Skip to content
Home Search

Why We Do It

To build an economy that works.
For everyone.

The Challenge

Regardless of where the U.S. economy is headed, one thing is certain—our economy works best when it works for everyone. 

We are missing out on all the talent and potential this country has to offer. Despite the drive to succeed, millions of Americans remain sidelined from access and opportunity. They face steep barriers to employment—barriers often caused and compounded by the racial inequities embedded in our systems.

Justice System Involvement
Mental Health/Substance Use Challenges
Opportunity Youth/Emerging Adult
Refugee or Asylee Status
Survivors of Domestic Violence / Trafficking
 Homeless / Unstably Housed
The Opportunity

REDF works to ensure we no longer miss out on this untapped talent, by investing in and driving demand for employment social enterprises (ESEs)—businesses that hire the very talent others have sidelined. ESEs exist because they see this talent pool for the strengths they hold, not the barriers they face. 


Employment social enterprises (ESEs) are businesses achieving transformative social impact. They know that our country has an epic talent pool that is yet unseen, so they build businesses where this talent can shine.

How? By selling high-quality products and services, and investing the money they make in their businesses and their people—providing good, paying jobs and vital supportive services that help their employees bust through barriers to employment. Think housing, access to childcare, mental health services, job coaching, and much more. 

When employees are ready, ESEs help them find, and keep, their next good job – and continue building on their success.

REDF builds the national field of 700+ employment social enterprises by providing funding and capacity building services, developing entrepreneurial leaders, and advocating for greater investment to help these businesses increase their impact and growth.

The Impact

When employment social enterprises thrive, so does our entire society.

Since 1997, REDF has partnered with 266 social enterprises in 38 states and the District of Columbia. These businesses have earned over $2 billion in revenue and employed over 100,000 people (and counting).

The broader impact is in lives transformed, as people find not just work, but hope, pride, belonging, and joy. When our economy works for everyone, families and communities are stronger—and so is our society.

$2.23 in benefits for every $1.00 invested in social enterprise

When more people contribute their talents to the economy, everyone wins.

George R. Roberts, FounderREDF

Employment social enterprise has a tremendous multiplier effect, reducing dependence on public funds, increasing self-reliance, and building a more inclusive society.

Jesse Rogers, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Altamont Capital Partners, REDF Board Member

I very much believe in the concept that the best social service program is a job. It provides self-sufficiency for the individual and sustainability for the organizations serving them. REDF is the absolute manifestation of that principle.

Chinwe Onyeagoro, CEO & Co-Founder of PocketSuite, REDF Board Member Alum