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Why We Do It

Because a job provides so much more than a paycheck

The Challenge

Despite a strong economy and record-low unemployment levels, nearly ten million people are shut out of the workforce.

People who have been impacted by the criminal justice system
People with mental health challenges and those struggling with addiction
People who are or have been homeless
Young people who are not working or in school
The Opportunity

People striving to overcome employment barriers and build a better life want what we all want—the opportunity to take care of themselves and their families, and contribute their skills and talents to our country and the economy.

Employment social enterprises provide that pathway.

The Solution

Employment social enterprises are mission-driven, revenue-generating businesses that provide paying transitional jobs and supportive services to help people stabilize their lives, develop a work history, and build skills and confidence. When employees are ready, social enterprises help them find competitive employment. Because social enterprises reinvest their profits in their businesses so they can help more people, they require less outside funding, and are more sustainable.

REDF invests exclusively in the effectiveness and growth of these unique businesses. With our social enterprise partners, we aim to achieve results at the scale the challenge demands, with a sustainable approach that returns $2.23 to society for every dollar invested.

Together, we are working to build a better, more inclusive society where all people have the jobs and support they need to get ahead—and the pride, purpose, and path to self-sufficiency they’ve earned.

The Impact

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

Since 1997, REDF has partnered with 183 social enterprises in 26 states. These businesses have earned $755 million in revenue and employed over 37,000 people (and counting).

The broader impact is in lives transformed, as people find not just work, but hope, pride, belonging, and a path to self-sufficiency. When people work, we leverage all of the talent available to our country. Families and communities are stronger—and so is our society.

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

If you don't have a job, you don't have hope, and if you don't have hope, what do you have?

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, REDF Board MemberAltamont Capital Partners

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, REDF Board MemberPocketSuite