Dans la rue: Balancing the Heart and the Pocketbook
This case study of social innovation and entrepreneurship looks closely at the growth of a not-for-profit enterprise. Dans la rue was founded in 1988 when a "rebel priest," Father Emmett Johns, bought a used van and started going into the streets of Montreal to help youth at risk directly - hence, the name of the organization, French for "in the street." In over 25 years, the organization has grown steadily; in 2013, it operated in three locations with 65 employees and over 100 volunteers. Elements of this case are common to any start-up organization: over time, it grows, learns, acquires legitimacy, and becomes increasingly professionalized. But there are also unique elements to Dans la rue: a vulnerable clientele, certain unsettling realities (drugs, theft, prostitution, etc.), and the need to be involved with yet remain distant from government agencies and funding sources. This case takes a detailed look at how the organization's executives have met the challenges of balancing the needs of street youth with the concerns of private donors and government agencies while keeping Dans la rue sustainable.