What is a Social Enterprise?

“Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. They use the methods and disciplines of business and the power of the marketplace to advance their social, environmental and human justice agendas.”

Three characteristics distinguish a social enterprise from other types of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies:

  • It directly addresses an intractable social need and serves the common good, either through its products and services or through the number of disadvantaged people it employs.

  • Its commercial activity is a strong revenue driver, whether a significant earned income stream within a nonprofit’s mixed revenue portfolio, or a for profit enterprise.

  • The common good is its primary purpose, literally “baked into” the organization’s DNA, and trumping all others.

Equally important when understanding the role of Social Enterprises, are the effects on local communities and the social ROI they develop.
On one hand, they produce direct, measurable public benefits. A classic employment-focused social enterprise, for example, might serve at least four public aims:

  • Fiscal responsibility — It reduces the myriad costs of public supports for people facing barriers, by providing a pathway to economic self-sufficiency for those it employs.

  • Public safety — It makes the community in which it operates safer, by disrupting cycles of poverty, crime, incarceration, chemical dependency and homelessness.

  • Economic opportunity — It improves our pool of human capital and creates jobs in communities in need of economic renewal.

  • Social justice — It gives a chance to those most in need.

Where is HopeWorks located?

HopeWorks Social Enterprises is located at 3331 Broadway, Everett WA 98201. Following the purchase of a 17,000’ building and surrounding lots in late February 2014, HopeWorks is in the midst of Phase I of HopeWorks Station, a multi-year development that includes housing and a training facility.

What is the HopeWorks mission?

HopeWorks Social Enterprises helps low-income, Snohomish County residents, achieve self-sufficiency through social enterprises that provide training and pathways to living-wage jobs.

Who are the HopeWorks Social Enterprise clients?

HopeWorks serves individuals with employment challenges who have a desire to learn, develop employable skills that produce a pathway to living wage careers in the local community.  Through their social enterprises, HopeWorks develops specific intern opportunities that provide direct experiences in established businesses.

Many of HopeWorks clients currently come from Housing Hope program, but anyone facing homelessness or who are impoverished should check our listings through this link.

How many Social Enterprises does HopeWorks manage?

1) GroundWorks Landscaping was established in January 2011 as HopeWorks’ first social enterprise. Through employment and training, this business provides pathways to professional careers in the Landscaping Industry. GroundWorks is a participating member in the Washington Association of Landscape Professionals in Snohomish County. WaterWorks Irrigation Services was established in April 2012 as HopeWorks’ second social enterprise business, but has since been absorbed as a part of GroundWorks. WaterWorks has a menu of services independent of GroundWorks including irrigation installation, backflow testing, and seasonal system maintenance. This business offers a more technical training to trainees and employees who wish to broaden their skill sets and increase their career opportunities.

2) ReNewWorks Home and Decor Store opened its doors in July 2013 as HopeWorks’ third social enterprise. Starting as a web-based business and expanding into a retail showroom, this business offers community engagement by accepting donations of gently used quality furniture, as well as consignment opportunities. Trainees develop a variety of skills including high quality customer care, web-based and retail site marketing and inventory management.

3) CafeWorks was established in December 2015 as our newest enterprise. CafeWorks is a mission-based coffee shop which partners with Housing Hope and Cocoon House to provide job training for homeless and at-risk youth, ages 16-24. Through the barista training program the interns gain skills in the food service industry enabling them to advance towards a living wage career.  CafeWorks serves high quality drip coffee, espresso beverages, tea, made to order sandwiches, and fresh-baked pastries.

Who are the HopeWorks community supporters?

HopeWorks enjoys many supporters in Snohomish and King County areas. Many individuals lend a hand as volunteers, mentors, become social investors or choose to donate to our ReNew Home & Décor social enterprise. Many local corporations support HopeWorks in many different ways. 

The organizations that helped launch HopeWorks include:

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

  • The Boeing Community

  • Campion Foundation

  • The Whitehorse Foundation

  • Everett Clinic Foundation

  • Greater Everett Community Foundation

  • William C. and Eleanor E. Butler Trust Fund

  • JPMorgan Chase Foundation

  • United Way of Snohomish County

  • Henry M. Jackson Foundation

  • Medina Foundation

  • Workforce Snohomish

How can I support HopeWorks?

Visit our “Get Involved” page and determine what role may work for you. HopeWorks is always available to discuss specific needs as our headquarters and new social enterprise needs develop. Please don’t hesitate to contact us using our web form or call (425) 610-4931.