A Home, a Second Chance, a New Life

The Other Side Academy is a self-sustaining residential life-skills and vocational training program for the persistent repeat-offenders, drug addicts and homeless. With the revenue they generate from their social enterprises, the 2-year program comes at no cost to enroll. Just this year, the social enterprise was nominated for an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in social entrepreneurship.


Started in October of 2015, The Other Side Academy (TOSA) has grown to include 90 men and women enrolled in their courses and living on their campus.  These students are accepted regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or physical disability and come from a variety of backgrounds. The average student has been arrested 25 times. All of their students have battled addictions, 90 percent of their students have spent time being homeless and 13 percent were once chronically homeless, being homeless for more than 5 years.


TOSA’s 2-year required commitment from students comes from their belief that behavioral change does not happen in a week, month or even a year. The ultimate goal is to help individuals lead lives free of addiction, crime and destruction. With intensive on-site education and practice, TOSA’s students walk away with fundamental personal management and relationship skills, like integrity, accountability, love, charity and dependability.


CEO Tim Stay shared with us the 3 things that make TOSA unique:

  1. “We do not rely on doctors, therapists, or counselors to cure or heal us. We use a social model of peer accountability, in a highly structured family environment where both students and staff all come from the same background of addiction and toxic behavior.
  2. We are self-sufficient, generating the revenue we need to cover all of our operational expenses.  The very work of running these social enterprises is part of the on-the-job vocational training and life-skills our students need to succeed after they leave.
  3. We are not a drug treatment program.  We do not address drugs, addiction, or criminal activity. We deal with the underlying behaviors that lead to these actions.”


The organization has two social enterprises that help to support its work — The Other Side Movers and The Other Side Thrift Boutique — where the students can get real experience implementing the job training they learn. TOSA started leveraging social enterprise to provide job training and employment practice for its students, and they are now covering 100 percent of their operational expenses through the revenue from their social enterprises with no funds from government or insurance.


Their students run all aspects of these training schools. They learn how to manage and supervise others, they learn how to keep the books and report on operations, and how to provide quality service. This gives them new, marketable skills that will help them be successful once they graduate.


TOSA’s social enterprises have a two-fold purpose in their model: to provide real experience for their students and generate sustainable revenue. When students work alongside their peers, it creates opportunities for corrective emotional experiences. The real-world simulation provided, as students work and live alongside each other everyday, inevitably recreates conflicts of the past and offers opportunities to practice problem-resolution. These become living-learning situations that allow students to resolve important issues in their lives.  Every social interaction or crisis presented in the everyday life of the TOSA community is an opportunity for learning and changing.


At The Other Side Academy, students will awaken to their own value as they support their peers in finding theirs.


The second purpose of their social enterprise, revenue generation, helps TOSA be self-sufficient, one of their 12 basic beliefs. The organization will generate around $2.3 million in revenue this year, from their social enterprises alone.  Not only that, TOSA shares, “our moving company, run by former criminals and addicts, is the top rated moving company in the Salt Lake area.” They have hundreds of five-star reviews on Yelp or Google Reviews for both their moving company and their thrift store social enterprise. Check out their website to learn more about their programs or support their social enterprises. 


From Tim Stay, CEO of The Other Side Academy: We have been able to align our social enterprises directly with our mission of saving lives by changing behavior and by doing so, create a sustainable model where we don’t have to be in constant fundraising mode.  We felt it was critical to learn as much as possible about social enterprises as possible, so in the summer of 2017, we joined and attended the SEA conference in LA. There we were able to network with some amazing organizations and over this last year, several SEA members have been kind enough to allow us to visit them, including CEO, TROSA and Project Return.

When we returned to Utah, we were inspired enough to help launch the Utah SEA chapter to help expand the work of social enterprises here in Utah.

To learn more about The Other Side Academy, check out their member directory profile.

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