. The dramatically understudied program was designed (as explained in the following) as part of the U.S. government’s efforts to reduce the disability payments after decades of increasing enrollments and expenditures, putting SSDI on the precipice of insolvency.  


Ticket to Work Review

The Freedom to Work Project will examine the policy implications of the fastest growing dependency programs in our country, Social Security Disability Insurance/Supplemental Security Income. The Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program was created by the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (the Act). The Act established a voluntary program in which SSI/SSDI beneficiaries (blind, and disabled persons) with a virtual “ticket” or voucher to utilize free vocational rehabilitation and employment services (career counseling, job placement, ongoing employment support, etc.) from state “vocational rehabilitation agencies” or private “employment network (EN)” operators. The goal was and is to help eligible beneficiaries (between the ages of 18-64) find self-supporting employment and financial independence, resulting in their ultimate removal from the disability payrolls. The EN’s are provided cash payments for performance outcomes determined by work-related successes of the beneficiaries. After the beneficiary is earning income at a predetermined level and for a
predetermined time-period, the EN receives payment from the Social Security Administration. 


The original payment structure, however, met challenges as both beneficiaries and ENs were not sufficiently incentivized to participate. The program was amended in 2008, revising the payment structure to for the ENs, as well as providing more money to beneficiaries who are making progress towards self-sufficient employment but do not yet make enough income to be removed from benefits. Additional “work incentives” also enable beneficiaries to maintain Medicaid and Medicare, while they transition to self-sufficiency, and in some cases, after they are off of SSDI/SSI benefits. In 2011, the Government Accountability Office reviewed the program, and found that while participation increased after the 2008 reforms, participation rates remain low overall, finding less than 1% of ticket holders assigned their tickets to employment networks In our proposed summit, the WFF will research the most recent data to examine effect of the reforms on the overall program and SSI/SSDI system.

How Work Reduces Recidivism and Ends The Cycle of Crime

Ex-offenders who went through the Work First Foundation Baltimore Re-Entry Program have a 20% recidivism rate compared to a 67% national rate. The Foundation has identified that work steers people away from falling back into a life of crime, and is eager to replicate this model on a national scale.

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Bail Reform

The Work First Foundation continues to review criminal justice reform and employment as an alternative to bail and incarceration.  The Foundation recognizes employment as a potential alternative to an antiquated bail system.

Work Force Development Best Practices

Most policy research today on employment is done by academics who favor analyzing large data bases. But these analyses, however sophisticated, are of limited interest to government because they say little about how to improve outcomes. One may show that the benefits the government might provide would improve outcomes, but that says little about the value of the programs government actually has. Very little research has been conducted on how successful employment programs operate.  

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In an effort to provide information on the recipe for a successful employment program, we investigate program data in which we document and interview staff to find out how they process clients. Employment agencies can provide us with valuable feedback on a program's effectiveness. Programs that perform well in terms of measured outcomes, such as jobs, will often have a distinctive operating style. The research style is closer to journalism than high-tech social science. Through this research effort, we approach staff with a list of questions and get them to describe what they do and what seems to work and not work. This results in a thorough analysis of the techniques and methods that are deemed "best practices" in the field of employment.