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REDF Accelerator

Accelerating growth & impact

A unique program designed specifically for the leaders of employment social enterprise

Are you a leader of an employment social enterprise poised for growth and greater impact? Are you looking to strengthen your program and your bottom line? Build a community of support with like-minded peers?

The REDF Accelerator could be the right program for you.

REDF has a 20+ year track record of investing exclusively in social enterprises that employ and empower people overcoming barriers to work. The REDF Accelerator is a unique, hands-on program designed to support and connect the leaders of employment social enterprise. Described as a “mini-MBA” for social enterprise leaders, our Accelerator is tailored for entrepreneurs who are ready for growth.

During this highly interactive five-month program you’ll work alongside peers to learn and put into practice the methods, skills, and tools needed to achieve big goals and reach key milestones. And there’s no fee to participate. 

The benefits don’t end after those five months―once you have successfully completed the REDF Accelerator, you will become part of REDF’s Community of 150+ high impact employment social enterprises located around the country, gaining access to funding, other valuable REDF programs, and the opportunity to continue to learn alongside your peers.

To see what some of our last Accelerator cohort had to say watch this video. You can find a directory of all of our Accelerator Alumni here.

Note: Accelerator sessions in 2021 will be held virtually.

Benefits

  • Gain business and programmatic operations insights. Establish methods to increase earned revenue, identify cash and investment needs, design effective employment and wraparound service programs, and the systems to measure impact.
  • Develop leadership skills that spur innovation. Hone your communication and problem-solving strategies, re-examine business assumptions, and learn how to make data-driven decisions.
  • Connect with like-minded peers. Pick up key insights, strengthen your network, and create valuable long-term relationships.
  • Sharpen your marketing and funding pitch. Define your unique value proposition in a simple and concise way, and get a deeper understanding of your customer and how to engage them.
  • Build confidence.  Feel greater certainty to take measurable and affordable risks to advance your venture.
  • Join REDF’s social enterprise community. After program completion, you will have access to ongoing programming and resources which will help you continue to strengthen your business, as well as opportunities to connect, collaborate, and learn from  REDF’s network of over 150 social enterprises located in 30 states and DC.
  • Become eligible for REDF’s three-year Growth Portfolio. Organizations that complete the Accelerator program can apply for REDF’s Growth Portfolio, which provides grants paired with capacity building services to propel the growth and effectiveness of mission-driven businesses.

Curriculum

The core curriculum focuses on the following key areas:

  • Business Operations: marketing, finance, operations & organization program improvements
  • Programmatic Operations: employee wraparound services and designing programs to achieve intended outcomes

The Accelerator also equips Fellows with the tools and resources to:

  • Improve strategic thinking and planning skills
  • Set (and execute!) bold professional and personal goals
  • Diagnose and overcome challenges by applying a “growth mindset” approach
  • Develop strong relationships with peers for problem-solving and future support
  • Increase the effectiveness of your funding pitch

Eligibility

Enterprise

  • Must provide paid employment and wraparound services to REDF’s focus populations, including those with a history of homelessness, incarceration, addiction, mental illness, opportunity youth, refugees, survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. 
  • Must generate earned revenue ($100K-2M) via providing goods or services. If revenue is above or below this range, you’ll be asked to provide more detail as to why you believe this program is the right fit for the enterprise. For example:
    • Revenue is currently $88K/year but there are active contracts that will bring the enterprise to $140K this fiscal year.
    • Revenue is currently $2.2M/year, operating costs are high, and the programmatic side of the enterprise is struggling since it lacks expertise in employee supports and workforce development.
  • Must pay wages that meet local minimum wage thresholds.
  • Have been in operation for at least 12 months prior to February 15, 2021
  • Can be either a stand-alone employment social enterprise, or an employment social enterprise housed under a parent agency.

 

Applicant 

  • Must lead an employment social enterprise and/or have full decision-making authority within the social enterprise.
  • Must commit to attending three virtual sessions and actively engage in peer collaboration between sessions.
  • Willing and able to provide two years of key data to REDF.
  • Willing to work on challenging issues you face as a leader, get comfortable making tough decisions, and taking measurable/affordable risks to advance your ESE.

How to Apply

  • If after reviewing this list you have questions about whether you are eligible, please contact us at connect@redf.org. The next Accelerator application opens in February and the cohort sessions will begin in June 2021. 
  • To receive updates about the REDF Accelerator, please sign up for our newsletter here.

REDF Accelerator Fellows

Located around the country, Accelerator alumni are poised to make major moves in the employment social enterprise sector.

More on REDFworkshop

REDFworkshop has the tools, resources, and connections you need to grow your business and increase your impact.

I love the cohort model. All of the Accelerator Fellows are knowledgeable and really passionate about their work. We are becoming such a closely tied community, and I think every startup entrepreneur needs a community.

Jerelyn Rodriguez, Co-Founder and CEOThe Knowledge House

The Accelerator program feels like an MBA program designed for my nonprofit social enterprise. The depth and specificity of learning, and how relevant it has been to my work, is incredible.

Paul Fordham, Deputy Director of Homeward BoundWagster Treats

The community and networking that the Accelerator program offers is fantastic and so energizing. It’s incredible to meet people from across the country doing such phenomenal, impactful things.

Paige Pavalone, Executive DirectorMissoula Works

Being part of the Accelerator is going to help me take my social enterprise to the next level. I have learned so many new lessons and ideas – from other participants and the speakers – that I can take home and implement.

Justin Green, Founder and Executive DirectorBig Reuse