A full-service print, promotional merchandise, and packaging company determined to improve outcomes for young adults who experienced foster care.
When Jordan Bartlett was in college, a new social network called The Facebook was gaining traction at campuses across the country, so he created a profile. Not long after, he received a friend request from a woman introducing herself as his sister. Little did he know how much this would change his life.
“I was adopted at a young age, and I had amazing parents,” says Jordan. “But my sister had a very different upbringing. She had been in and out of the foster system and at the time we got in touch, she was several years sober and working at the recovery place that had helped her, in order to give back.”
Jordan started doing research on the more than 400,000 youth in the U.S. foster care system and found startling statistics. High school graduation and incarceration rates were dismal. Out of youth who have experienced foster care, 50% are unemployed, 28% experience homelessness, 25% enter the criminal justice system and less than 3% graduate college.
“[My sister] had been in and out of the foster system…she was several years sober and working at the recovery place that had helped her, in order to give back.”
Jordan quit his recruiting job and started working with Royal Family Kids, a nationwide network of recreational camps for abused and neglected children. When he expressed his desire to help youth as his new career, Royal Family introduced him to Scott Henderson.
Scott became increasingly aware of the unacceptable foster care outcomes through his wife’s experience as a court-approved special advocate (CASA), which is an individual who makes executive decisions for young people in foster care. Both Scott and Jordan were very familiar with the challenges faced by the foster community and held a deep-seated desire to make an impact.
“We decided to do what we knew best,” Scott shares. “We both had experience using businesses to change outcomes. Why not start a business that uses its profits to create social change?”
Doing Good Works officially launched in 2015 as a promotional & merchandising company. “Businesses spend billions of dollars each day and we thought that had to be part of the solution. Our business model accounted for what all businesses spend money on — putting their logos on products — and allowed us to redirect some of those dollars towards resources and opportunities for young people.”
Both Scott and Jordan felt compelled to discover a business model that would create jobs and direct profits towards resources and opportunities for young people.The company created its 10/20/30 model: 10% of profits are donated to organizations that support the foster community; 20% of employees’ time is available for mentoring in the community; and 30% of employees are from the foster community.
Since Doing Good Works was founded, the organization has donated over $162,000 to organizations that serve foster youth. Of those donations, over $74,000 have been donated to college programs that support students who experienced foster care.
10% of profits are donated to organizations that support the foster community; 20% of employees’ time is available for mentoring in the community; and 30% of employees are from the foster community.
From 2020 alone — the company has donated over $46K cash donations, volunteered over 250 hours, impacted 1884 youth, and employed 11 youth directly from the foster system (four are full-time employees). They created the ‘Stronger Together’ relief fund for foster youth who are in need of assistance during the crisis and have supplied over $10,000 of monetary donations, financial coaching, meals, housing and more.
Unlike a traditional employer, Doing Good Works particularly recognizes the challenges faced by young people who have experienced foster care as they transition into adulthood. The company’s values and business models are designed so all young people who experienced foster care have an equal chance to succeed and feel empowered.
A “trauma-informed” environment means management has been specially trained in working with youth who have experienced trauma. Their methods are aligned with the requirements defined by the federally funded foster care assistance program, John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP). They also derive work rituals from community partners such as Fostering Success Coaching, REDF, and Mindset Matters.
Additional initiatives from the company include their on-boarding internship program for youth who have experienced foster care. The internship follows the Seven Life Domains Framework, which is adapted from Casey Family Programs, a national foundation focused on foster care and child welfare. Through the internship, young adults who experienced foster care will gain valuable work experience while gaining a comprehensive understanding of how the life domains apply to them.
“We truly believe in the idea of using business as a ‘force for good,’ Scott shares.” And the business’ growth supports the belief that doing good, works. It ranked 2nd on Counselors Fastest Growing Distributors List in 2019, with a 702% growth between 2016 and 2018. They were named to the 2019 Inc. 5000 List as one of the fastest growing companies in America.
“But we want everyone to know that they don’t have to spend more, to make a difference.”
Doing Good Works currently runs its operations in Southern California. Due to growing capacity, plans to begin operations in the Bay Area are currently in the process. Their latest acquisition of Ashbury Images involved a screen printing operation that helped at risk youth with employment opportunities. The company plans to share their business model to other companies who want to make a social impact in their industry.
“Some buyers require the social responsibility aspect, some make no connection with the impact, others tell us they wouldn’t go anywhere else,” says Logan Altman, Director of Customer Experience, “But we want everyone to know that they don’t have to spend more, to make a difference.”