Refine. Design. Rest. Repeat.

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Lately, I’ve been waking up in the oddest position – with my legs bent as if in “figure four” (or tree pose, if you yoga) – kind of like a flamingo lying down on her back. I’m not sure why or when it started, but my mom tells me I slept this way as a kid.

So, as we transition into the new year, with the awareness of a clean slate, I find myself wondering what it means to be resting as I did as a child.

The best answer I can muster is the body knows first what it needs before the mind awakens. This sleeping asana of mine might be a beckon to a time when things felt less complicated, more familiar, and maybe even more fun. Translate that to my waking hours and here’s what I see:

In 2024, REDF is refining and designing. This marks year four of a five-year strategy, in which we launched an array of new services and structures in service to employment social enterprises, and where we prioritized entrepreneurs of color and those with the lived experience of whom they employ. The “newness” was real – all the innovations and ideas and horizons that come out of new programs, and to some degree, all the complexity, too. So, this year is about moving from flare to focus – zeroing in on what works, having the courage to set down what doesn’t, and creating the space for traction to grow.

We’ll start first with strategy.

In a month, we’ll be engaging in a strategy sprint: taking the insights from this current period and actively surfacing what we’re calling determinants, drivers, and dosage – determinants being the attributes intrinsic to employment social enterprises that position them for future growth, drivers being how REDF leans in to match momentum with technical and other support, and dosage being the degree to which those drivers are deployed to maximize (and optimize) impact. As we coalesce around this concept, we’ll match that up against where the market is heading, where our services are most needed, and where (and how) we can achieve the greatest impact – all in service of a refined strategy we’ll announce in 2025.

We’ll look to the future while staying rooted in the power of our practice.

Earlier this month, we announced the new additions to our Growth Portfolio – a three-year partnership that pairs capital and targeted technical assistance to help employment social enterprises on the rise reach their next level of growth. From craft grilled cheese (you had me at hello) to the green economy, these businesses are as inspiring as they are impactful, and we are so grateful to learn alongside them.

REDF CEO Maria Kim (center right) poses with (from left) Cara Collective president and CEO Kathleen St. Louis Caliento, The Knowledge House CEO and co-founder Jerelyn Rodriguez, and Forestry Fire and Recruitment Program CEO and co-founder Brandon Smith.

And we’ll ensure that practice gains momentum by strengthening the policy that fuels it.

We know that something catalytic happens when we tap the power of the cross-sector collective to advocate for policy change. Voices are lifted, initiatives are advanced, and new ideas are uncovered. REDF has been a longtime member of the America Forward Coalition, a nonpartisan policy initiative of New Profit that unites social entrepreneurs with policymakers to advance a policy agenda that promotes equity – and which has demonstrated, year after year, that policy makes the possible plausible.

Individually, practitioners can make an incremental impact, but together, they can shape policy to ensure that impact can scale. I’m kid-in-candy-store excited about our potential towards a more inclusive economy, both within California (where we have notable recent traction fueling the rise of employment social enterprise) and across the country. We can’t wait to keep you updated on our mini-stones and milestones along the way.

REDF’s formula for 2024? Refine. Design. Rest. Repeat.

Looking forward to learning more about your formula for the new year and deepening our work to build an economy that works. For everyone.

Maria Kim