Across the country, low-income and marginalized communities face similar problems. On the one hand, crime and incarceration rates are usually higher. On the other hand, access to higher paying jobs, quality education, or decent healthcare is proportionately very low.1
With limited economic mobility or opportunities to improve the quality of their life, individuals in poverty are three times more likely to be incarcerated in their lifetimes.2 After incarceration, individuals are even further economically marginalized with more limited opportunities for success in our society, creating a vicious cycle for marginalized and formerly incarcerated individuals.3
Meanwhile, the United States has the world’s highest incarceration rate, with about 25% of the world’s prisoner population being the U.S.4 Criminal punishment and policing are given high priority to address crime in cities, rather than investments in community development. This prioritization clearly does not address the root causes of crime, and instead perpetuates an inherently broken system that disadvantages marginalized low-income communities.
Dollars deposited at Amalgamated are directly lent out to impact businesses that take corporate social responsibility seriously. The clients we serve are values-aligned organizations that we’re proud to do business with and support their efforts to make the world a better place.
Today, we’d like to share the story of one of our clients that is addressing our broken criminal justice system acnd truly enriching the community they serve. Social Imprints is a mission-driven business that provides second-chance opportunities for most of its staff. The company is a promotion products vendor for many of the nation’s leading tech companies, based in San Francisco, California.
Social Imprints provides higher paying professional jobs in sales, marketing, graphic arts, customer service, accounting, production and warehouse management to recovering addicts, individuals on/off public assistance, veterans of the military, underrepresented minorities and those undereducated / underemployed. Eighty percent of their workforce are:
- Formerly incarcerated individuals released within 2 years
- Individuals recovering from substance abuse, who have been sober 2+ years
- Low-income individuals who’ve been on and off public assistance
- Individuals with less than a high school education
- Veterans discharged within 5 years
The company is well-known and recognized in the industry as a values-driven business that sells branded items (“swag”), sometimes in partnership with the local textile union, and a proud client of Amalgamated Bank.
“We have a lot to be proud of,” said Kevin McCracken, Director of Business Development / Co-Founder of Social Imprints. “Our team has helped the company grow into the top 2% of sales in the promotional products market. We also get positive responses regarding our initiatives and community events. Our events are very well attended and fun. When we engage in a positive way, we generally get a positive response.”
Social Imprints helps businesses design uniquely branded swag programs to capture the strength and diversity of their organizations with one of the largest networks of diverse suppliers of any promotional products company worldwide. They feature a full line of products from women-owned businesses and this year, they launched a Give 2021 A Shot campaign this year to celebrate social justice milestones.
As a strong mission-based organization, it was important for Social Imprints to partner with organizations with strong values that aligned with their own. Banking with Amalgamated was an easy choice.
“There is so much alignment in purpose between us,” said Kevin. “I can’t think of another bank that ticks all the boxes for us. Customer service, purpose driven business, and the companies that Amalgamated chooses to support are all in line with Social Imprints values.”
Our relationship with Social Imprints has strengthened over the years, and especially throughout the challenges of the pandemic.
“Amalgamated helped connect us to additional funding during a terrible time for small business,” said Kevin. “Our controller has a strong relationship with the team at Amalgamated, so when we need something, we get a response right away. Given our need to remain flexible and agile, this responsiveness is really helpful.”
Social Imprints currently employs 38 people and 75% are social mission-based hires.
“Most of our supervisors are homegrown talent,” explains Kevin, “meaning they started at entry level positions and moved up based on merit and on-the-job training. Our production manager (a former addict) volunteers at San Quentin, reading resumes and conducting mock interviews with men that are long-term incarcerated and are going to be released.”
Social Imprints continues to grow and provide life-changing opportunities to those who need it most, while making a deeply positive impact on their community. As for the next step, the Social Imprints team is working to create a non-profit business entity dedicated to workforce development. It would be an accredited institution and allow CCSF (City College of San Francisco) students to work in their facility and earn credits for school.
As America’s socially responsible bank, we are committed to criminal justice reform and economic justice for all underserved and marginalized communities. We are proud to work alongside organizations like Social Imprints and applaud them for their leadership at the forefront of positive social change.
For more information on criminal justice reform and where we stand on this issue, please see our dedicated issue page.
2Incarceration and Poverty in the United States - AAF (americanactionforum.org)
3The Unequal Burden of Crime and Incarceration on America’s Poor (brookings.edu)
4Incarceration Rates By Country 2021 (worldpopulationreview.com)