Working On Welfare

Pitching In

Federal, state and local governments have asked the business community to take an active role in getting these welfare recipients into the workplace. And business is listening: Several national coalitions have been formed to assist with the process. One of the major forces in this effort is The Welfare to Work Partnership, created last May by United Airlines, UPS, Burger King Corp., Monsanto and Sprint to encourage the private sector to hire those coming off welfare. Membership in the partnership, open to any company that has hired or commits to hire at least one welfare recipient, has already grown to include some 2,200 companies nationwide.

"The partnership was launched with the simple mission to encourage businesses of all sizes, sectors and regions to hire and retain those on public assistance without displacing current employees," says Eli J. Segal, president and CEO of the nonprofit partnership.

It's accomplishing this by giving business owners the information, technical assistance and support they need to hire welfare recipients. Blueprint for Business: Reaching a New Work Force is one resource the partnership is using. The free 50-page publication, published by The Welfare to Work Partnership and the National Alliance of Business, provides resources such as informational Web sites, examples of successful programs, a realistic look at obstacles business owners face in hiring welfare recipients, and suggestions on how to get federal, state and local government help in areas such as employee training.

In addition to organizations like the partnership, federal government agencies have been asked to take an active role in the welfare-to-work campaign. For example, the Small Business Administration's (SBA) activities range from conducting national surveys to determine labor force needs to identifying small businesses that are willing to hire welfare recipients.

The SBA has also pledged to use the Small Business Development Centers, Women's Business Development Centers, Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) volunteers and other resources to help the effort. Members of the Business Women's Network, in partnership with the SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership, recently pledged to hire more than 10,000 women on welfare as part of its Welfare-to-Work Initiative.

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Working On Welfare.

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