Community Jobs Initiative

Community Jobs Initiative: Creating opportunities to bring marginalized workers into the workforce and fostering initiatives that demonstrate the effectiveness of alternative approaches to creating economic opportunity for disadvantaged populations.

ICA’s staffing companies take a different approach…

ICA’s Staffing Services Initiative is an important focus of our Community Jobs work. ICA established this Initiative in 1996 as a strategy to link unemployed and underemployed individuals with limited work experience and education to entry-level jobs that offer prospects for advancement and longer-term stability.

Recognizing temporary help as the fastest growing segment of the American workforce, ICA pursued a model that would charge market-rate fees and deliver value to employers while helping marginalized job seekers succeed in the workplace.

Temporary employment offers entry-level workers a way to build their resume, develop skills and self-confidence, and experience an occupation while demonstrating their value to potential employers. Unfortunately, less skilled and otherwise disadvantaged job seekers are poorly served by conventional staffing agencies that often lack the capacity and market incentive to provide the worker supports they need.

Individuals without substantial work experience frequently find themselves caught between a staffing agency that employs them and a client company that essentially rents them, with neither business invested in the worker’s long term success. ICA’s staffing companies take a different approach, providing individuals intensive pre- and post-placement support services to help them retain employment and upgrade their job opportunities and wages.

Collaborating with community-based partners, ICA has helped establish staffing ventures in Boston, New York, Washington, DC and Providence, Rhode Island. During the past decade, these businesses have helped thousands of low-income individuals formulate career goals, find work, and realize their aspirations. In 2006, this Initiative served some 2,500 job seekers and entry-level workers. Individuals placed in temporary and temp-to-perm job assignments had average earnings of almost $13 per hour.

The Initiative’s market-based strategy leverages charitable support with fees charged to employers making it a highly cost effective and sustainable approach to workforce development. Fees from employers cover 90% of operating costs for the ventures. Charitable support enables ICA to provide technical assistance and strategic guidance to these ventures and pursue opportunities to launch additional sites.

A number of other community based organizations and workforce intermediaries have recognized the potential of the staffing model to connect disadvantaged individuals to the workforce. As a result, an alternative staffing sector is emerging comprised of staffing ventures developed by not-for-profit organizations targeting their services to disadvantaged workers.

ICA’s experience in the field has positioned us to play a leading role in organizing this sector and promoting the alternative staffing model nationally. With funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, ICA has launched a national Alternative Staffing Alliance, designed to support and strengthen social-purpose staffing practitioners and promote and expand the sector. For more information about this effort please visit

For more information about the alternative staffing ventures ICA has helped develop, visit: