Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Depaul USA

Name of Innovative Program: 
Immaculate Cleaning Services, LLC
Sponsoring Organization
Depaul USA
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Charles Levesque
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
Depaul USA, a homeless services organization, operates Depaul House, a transitional housing program for men in Germantown, Philadelphia.   All of the residents of Depaul House are homeless, 46 percent have substance abuse histories, 22 percent have been diagnosed with a mental illness and 27 percent are chronically homeless.  In 2012, Depaul USA founded Immaculate Cleaning Services, LLC (“ICS”) a for-profit commercial cleaning business with two goals.  It would offer employment to Depaul House residents and profits from the business (a franchise of Heits Building Services) would be reinvested in Depaul USA to provide needed services.  The cleaning business complements Depaul House’s other services including its Peer Recovery Program and intensive case management and is premised on the theory that meaningful, regular employment can be a component of the recovery process for mental illness (Fisher, Daniel; Ralph, R.).
Creativity and Innovation: 
Numerous non-profits have established social enterprises that have foundered economically.  Depaul USA wanted to create a profitable, sustainable business that could offer meaningful on-going employment to Depaul House residents and help fund services at Depaul House. A working group identified social franchising as a means to achieve these goals.  It researched franchise opportunities that required limited capital investments, were recession resistant, and required workers whose skills mirrored those of Depaul House residents.   Depaul USA then purchased a cleaning franchise with a guaranteed book of $10,000 in monthly contracts, on-going marketing services, counseling, training, and brand recognition. ICS began operations in June. It has been profitable since September and over five months has paid $8,000 in wages to Depaul House residents. Should profitability continue, ICS will make its first disbursement of profits to Depaul USA in December 2012.
Small homeless services programs often struggle to attract public attention.  ICS, however, has gathered significant media and public attention.   It has been the subject of a case study in the Philadelphia Journal of Social Innovations and resulted in speaking opportunities.  As such, it is a bridge that leads people, funders, and potential partners to learn more about our services and raise awareness about the critical role that behavioral health programming plays at Depaul House.On a micro-level, ICS also plays a leadership role at Depaul House.  When new, unemployed residents arrive at Depaul House, they find a visible employer in their immediate presence and are surrounded by ICS employees.  By investing in the residents through employment, Depaul USA demonstrates that we believe recovery from homelessness and behavioral health challenges is possible.  Furthermore, ICS employees serve as role models to new residents and form a strong peer support network.
Although ICS was established and underwritten by Depaul USA, it is an independent company.   As an independent for-profit business, ICS is designed to function as an on-going, self-sustaining program insulated from any internal Depaul USA budgetary pressures. Moreover, the program related investment from the Patricia Kind Family Foundation that allowed Depaul USA to purchase the cleaning franchise was structured as a low-interest loan, which Depaul USA must repay over five years.  This has added additional financial rigor to the model and required Depaul USA to operate ICS as a for-profit enterprise from the start.
Organizations that provide services in the behavioral health field and who view employment as a component of recovery, could easily replicate the social franchise model of ICS.   Franchising generates $900 billion in economic activity in the US and hundreds of services are now franchised.   The key is finding a service that matches the skill set of a program’s clients and whose investment costs do not exceed the organization’s risk appetite.   A strong management team running the franchise is also essential.  As regards potential funding, local foundations are increasingly interested in program-related investments, as they offer the potential to enhance foundations’ programming impact.  
ICS removes many barriers to employment that Depaul House residents face and, consequently, is often the first regular employment that residents have had in years.  ICS’s van shuttles employees to work so that minimal time is spent commuting and there are no out-of-pocket expenses.   Depaul USA staff members manage the business and collaborate with Depaul USA caseworkers to support residents in their employment goals. This creates an environment conducive to continued employment that can assist in employees’ recoveries.Annually, Depaul USA case managers will assess employees’ qualitative views of their experience and health.  We will also track outcomes quarterly.  Outcomes include the percentage of employees who retain employment for 90 days or longer, employees who are able to move to permanent housing, and employees who leave ICS to earn higher wages elsewhere.