Turning the Page: Learning from Social Enterprise More Than Words

Turning the Page: Learning from Social Enterprise More Than Words

We’re a small but mighty team. We have ambition and grandiose dreams. Six years in, we also have the desire to constantly improve; to evolve in a way that not only improves how we operate within our four walls, but also to evolve in a way that ensures we’re doing our part to empower  women within our community. 


This year T.E.A. was presented with an opportunity to study a well-known social enterprise called More Than Words. Located in Boston, More Than Words has been operating for over 15 years. To say they’ve learned a thing or two about running a social enterprise would be an understatement. We spent three days learning the ins and outs of their business; from their early beginnings to data collection practices to how they empower youth to ‘take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.’ It was a truly inspiring week! So inspiring that, in the short time since visiting, we’ve already begun the process of instituting many of their practices. They have a proven concept, the work they do works, but more importantly…it matters! It’s clear that the young adults at More Than Words are inspired and, as a result, are inspiring. We couldn’t be more honored to have become a part of their family for the short time we were visiting. We hope that, through our learnings, we can provide the level of inspiration to our family that More Than Words provides to theirs. 


What is More Than Words?

More Than Words is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.


How does it work?

When system-involved youth are empowered with authentic and increasing responsibilities in a business setting, and are given high expectations and a culture of support, they can and will address personal barriers to success, create concrete action plans, and become contributing members of society who live, love and own their futures.


What’s a Business Job?

Young adults work approximately 20 hours per week managing the online, retail, pop-up and wholesale bookselling businesses, running a high-end event space, and gaining critical life skills and work experience while generating revenue that offsets program costs. Youth facilitate peer-led trainings and weekly team meetings, manage sales, and plan and host events. Youth are also out on 3 trucks doing daily pickups at donation bins, homes, businesses and institutions in the community, sourcing over 3 million donated books annually to run their businesses. Through the Business Job, young people learn marketable and transferable job skills, including customer service, technology, inventory management, as well as critical professional skills such as showing up on time and working as a team.


What’s a You Job?

Young adults also work a paid YOU job focused on advancing personal goals and education. Youth achieve personal milestones such as obtaining an ID, opening a bank account, and finding housing, and participate in site visits with businesses, trade schools, and universities, hands-on workshops, mock interviews, education coaching and regular meetings with Youth Development Managers. Through the YOU Job, youth set and achieve measurable goals in education, work, and life.


What’s next?

After 6-12 months working their Business and YOU jobs in the Core Social Enterprise Program, young adults graduate and receive at least two years of proactive support in the Career Services Program as they apply what they learned in other jobs and education. Youth receive individualized case management support as needed in the areas including but not limited to career exploration, college exploration and applications, FAFSA completion, job searching skills, resume and cover letter writing and interviewing skills. Our graduates go on college visits, attend networking events, serve in leadership roles, and get coaching to reach their education, employment, and self-sufficiency goals.


Interested in supporting More Than Words?

Check out their website here.


Buy your books from them online here.


If you’re in Boston visit them at one of their two locations. You can find MTW at:

Boston Location

242 East Berkeley Street 

OR

Waltham Location

56 Felton Street