Over the next two years, REDF and its partners commit to employ at least 1,000 people who face significant barriers in social enterprises that provide transitional jobs and skill building and to engage mainstream employers to recruit, hire, support, and retain at least half of those employed. Social enterprises that focus on employment barriers will seek to partner with small, medium, and large companies through procurement and hiring opportunities that increase access to jobs for these high-barrier employees.
To expand the number of people accessing social enterprise jobs, REDF will advise two mainstream employers on how to source procurement and employee talent from social enterprises, connecting them with vetted social enterprises and community partners that can provide a pipeline of well-prepared employees by taking a demand-driven approach that ensures programs are tailored to employer preferences.
For example, in the area of e-waste recycling, REDF is providing technical assistance and advice to strengthen a new network of social enterprises to provide national coverage, harmonize pricing, and create a legal structure so that a large corporation has only one point of entry into the network and can operate seamlessly. As the network wins national contracts, each individual social enterprise can grow and hire more individuals with barriers and offer additional supports for these employees.
For mainstream employers, this partnership provides motivated, trained employees that in some cases have been shown to have lower turnover rates and higher safety performance than non-social enterprise employees. REDF and its partners will provide tools and methods for helping employees succeed, such as job readiness skills, career counseling, and access to social supports and public benefits. Support, which continues even after the employee has left the social enterprise, continues in the form of employment and life counselors. By employing people facing barriers to employment, companies may also be eligible to access tax and other incentives and can generate positive publicity and shareholder corporate social responsibility, and shared value for companies whose bottom line would improve with an efficient way to source prepared, diverse talent for entry level positions.
REDF will provide financial support to social enterprises in order to scale up their training and support programs and increase the participation of employees facing multiple barriers to employment, present these enterprises to sources of philanthropic growth capital, and connect social enterprises to similar industry-based networks to enhance competitiveness and increase market share by increasing their geographic scope.
June September 2015: Identify priority sector and geography for REDF expansion activities in order to target social enterprise/mainstream employer partnerships underway or with potential. Begin outreach to large mainstream employers with national presence to assess level of interest in social enterprise solutions.
October December 2015: Design of a competition which will award grant funding to winning consortia of social enterprise/employers for scalable, innovative partnerships which increase employment opportunities for those facing barriers.
January May 2016: Launch nationwide competition and continue to educate mainstream employers on benefits of sourcing and employing social enterprise workers.
June September 2016: Award funding and design 2-3 year programs to increase social enterprise training programs, identify and support related activities that facilitate the successful transition from social enterprise to supportive employers and eventually to mainstream employers with no additional supports.
October December 2018: Monthly meetings to review financial, operational, and job placement performance of the partnership.
Among the 8.6 million unemployed Americans, there are a group of chronically unemployed people that face multiple barriers, such as a history of incarceration or homelessness, people with mental disabilities, or young people who have dropped out of school and the workforce.
Social enterprises are mission-driven businesses focused on hiring and assisting people who are willing and able to work, but have the hardest time getting a job. For a given social enterprise, one-quarter of employees had never held a job before, and only 23% of monthly income came from work, with the remainder coming from government programs (71%) or transfers from others (5%). Indicators of life stability of employees of social enterprises were also low: about 85% did not have stable housing (own or rent their home for the entirety of a year), and nearly 70 % had been convicted of a crime and sentenced to jail. Nearly 30% lacked a high school diploma. Although differences in barriers existed in populations served by each organization, barriers were high at all organizations. Social enterprises provide soft skills and support to employees so that they can be prepared to transition to mainstream employers and progress in their career paths.
The social enterprise approach to employment gets people into jobs right away and trains them with soft skills along with technical and vocational skills. It provides additional supports to employees, such as job search assistance, clothing, transportation, or housing assistance so that they can apply for a job and show up ready to work.