Background 

Opportunity Construction is a highway construction company that offers traditionally underserved communities, especially previously incarcerated people, the opportunity to improve their lives and the opportunity to succeed in those lives through gainful employment, training, credentialing, mentorship, case management and connection to wraparound services as needed. A part of this mission includes providing On the Job Training (OJT) programming to help people enter the highway construction industry.

Opportunity Construction’s Carl Phinney connected with Ecotone after meeting Emily Hunt Turner of All Square, a previous Ecotone client. The two met as Fellows during the 2020 REDF Accelerator. The REDF Accelerator fosters a community of social enterprise leaders who support work and employment opportunities that empower people overcoming barriers to work.

Ecotone was brought in to do an impact analysis and determine a projected Social Return on Investment (SROI) on the OJT program for Opportunity Construction. This analysis was guided by the research question “What is the estimated Social Return on Investment in Opportunity Construction’s OJT program and to whom do the benefits accrue?”

Ecotone’s Work

Using its research and methodologies, Ecotone estimated a projected SROI of $3.27 for OJT participants who complete training and $2.35 for other OJT participants. Who actually benefits from that return? In the value map below, it shows the benefactors to be the OJT Participant, taxpayers, society in general and employers. 

Below you can also see the Impact Management Project (IMP) Five Dimensions of Impact for Opportunity Construction’s OJT program. This includes what, who, how much, contribution and impact risk mitigation. 

Also included in the Impact Overview and analysis is the logic model and theory of change (shown below) which determines the inputs, outputs, and outcomes (including short, intermediate and long term outcomes) as well as the identified impacts.

Also shown are the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) classifications. These are the goals that align with the OJT program.

Outcomes

The evidence-based quantification of outcomes in this project will help Opportunity Construction better communicate the impact of its OJT program, using the tools created, such as the Impact Overview diagram. 

Ecotone also identified Key Performance Indicators which can be used by Opportunity Construction to manage impact and strategic opportunities as well as identify what future research should be done to better track impact. 

One identified area of future research that would better help value the social return is research about the children of OC’s participants and how the benefits of the program transfer to participants’ children. Another area that would benefit from more research is how lengthening the program could create additional benefits or increase current ones. 

In addition to the identified Key Performance Indicators, Ecotone also created a data plan for Opportunity Construction which outlines what metrics to track in order to continuously review and improve its impact. Measurement is essential for continuous improvement because it informs what programmatic changes might be necessary or what additional supports can help participants and other stakeholders achieve positive outcomes.

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