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10 Million Beats per Minute

It’s not the thump of the bass, but the roar of the crowd that makes my heart sing.

Recently I saw Bruce Springsteen perform in the ivied walls of Wrigley Field, in my hometown of Chicago. By some wicked good fortune, I was seated (well, standing) near the stage – right in front of the subwoofers where every beat of every song pushed against my rib cage like the heartbeat of ten million strong.

I was enthralled by two things – the swagger of a true rock and roller, and the roar of a crowd – each singing their hearts out as if belting out an anthem for the ages. In that moment, all aglow by the bliss of live music experienced in community with others, my heart was aflutter.

I felt that same rib cage-busting heartbeat one more time this month – when we learned that philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott gifted REDF with a catalytic, unrestricted $10 million in support of our work to help build an economy that works. For everyone.

As I heard the words of this gift, I’m pretty sure my heart stopped for a beat. I know that I started crying (which I tried to hide as if to suggest I take these kinds of calls all the time 😉). And once I regained my composure, I could feel deep in my bones this intoxicating feeling of the possible.

In just under three decades, REDF has backed nearly 300 enterprises and the fearless leaders behind them – each dedicated to using the power of business to unlock economic mobility and family-sustaining joy for people facing tough barriers to employment.

Scott’s investment paves the way for us to build on past success – a healthy portfolio of enterprises generating over $2B in earned revenue and creating employment for over 100,000 people – and unlock new opportunities to grow what works, increasingly democratize access to those solutions through the public sector and beyond, and continue pushing our learning edge to help that 100,000 become more like a million over time.

To have a gift of this size – and without restriction – signals to missions like ours a message of trust, of belief in the possible, and of the transformative power of communities to design and deliver against their own vision of hope, mobility, and opportunity.

Most importantly, this support will help us achieve our most important imperative – to reframe the narrative around what talent looks like in our country and ensure all people are seen for the talent they hold, not the barriers they face.

I’ve never had the good fortune of meeting Ms. Scott (though if she’s reading this, please know I’m a very fun hang), but I would venture to guess her heart sings not by the thrill of the spotlight or the thump of the bass, but by the roar of the crowd – the crowd of millions whose futures are unlocked because she sees as we do: that we stand on the broad shoulders of those who came before us, and our job – or more like our opportunity – is to pave the way for others to stand on ours.


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