REDF is a venture philanthropy organization that creates jobs and employment opportunities for people facing the greatest barriers to work. It provides equity-like grants and business assistance to a portfolio of nonprofits in California to start and expand social enterprises—nonprofit-operated businesses selling goods and services demanded by the marketplace while intentionally employing young people and adults who would otherwise face bleak prospects of ever getting a job.

After more than a decade of laying the groundwork, REDF has built an extremely promising approach to a confounding issue that has cost Americans too much in tax dollars and lost hope and productivity. It is setting its sights on achieving even greater social impact by scaling a social innovation that helps thousands more people who face the toughest challenges to enter and advance in the permanent workforce—taking it from a “promising” to a “proven” solution.

REDF aims to develop an approach that can be widely replicated around the country that maximizes the employment of people who experience among the highest unemployment rates. The model will be centered on job-creating social enterprise, and it will incorporate the employee supports, on-ramps to mainstream jobs, business types, public-private partnerships, and advantaging policies required to achieve that goal.

Measuring impact is a critical element to REDF’s approach. In addition to monitoring progress against its goals, REDF’s pioneering social return on investment (SROI) research provides robust insight into the efficacy of the social enterprise model. With funding from the Social Innovation Fund, in 2011 REDF launched its work with Mathematica Policy Research Inc. to design and finalize evaluation plans with each of REDF’s portfolio organizations. REDF has also coordinated tracking of the number of social enterprise employees hired at each organization, and it is creating an interface to allow reporting on the number of employees hired, barriers to employment faced, and other variables from each organization using its existing data management system.

The number of unemployed people in Los Angeles is very high, as is the number of individuals who are considered "low-income." REDF sees Los Angeles as the perfect place to add value through social enterprise to address some of these social issues and also work with other stakeholders in the region to develop long-term, sustainable solutions to chronic poverty and joblessness.

Selected Awards:
Social Innovation Fund Award
Corporation for National and Community Service, 2010



Samra Haider
Portfolio Dir.

Based in San Francisco;
Office in Los Angeles

Area Served: 

# of Employees:

(Donations + Earned Income)

Guidestar Report