Who We Are
REDF (The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund) is a pioneering venture philanthropy that creates jobs and transforms lives like no other organization in America. We are the leader of a national movement of employment-focused social enterprises, the successful brand of businesses that invest the money they make into helping their employees get a lasting shot at a better life.
REDF is distinctive as the only philanthropy in the United States that invests exclusively in social enterprises focused on employment. We advise and connect them, and help them measure their impact so they can grow and serve more people. And we have one mission – jobs – for millions of people who cannot get work because of histories of homelessness, incarceration, mental health issues, substance abuse or limited education.
That is why REDF invests in social enterprises created explicitly to hire people who want to work and contribute but often do not get the chance because of disadvantages in their lives. A job at a social enterprise provides so much more than a paycheck – it provides stability, a sense of pride and purpose, a true path to self-sufficiency, and hope.
Yet as businesses that must survive in the real world, social enterprises are different from traditional social service agencies. They are competitive places of commerce, built on quality goods or services people want. With a consumer niche and smart business savvy, social enterprises are able to make money and reinvest it to serve their mission of transforming lives. This is why REDF works so well: We harness the power of the market for social impact.
REDF applies the proven practices of the business world to its mission of smashing employment barriers. That means investing in what works, measuring rigorously, and providing hands-on advice to help these entrepreneurial businesses have lasting success.
That mindset of investor comes from our founder, George Roberts who applied the principles of his global private equity firm toward addressing persistent joblessness. In fact, REDF is the pioneer that created a model of Social Return on Investment to capture the financial and social value of a company. What began as a family foundation has grown over 20 years into the REDF of today: The driving force of a social enterprise movement that helps people with employment barriers get jobs, keep jobs and build a better life.
REDF makes this happen by providing funding, advising social enterprise businesses, measuring their impact and developing their leaders. We also connect and build the field, and advance policies that help both social enterprise businesses and the people they employ thrive.
REDF now reaches from coast to coast, with a goal of helping 50,000 more people get into and remain in the workforce by 2020. We are proud to see people move from the periphery of society to the center of the economy, full of belonging, pride and optimism. That is REDF– transforming lives, one job at a time. We are an investment that works.