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The nation’s first statewide investment in employment social enterprise

Launched in 2023, CA RISE (California Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise) marks the nation’s first statewide capital and capacity-building investment in employment social enterprises.

In partnership with the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), REDF serves as program lead for this $25 million investment and will deliver customized technical assistance to businesses across the state that employ, train, and support talented Californians overcoming barriers to employment.

Together, these capital and capacity investments will grow the sector – and accelerate economic inclusion and mobility across California.

Funded in part through a Grant with the California Office of the Small Business Advocate. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate.

What is an Employment Social Enterprise?

An employment social enterprise (ESE) is a for-profit or non-profit organization that earns revenue through the sale of a good or service produced by employees overcoming barriers to work. Each entity should have a stated mission that they exist specifically for the purpose of providing employment, training, and supportive services to people overcoming barriers to work. Program outcomes are just as important as business outcomes to ESEs.

How CA RISE Works

CA RISE provides grant capital paired with technical assistance to support the growth of employment social enterprises in California.

ESEs selected for CA RISE through a competitive grant process will receive a one-time grant of between $100,000 – $500,000 to support investments related to the sustainable growth of their business, increased economic mobility among their participant employees, or, in some cases, both. (Grant award amounts will be determined by the ESE’s operating budget. Ranges and corresponding grant award amounts will be detailed at the time of the application release.)

In addition to grant funding, all CA RISE grantees will receive customized, in-depth capacity building in the areas of sustainable growth and economic mobility. Grantees will have access to:

  • cohort-based and one-to-one customized technical assistance;
  • cohort-based training on two learning tracks: Sustainable Growth and Economic Mobility;
  • a suite of tools and learning modules on REDFworkshop;
  • assistance enrolling in additional government programs (for example, SNAP Employment & Training)
  • relationship management from a REDF staff member; and
  • peer consulting from other local employment social enterprises.

In line with our commitment to advance the employment social enterprise sector at large, REDF will connect grantees with local public partners, training providers, and private sector employers. In partnership, we can significantly expand opportunities for people overcoming barriers to employment – and build an economy that works. For everyone.

CA RISE Program Fact Sheet

If you have additional questions about the CA RISE program, please contact our team. 

How to Apply for Funding

Pre-applications for CA RISE have closed. Thank you to all organizations that submitted.

If your organization is eligible to continue in the application process after a review of your pre-application, you will be notified by email, and receive a link to the full CA RISE application in early 2024. Note: this is a competitive grant process – eligibility does not guarantee a program award.

If you have questions about the CA RISE program or application process, or need assistance accessing any application materials, please contact our team. 

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REDF’s Government Partnerships

Explore our other government partnerships designed to grow and strengthen the national field of employment social enterprises.

CA RISE is exactly what we need to help those who were formerly incarcerated and homeless find employment. It’s an investment in revenue-generating jobs and businesses, in developing our workforce, and ensuring that all Californians get a fair chance at economic opportunity.

Assemblymember Kevin McCartyD-Sacramento

CalOSBA’s mission is to increase economic mobility through entrepreneurship. Employment social enterprises have a proven track record of achieving that objective through employment and on-the-job training. We are confident that REDF’s deep expertise will support the work of each CA RISE participant and further the Governor’s vision of a California For All. We are excited to launch this first-in-the-nation effort in partnership with REDF and Lendistry.

Tara Lynn GrayDirector, CalOSBA