UNIQUE EXPERT FOR MEDIA AVAILABILITY 50th Anniversary of War on Poverty

 Carla Javits, CEO of REDF; Expert on How Jobs Transform Lives and Communities; Social Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise – Today’s ‘Public-Private Partnerships’

Daughter of U.S. Senator Jacob Javits (NY); He was instrumental in developing many of the legislative initiatives that comprised the War on Poverty and focused on innovative public/private partnerships

Carla Javits is available to speak on the War on Poverty including:

  • What is the legacy of the War on Poverty?
  • What can we learn from the War on Poverty to combat today’s persistent unemployment?
  • How can the private sector lead or play a key role in the NEXT War on Poverty?
  • What can be done with public policy and private industry to spur investment and employment for those who are hardest to employ?
  • PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:  What insights did Senator Javits have on the War on Poverty that are as relevant/fresh today as they were 50 years ago?

San Francisco, CA – America will open 2014 by examining the 50 year legacy of the War on Poverty.  Many will focus on social welfare programs.  However, some of the most transformational and enduring elements of this public policy approach have been job and workforce development programs, including initiatives for those that need them most.  

These include policies introduced through the years by Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter that set the basis for a workforce development approach to ending poverty.  Today, despite funding cuts to the Workforce Investment Act,  workforce-centric policies endure through the expansion of Pell Grants,  state-level job training programs targeted at growing industrial sectors like health care, and programs like Youthbuild that build the skills of young people otherwise at risk of joining the ranks of the long-term unemployed.  In many states and cities, government and private employers are working together to build career pathways.

REDF, led by Carla Javits, works with private nonprofit and for profit employers to create jobs and open up job opportunities  to tackle the problem of unemployment, especially for those who face the greatest barriers to work.  These may be young people who have dropped out of school or have been in gangs, people who have been in prison or homeless, and those who live with mental health disabilities.  For them, it is difficult to break the cycle of poverty and enter the workforce. The inability to find employment can have serious consequences not just for the person who can’t find a job. It can also lead to the inability to provide for families, increased costs to society and government, and to degradation of our communities.

Carla often says, “Employment plays a central role in enabling people to help themselves.  And Americans believe that when we can, we should provide a hand up rather than a hand out.  But if we are going to make this a reality, we have an obligation to look for innovative solutions that offer an opportunity to all individuals who are willing and able to work.”

Senator Javits Legacy and the War on Poverty: Senator Jacob Javits was a Liberal Republican who grew up in New York City’s Lower East Side.  During his 35 years as a U.S. Senator, he kept his focus on the working people of New York and fought to use public policy to create opportunity for all.  Upon his passing, Senators of both parties eulogized him for his extraordinary work on behalf of all Americans, ”Few of us have done as much to make America equal to its dream,” said Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

In 1966, Javits authored legislation to bring private enterprise into the war on poverty, creating the innovative public/private partnership called the Economic Opportunity Corporation. The goal was to engage the private sector to promote job training, affordable housing, and growth in America’s most impoverished areas and utilize private investments and initiative to do so.  He believed the corporate approach would bring a business-like focus to the war on poverty.

In 1971, Javits called on President Nixon to expand on promises made by previous administrations.  This included calls to increase child development funding, stabilize anti-poverty funds through annual funding commitments, and expand programs at the grassroots level to reach people where help was needed most.

Additional elements of his legacy include:

  • Collaborating with Bobby Kennedy to put into place the first legislation that provided public support for Community Development Corporations (CDCs).  While Bedford Stuyvesant was the first, hundreds of CDCs are now all over the country creating affordable housing, jobs, and other programs today.
  • Expanded the Wagner-O’Day Act, now called AbilityOne. It creates nonprofit businesses providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities.
  • Javits was also active in getting the Civil Rights Act passed, as well as much of the major housing and social legislation from legal aid to Job Corps that comprised the war on poverty.
  • Today, the Office of Community Services at HHS still administers a program that came from his initial legislation that has backed CDC’s to create social enterprises of all kinds.

The Next 50 Years:  REDF, led by Carla Javits, is showing business, government and nonprofit leaders what is possible when they provide opportunities for employment to everyone. The solutions for the next 50 years will come by supporting successful organizations that combine business solutions that create jobs with supports that provide training and counseling to those who most need our help and a second chance. The path forward includes efforts to:

  • Invest: REDF is a highly engaged funder that provides funding, business assistance, access to networks and more to help their portfolio nonprofits create sustainable businesses, called social enterprises.
  • Learn & Share: REDF values data and measurable impacts. They encourage the organizations they work with to drive performance improvements based on data; and REDF captures and shares lessons from their work with funders and businesses around the country to help others make a stronger impact on the lives of those they serve.
  • Lead the Network: REDF spearheads innovative solutions in collaboration with private industry, government and nonprofits to develop strategies that leverage dollars and can create the maximum impact on the lives of those we serve.
  • Create Sustainability: REDF uses proven business practices to ensure the sustainability of the nonprofits that they support so those organizations can operate successful social enterprises – businesses with a “double bottom line,” which make money in order to employ more people.

 REDF’s Impact: Jobs can have a powerful role in transforming lives and communities, and REDF believes that the opportunity to work should be available to everyone, everywhere. When the people REDF’s portfolio partners employ, go to work and earn a paycheck, they make their neighborhoods safer, their families stronger, and their communities more vibrant.

Started in 1997 by George R. Roberts, (co-founder of the private equity firm KKR) REDF has supported 50 social enterprises in California that have earned over $140 million and employed more than 8,000 people facing the greatest barriers to employment. With the collaboration and support of others, REDF is scaling this model nationally to help thousands more people.


 About Carla Javits – REDF’s President and CEO, Carla Javits, provides the leadership and vision that drives its mission to provide equity-like investments and business assistance to “double bottom line” social enterprises, which run money-making businesses in order to employ people facing the greatest barriers to work. Inspired by the leadership of REDF’s founder, George R. Roberts, Carla focuses on achieving measurable results by leveraging the business community’s knowledge, networks, and resources, and the mission of the nonprofit to create jobs and tackle the challenges of homelessness, incarceration, mental health, and addiction.

Before coming to REDF, Carla was the national President and CEO of the Corporation for Supportive Housing, where she was responsible for providing grants, loans, and technical assistance to service-enriched housing initiatives that ended homelessness for tens of thousands. She was also the Program Analyst with the California Office of the Legislative Analyst and Director of Policy and Planning for the San Francisco Department of Social Services.

Carla holds a BA and Master’s in Public Policy from UC Berkeley. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Social Enterprise Alliance and the Melville Charitable Trust and as an Advisor to the Board of SourceAmerica. She is a member of the Advisory Committee of The Philanthropic Initiative as well as the Insight Center for Community Economic Development National Advisory Board

About REDF 

Since 1997, REDF, a California-based nonprofit, has led the pioneering effort to create jobs and employment opportunities for people facing the greatest barriers to work—like young people who’ve dropped out of school, people who’ve been in prison or homeless, and those who live with mental health disabilities.  REDF believes the opportunity to work should be available to everyone, everywhere. They also know the power jobs can have in transforming lives and communities.

REDF works at the intersection where market forces meet social impact. It’s an idea introduced by George R. Roberts, one of the founders of KKR, a leading private equity firm. In 1997, Roberts started REDF to put his own money to work to end persistent joblessness and launched what would become known as venture philanthropy.

Now they’re taking best practices learned from over 15 years of experience to scale social enterprise impact nationally and put hundreds of thousands of people to work.  www.REDF.org