A $1.5 million contract with First Step for the Community Employment Pathways program approved by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors earlier this summer will help the area’s homeless build a better future. San Bernardino and Los Angeles considered and embraced the First Step Rapid Employment Model to help address the issue of homelessness. The board’s decision came on the heels of an e-newsletter published in late April/early May by the American Roundtable to Abolish Homelessness. The organization stressed the importance of “scale” to best impact the size of the need, as well as the importance of programs that will provide individuals a “future trajectory of independence.” The communication went on to suggest a business model being deployed in several cities could hold the key to success in this regard. That model was the First Step Program. The nonprofit First Step approach to temporary employment for the homeless is an upgrade to the approach historically utilized by small boutique agencies. First Step accomplished this by bringing both scale and replicability to the employment process. Once the contracts with San Bernardino and Los Angeles were secured, First Step moved forward completing other requirements necessary to get the program up and running—the purchase of a staffing company. The goal is to purchase an employment agency that has contracts with industries that employ large numbers of employees. They usually include businesses like warehousing and logistics, hospitality, entertainment venues, etc. Once the program is up and running, the county will refer individuals for hiring to First Step who—through its staffing company—will send the candidates to various locations for employment. First Step is a nonprofit staffing organization that provides a variety of services beyond temporary job placement including coaching and consultation. It is expected the First Step process will be up and running in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties before the end of the year. The program will eventually provide employment assistance for the homeless, veterans and those with criminal backgrounds.