By Rosie Meyer
Inspire. Dream. Create. Love. Hope. Courage.
Each product sold from the Giving Keys has one of these words imprinted onto its front surface.
The Giving Keys, a social enterprise located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, is committed to combating the increasing rate of homelessness in the city through transitional employment and professional empowerment. To date, Giving Keys has provided more than 80 full-time, living wage job opportunities to people transitioning out of homelessness. Each job offered includes worker benefits and paid time-off for housing and education commitments, allowing workers to stabilize their life outside of work while maintaining a reliable income source. They sell a variety of jewelry including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, keychains and other gifts under $50. Every sale is redistributed into job creation efforts for the homeless community in LA.
As of 2018, LA’s homeless population has increased 75% in the last six years to approximately 58,000. According to Gypset Magazine, “in 70% of the cases, finding a job was the solution needed to bring them out of homelessness permanently.” Though other local organizations and the government have teamed together to provide social, professional and housing resources, homeless people in LA are still struggling more than ever, with limited resources and a crippling housing shortage, to find ways to get out of poverty.
As employees of Giving Keys, workers get a second chance to learn technical skills, like Microsoft Excel and craft skills, like assembling jewelry and shipping the products. They also learn valuable professional skills, like business communication through their respective customer service and HR departments which aim to “employ, train and retain the homeless workforce.” This second chance provides people with a supportive working environment where they can take back their life and feel apart of an uplifting community.
Their website features a section called “Pay It Forward,” which is a collection of stories from around the world. This is a space where employees and customers can share their personal stories regarding the word(s) imprinted on their Giving Keys product.
Betty, a current Giving Keys employee, confirms how this social enterprise has transformed her life for the better. “Since joining The Giving Keys, my attitude on everything has changed. I like coming to work and feeling that I’m a part of something bigger than myself – feeling that I am needed,” said Betty. The Giving Keys gave me a second chance and I am so grateful for this opportunity.” Not only does the Giving Keys provide workers with professional skills, but it facilitates hope, self-reliance, and a stable future.
The Giving Keys also encourages all members of their team to advocate and volunteer to combat homelessness in LA during their time off. Together as a community, through their social impact employment model and volunteer efforts, the Giving Keys is making strides to alleviate homelessness in LA by providing job training to jumpstart future careers.