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People’s Emergency Center

First Nonprofit Foundation awarded People’s Emergency Center (PEC) $25,000 to support the relaunch of their social enterprise dog biscuit business.

The original dog biscuit business was launched in 1999 as a partnership between PEC and Norveiga, a local for-profit company. The product had modest success, employing four trainees who worked out of PEC’s commercial kitchen on a part-time basis. The high quality biscuits were attractively packaged along with a story about PEC and the residents employed in entry-level positions making the products. In 2006, the business closed due to a trademark challenge, the cost of repairing a critical piece of equipment and the question of how best to scale and grow distribution—and therefore employment opportunities.

Since 2006, according to the American Pet Products Association, expenditures on pet products has nearly doubled—growing from a $38 billion to a $55 billion industry causing PEC to reconsider the opportunities this business would provide to their clients.

PEC is working with the Wharton Social Impact Initiative to develop a business plan, alternative distribution channels, financial analysis, marketing and distribution plan and a product rebrand and relaunch. Funding from First Nonprofit Foundation will be used to repair critical equipment and to implement the Wharton plans.

PEC envisions three potential business models for this enterprise that will lead to hiring two to six
part-time workers along with a part-time manager for marketing and distribution. These employees will participate in 16-week rotations in which they will learn the high level workplace behaviors that employers require.

They also anticipate two additional outcomes from this social enterprise: (1) a modest revenue stream for PEC’s employment and training programs and (2) increased overall awareness of the People’s Emergency Center.

What makes the development of this program unique is PEC’s ability to access Wharton’s expertise and entrepreneurial spirit in researching alternative business models which will give PEC clients workplace experience not only in manufacturing but also in sales and communications. PEC expects the business plan phase of the project to be complete by the end of April.

Results will be measured by the number of clients enrolled in the program, their employment outside PEC after their rotation and their long-term employment retention.

With the First Nonprofit Foundation grant and the support of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, this project is fully funded. The aspects of this enterprise related to client selection, hiring, training,
and future external placements are already in place. Over time PEC will be able to continue to provide client jobs without grant funding.



Mission Statement

The People’s Emergency Center’s mission is to nurture families, strengthen neighborhoods and drive change in West Philadelphia.

Organization History

People’s Emergency Center (PEC) primarily serves homeless families consisting of single mothers and their young children in West Philadelphia. Many of these families are headed by young mothers with little or no work experience and some history of personal or familial trauma. Families at PEC are supported through emergency and transitional housing, employment and job training, computer skills development, GED and workplace literacy, as well as case management and counseling services.

Their community development arm helps build new homes and maintain and repair existing ones, cleans up vacant lots and maintains parks and helps families manage their finances. PEC
also operates a community of more than 200 housing units and four educational centers offering coursework in employment and job training, parenting and early childhood education, technology and life skills.

Through its efforts, PEC enables the families it serves to achieve long-term economic and personal self-sufficiency.


“While First Nonprofit Foundation had broadly defined their grantmaking focus, they were willing to discuss our project needs and goals. Our conversations resulted in a richer proposal which was quickly approved.”

Who We’ve Helped

Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to fund many worthy projects. Read more about each project through our past success stories.
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