Economic Development, Human Resources, and Nonprofits

Nonprofit staffing program makes $20.3M impact

Guiding Light’s The Job Post hired 813 people in 2018.

March 15, 2019
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Walker-based Premier Finishing has hired four candidates from The Job Post over the past couple of years and three still are members of the 35-person workforce. Courtesy Premier Finishing 

A nonprofit staffing program placed 813 people in full-time employment in 2018, creating a potential annual impact of nearly $20.3 million.

A social enterprise of the nonprofit Guiding Light, The Job Post is a hiring and recruitment firm open to all adults looking for temporary or permanent work at local businesses in West Michigan.

In the third year of The Job Post, the nonprofit reported $2.8 million in revenue, a 19 percent increase from the previous year.

The program operates similarly to other staffing agencies, except all profits generated from its placement work are returned to Guiding Light to support the Back to Work and Recovery programs. In 2018, The Job Post returned $300,000 in profit to support Guiding Light.

In 2018, The Job Post collaborated with 12 West Michigan companies, primarily in the manufacturing industry, to place people in jobs with an average wage of $12 per hour. More than 2,000 people have been placed in full-time jobs since the program’s inception.

Those hired at companies through the program work as The Job Post employees for 60-90 days, after which they can be hired permanently by the companies and become eligible for benefits, health insurance and a retirement plan.

The Job Post touts a quick turnaround time, with some candidates landing a job within two hours of applying in person.

As part of a nonprofit, The Job Post aims to help those facing barriers that keep them from getting work.

“In today’s economy, we might be tempted to think that anyone who wants a job can find one. But there are many barriers to full-time employment that take extra support to overcome,” said Stuart Ray, executive director of Guiding Light.

Some of those barriers include access to transportation, child care, professional clothing, lack of family support and lack of funds for manufacturing safety equipment, according to Stephanie McKinnon, The Job Post director of operations.

“We do the heavy lifting of breaking down the barriers that prevent someone from getting a job because we are serious about putting people back to work,” Ray said. “We give individuals a hand up to get the tools and resources they need.”

The Job Post’s transportation program began in 2016 when it became evident the lack of reliable transportation was keeping qualified candidates from getting work. Starting with providing bus passes, the organization later utilized the Hope Network’s Wheels to Work program, which works with employers to assist employees with transportation.

McKinnon said more than 100 employees have used Wheels to Work in the last year, and the organization has given more than 200 bus tickets. When an employee works past the time buses run, she said the program will split the fee for taxi services with the employees.

When appropriate, employees also are offered lunches, safety glasses, gloves and boots to help them get what they need to secure employment and perform the job. When Guiding Light covers up-front costs, the clients reimburse half the amount through paycheck deductions.

The Job Post last year coordinated more than 1,000 interviews, assisted with about 100 résumés, provided more than $8,000 in transportation and provided $2,000 in safety equipment, including glasses, gloves and boots. The program also helps its clients with job retention.

“We believe having a job means you’re a strong part of the community. Dignity comes with knowing you can provide for yourself and for others,” Ray said.

Walker-based Premier Finishing has been working with the program for a couple of years.

Andy Ribbens, owner of the company, said he and his wife volunteer for the nonprofit 70x7 Life Recovery — which serves formerly incarcerated people — and are sympathetic toward people working to fight through barriers and better their lives.

Ribbens has hired four people through The Job Post and employs three of them now. The company employs 35 people.

With the company located just outside the bus system, he said some employees are able to work there because of the transportation system.

Ribbens said The Job Post has done well interviewing the candidates and ensuring they’re a proper fit for Premier Finishing.

McKinnon said The Job Post always is looking to expand. Though many of the clients face significant barriers, she said the program is for anyone. She’s placing a marketing specialist for a manufacturing company, for example.

Those looking for work can contact the office or walk in, at 255 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays.

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