Social Enterprises of the Future is an initiative co-sponsored by SourceAmerica and the National Council of SourceAmerica Employers (NCSE). The initiative focuses on the future of work and the disability community. The central purpose of Social Enterprises of the Future is to reimagine how organizations providing services and employment for people with disabilities might evolve to promote the inclusion, personal fulfillment and economic well-being of these individuals. We propose using co-creation of operational and policy interventions, informed by research, to achieve these goals. This report provides an overview of the first phase of the Social Enterprises of the Future initiative and charts a path for the next three years. 

In the first phase of Social Enterprises of the Future, we facilitated broad community engagement to design a collection of operational responses to trends identified through research. The baseline research and starting point for collective innovation is found in SourceAmerica’s publication The Future of Work and the Disability Community. In this report, we provide evidence to support a claim that, barring intervention or significant systems change, the marginalization of people with disabilities is likely to increase due to societal, legislative, economic and technological factors. Social Enterprises of the Future is intended to be the catalyst for designing interventions and leading systems change efforts through new levels of cooperation across sectors.   

Social Enterprises of the Future: A Collective Response outlines our methodology and the path forward. Social Enterprises of the Future is rooted in design thinking principles. Therefore, success is dependent on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the design of interventions that meet their aspirations for the future. We must strive to develop testable prototypes that maximize learning and incorporate feedback into the innovation process. As the initiative evolves, it will be essential to include the diverse perspectives of representatives across the public, private and social sectors to guide the design process. The framework we developed during the original phase of this initiative and our first set of outputs reflect an evolution within the disability community. 

Through an experiment in nationwide co-creation, we collaborated with more than 200 organizations. The design process was led by an inclusive working group, with equal representation of executive leaders and individuals with disabilities who would benefit from the concepts being developed. All members of the team had an equal voice in the process. Using the Business Model Canvas, the working group spent six months designing operational models responsive to the future of work, which were informed by research supplied by SourceAmerica. After each ideation session, working group members briefed the broader community on their progress and received direct input for how to evolve the models. 

There are seven models outlined in this report: 

  • Inclusion consulting 
  • Accessibility consulting 
  • Connecting abilities
  • Gig economy 
  • Cross-sector collaborations 
  • Hybrid organizations
  • Environmental stewardship 

The models were designed to respond to societal, legislative, economic and technological disruptions impacting the disability community. The models reflect the collective wisdom and creativity of the community and a starting point for continuous innovation. 

With the publication of this report, we now move to the second phase of the Social Enterprises Initiative. During the next two years, our goal is to develop a future-based community of practice that will engage in continuous learning, ideation and testing. Through this initiative, we will continue to produce operational approaches that may be adopted by social enterprises facilitating the employment of people with disabilities. Additionally, we will develop policy recommendations to expand the employment of people with disabilities now and in the future. Membership in this community of practice will extend across sectors, and the interventions designed will include policy recommendations to complement operational approaches.