FareStart Profile

Founded in 1992, Seattle-based FareStart is a non-profit organization that offers job training in culinary for those who are homeless or who have been incarcerated.

Basically, FareStart runs for two pieces: non-profit and social enterprise. As for the non-profit piece, FareStart provides 16-week culinary training program, along with life skill classes, counseling and provides housing, food and clothing, including uniforms and shoes. Since it started, FareStart has provided opportunities for over 6,000 homeless people to transform their lives. About 80% of the adult graduate got their jobs within 90 days of graduation. Therefore FareStart wins a great reputation among homeless people who want to make a change for their life. The program is all free to candidates.

While for the social enterprise piece, FareStart operates a restaurant which provides daily lunches and Thursday night Guest Chef dinners; it also has catering and meal contract that provides more than five million meals a year to the local homeless shelters. In total, about 45% of revenue stream are generated through social enterprise, 15% proceeds put back to the business while all the rest amount of revenue directly goes to support their mission.

FareStart acquired its first customer from downtown emergency shelter. The founder, David Lee, showed his interested in getting people out of shelter by training homeless people how to get jobs and not use shelters. How could shelters say no to such a perfect meet match? Therefore it’s continuing to be a great partnership for FareStart with the shelter programs. FareStart use food as a hook and gives people one reason that wants to lean closer to hear more about it. As for FareStart it is easy because their mission and social enterprise are so linked, they want customer to learn how they help homelessness back to lives, bringing them back to society. Everyone loves to hear more about that.  I think this is an especially well marketing tactic for it as use storytelling to combining the organization’s mission as well as its business perfectly together.

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