Vivienne Lee has been with REDF for all of 9 months now. Already she has seen the excitement and interest building among REDF partners in business, government and philanthropy. “As we work together to solve some of the shared problems around job opportunity,” Lee says, “we can see our work at REDF aligning with a broader interest.”
Lee was drawn to working with REDF when she saw its programs in action as a community development officer at Citibank. As a Citibank funder, Lee could see first hand how REDF was able to bridge the gap between workforce and economic development, through social enterprise. “They created actual job opportunities, built skills, and taught job readiness. I didn’t see that happening anywhere else.”
Lee believes one of the keys to developing an effective platform for social enterprise organizations in Southern California comes down to a single word: Partnerships. “You have to have awareness of what others are doing,” Lee says. “You each contribute your slice of the pie, and together we build a larger pie. Each organization brings their specific area of expertise. We can leverage the resources and existing efforts within the public infrastructure. Business needs access to a good strong workforce. And philanthropy looks at what is lacking in society. We work with grant making organizations to educate them how to invest, fund, and align their investment with their giving purpose. Together we all bring value to the collaboration.”
Current Southern California projects include developing pilot programs focused on building a social enterprise ecosystem with an industry focus. “We’re trying to build a pathway for creating job opportunities within certain potential industries such as property maintenance and electronic waste recycling,” Lee says. For Lee the greatest excitement about working at REDF comes from the opportunity to act as a connector. “Its not just one piece. Its business, government, and philanthropy all working together. At REDF we get to be the connector to create a platform for social enterprise.”
On May 22nd, Lee and REDF will continue to connect the social enterprise community in downtown Los Angeles, at REDF’s sixth annual Social Enterprise Expo. The reception will showcase REDF grantees and its portfolio of social enterprises. Click here for more information and to register.