Posted by StreetWise in From The Director
2012 was another exciting year for StreetWise. The support of our donors, volunteers, and readers were a key part of our achievement. As a business entity, StreetWise continues to strengthen our fiscal position; expanding both staffing resources as well as financial reserves. As a social service agency, StreetWise is providing more services than ever before, and doing so in an efficient and effective manner.
StreetWise ended the year by not just meeting our budget expectations, but by actually exceeding our revenue projections. This is part due to an increase in the sale of StreetWise Magazine. This is as much a testament the hard work of our editorial staff, who always strive to publish a high quality and thought provoking product, as it is to the generosity of our readers, who understand that, as a customer of StreetWise Magazine, they not only get an enjoyable read but also directly support motivated men and women who want nothing more than to earn a living.
The value increased sales bring to Chicagoans in need is that more money is available to support the agency’s social service programs. In 2011 we reinvested $30K from magazine sale profits back into the StreetWise social service programs. In 2012 we were able to reinvest close to $50K. This means, as a social enterprise, StreetWise Magazine is not just profitable for its own sake, but that its profitability is a critical support mechanism in the agency’s efforts to help men and women trapped in the crisis of poverty.
Another program that has experienced great success is the new StreetWise Produce Vendor Job Readiness Program. This new social enterprise has allowed StreetWise to diversify its workforce offerings. The program recruits, trains and places participants as independent vendors, operating a Neighbor Cart mobile produce stand.
In 2012 StreetWise trained 25 men and women to operate 8 carts across the city. In 2013 we look to engage over 80 participants for 30 new carts. In furtherance of our mission, half the produce carts will be located in food desert communities.
Operating a financially sound agency is only important if the services we provide have a true impact on men and women in need. StreetWise is proud to say that they do. One case that stands out is the StreetWise participant who came to the agency five years ago, having lost his job, home and family to drug addiction. He diligently used the StreetWise services, slowly building up his income and all the while addressing the issues in his life that had set him back in the first place. After several years of hard work as a magazine vendor, this participant cleared his driving record, regained his CDL license and is once again employed as a commercial truck driver earning $65K a year. StreetWise is pleased to have provided him the “hand up, and not a handout” he needed to get his life back on track.
The resources that make our success possible would not exist without the generosity of our financial supporters, those who give their time and energy helping out at the StreetWise office, and customers who purchase our magazine every day.
The StreetWise family and its Board of Directors are grateful for the generosity of all those who touch our agency. We look forward to a continued partnership in our efforts to combat poverty by providing immediate access to employment, and the support services to make it last.
I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. You are welcome to contact me at either firstname.lastname@example.org or (773) 334-6600 (ext. 18).
- Jim LoBianco, StreetWise Executive Director