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Why We Do It

Because a job provides so much more than a paycheck

The Challenge

The economic challenges now facing our country are severely impacting the people social enterprise businesses serve – ten million men and women striving to overcome employment barriers.

People impacted by the justice system
People with mental illness and addiction
People who are or have been homeless
Young people who are not working or in school
Refugees legally able to work
Survivors of domestic abuse and trafficking
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 deserve.

The Impact

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

Since 1997, REDF has partnered with 219 social enterprises in 30 states and the District of Columbia. These businesses have earned over $1.1 billion in revenue and employed over 73,000 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

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

George R. Roberts, FounderREDF

Many people of color and other disadvantaged Americans were systemically prevented from fully participating in the “American Dream” for centuries. The social enterprises supported by REDF, and its loan fund RIIF (the REDF Impact Investing Fund) help them break through those barriers through job training and enterprise development.

Lewis Byrd, President of Lanc Industries, REDF Board Member

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