Skip to content
Home Search


Creating opportunity at a systems level

REDF informs and influences federal, state, and local policymakers to promote the growth of employment social enterprise and to increase economic opportunity for enterprise employees.

In partnership with policymakers, we can help individuals overcoming high barriers to employment enter the workforce and contribute their skills and talents to our economy. As the U.S. charts a path toward economic recovery, employers across the country are struggling to fill positions. It would be easy to conclude “anyone who wants a job can find one,” but the truth is that millions of people in America with dreams of a better life remain shut out of opportunity. Both our federal policy recommendations and California policy recommendations highlight how we can support ESEs to help create a more inclusive economy that will deliver benefits to us all.

Employment social enterprises provide transitional, paid employment and wraparound services to help people striving to overcome high employment barriers, often caused or exacerbated by racial discrimination and enduring inequities, stabilize their lives, gain skills and confidence, and succeed. REDF’s 2019 impact report of 134 ESEs across 50 states found that nearly 70% of employees are people of color (42% Black, 26% Latinx) and face the following employment barriers:




Unstable housing or homelessness


Mental illness/substance use disorder


Opportunity Youth

ESEs are a valuable partner in the work to build a more equitable and inclusive economy. A cost-benefit analysis conducted among a sample of ESEs in REDF’s portfolio found that every dollar invested in social enterprise generated $2.23 in benefits to society. Given the evidence base and measurable success of ESEs, all levels of government should do more to help these businesses scale. Since 2016, REDF has developed and advocated for federal, California, and Los Angeles City and County policy measures that support evidence-based ESEs and their employees. Take a look at our legislative and budgetary successes below, along with our public-private partnership case study illustrating the impact of scaling an ESE and providing career pathways for formerly incarcerated ESE employees.

REDF has extended our capacity by joining with workforce partners to promote ESEs in state and federal policy. Along with America Forward and Results for America, REDF established the Resourcing Employment Social Enterprises Together (RESET) coalition to advocate for capital, resources, and policy change to support these businesses across the U.S. Working with this coalition, we successfully pushed for the inclusion of ESEs in the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act and the Long-Term Unemployment Elimination Act, which name ESEs for the first time in federal legislation and would establish an evidence-based subsidized employment program that prioritizes individuals overcoming barriers to work.

National Impact of REDF-Supported Employment Social Enterprises (2019)


People assisted, trained, and employed


Revenue earned and reinvested in people and jobs


Income earned by social enterprise employees

Legislative Successes

California Senate Bill 779 (REDF co-sponsored) – signed into law September 23, 2021

Author: Senator Josh Becker

SB 779 includes employment social enterprises and worker cooperatives as examples of “earn and learn” programs. Such programs combine applied learning in a workplace setting with compensation, allowing participants to gain work experience and secure a wage as they develop skills and competencies directly relevant to the occupation or career for which they are preparing – a direct alignment with innovative work models, like ESEs and worker cooperatives. Furthermore, the bill defines employment social enterprises in labor code, so when any workforce development funding comes from the State and/or the Federal governments, ESEs will be included.

California Assembly Bill 1076 – signed into law October 8, 2019

Author: Assemblymember Phil Ting

Requires the California Department of Justice to automate arrest and conviction relief by dismissing eligible convictions for individuals who have completed their probation and/or county jail sentence, arrests that did not result in a conviction for qualified misdemeanors one year after the arrest, and qualified non-serious, non-violent, non-sex felonies three years after arrest.

California Assembly Concurrent Resolution 50 – signed into law September 9, 2019

Author: Assemblymember David Chiu

Calls upon the state’s workforce system to develop more effective training programs for Limited English Proficient individuals, remove barriers for individuals reentering the workforce, and to create goals and metrics that are directly tied to improving equity and access to workforce development and quality jobs for all Californians.

House Resolution 4174 – signed into law January 14, 2019

Author: Representative Paul Ryan

Establishes an Interagency Council on Evaluation Policy to assist the Office of Management and Budget in supporting government-wide evaluation activities and policies. The bill defines “evaluation” to mean an assessment using systematic data collection and analysis of one or more programs, policies, and organizations intended to assess their effectiveness and efficiency.

California Assembly Bill 2762 – signed into law on September 21, 2018

Author: Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo

Expands contracting preferences to include Social Enterprises and Disabled Veterans Businesses and to increase the preference allowance from 5 percent up to 7 percent.

California Assembly Bill 2138 – signed into law on September 30, 2018

Author: Assemblymember David Chiu

Reduces barriers to occupational licensing for individuals with a prior conviction applying for licensure through the Department of Consumer Affairs.

California Assembly Bill 415 (REDF co-sponsor) – signed into law September 28, 2017

Author: Assemblymember David Chiu

Allows for counties and/or state to contract directly with employment social enterprises, nonprofits, public educational institutions, or designated intermediaries to utilize CalFresh (California’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Employment and Training funds to support a robust array of education and training.

California Assembly Bill 864 – signed into law October 11, 2017

Author: Assemblymember Kevin McCarty

Authorizes the Director of the California Conservation Corps, in implementing the California Conservation Corps program, to select an applicant for enrollment in the corps’ program who is on probation, parole, post-release community supervision, or mandatory supervision.

California Assembly Bill 1008 – signed into law October 14, 2017

Author: Assemblymember Kevin McCarty

Extends the Ban the Box law in California to private employers. Ban the Box prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their convictions until the applicant has received a conditional offer.

California Assembly Bill 1111 – signed into law October 15, 2017

Author: Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia

Support partnerships between community-based organizations and workforce development boards to prepare individuals with barriers to employment to successfully enter and complete postsecondary credential attainment programs.

California Senate Bill 1219 (REDF sponsor) – passed out of Legislature August 25, 2016

Author: Senator Loni Hancock

Though vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown due to information technology costs, this bill would have granted an employment social enterprise the preference and status to secure state business and procurement contracts. Additionally, the bill would have established a state-level certification for employment social enterprises that can be recognized by a local jurisdiction or special district for local procurement preferences.

Los Angeles County Local Small Business Enterprise, Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise and Social Enterprise Preference Programs – adopted January 12, 2016

Authors: Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Chair Hilda Solis

Through the fall of 2015 through its passage in July 2016, REDF advocated and mobilized support for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors efforts to amend the Small Business and Locally Owned Business Certification Program to include social enterprises. The new guidelines, issued in October 2016, expand the County’s certification, procurement policies and contract preferences for small business now include provisions for social enterprise businesses.

Budgetary Successes

California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) Expansion – included in 2019-20 budget

Expanded CalEITC by 1) Increasing the income limit to qualify for the CalEITC to $30,000; 2) Increasing the size of the CalEITC for tax filers with annual earnings toward the higher end of what is needed to qualify for the credit currently; 3) Creating a “young child tax credit” that provides an additional $1,000 to families who qualify for the CalEITC and have at least one child under age 6.

LA:RISE Los Angeles City & County Funding – included in 2019-2020 budgets

Beginning in 2016, REDF has advocated for local funding for the LA:RISE program. For the 2016-2017 budget, the Los Angeles City General Fund allocated the program $2 million. In the 2017-2018 budget, Los Angeles City General Fund re-allocated the program $2 million. Additionally, in the 2017-2018 budget, Los Angeles County, through the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative, allocated LA:RISE $5 million. The 2018-2019 City and County budgets continued to support the program with $2 million and $5 million allocations respectively. For the 2019-2020 budgets, both the City and County increased LA:RISE funding to $3 million and $7 million, respectively, bringing total local funding for LA:RISE to $10 million.

California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) – included in 2018-19 budget

Expands CalEITC to young adults and seniors, in addition to increasing the income limit to account for the rising state minimum wage.

California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) – included in 2017-18 budget

Allows previously ineligible self-employed workers to qualify for the CalEITC and raises the credit’s income eligibility limits so that workers higher up the income scale can qualify for it.

Social Innovation Fund Congressional Appropriations Advocacy – included in 2017-18 budget

The Social Innovation Fund was a federal program that empowered organizations to identify and support sustainable solutions that are already making a significant impact in transforming communities. Being a part of the Social Innovation Fund grantee network, REDF advocated for continued program funding with key Congressmembers. Unfortunately, in May 2017, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations bill that eliminated appropriation for the Social Innovation Fund for Fiscal Year 2017.