A Californian coalition (The Economic Mobility Collaborative) sets out this vision: “Every Californian should have a chance to work, to discover their potential, and to share that potential with others.” The Collaborative suggests that, among the most important things we need to do is to, “effectively promote evidence-driven approaches designed for accountability and inclusion and needed to restore trust and confidence in government’s ability to solve big problems.” Economic mobility is an especially remote dream for Californians who have been incarcerated or homeless, and young adults who are not working or in school – many who also are challenged by substance use, mental health issues, and/or time spent in foster care. Increasing workforce participation and driving greater economic mobility will require business, philanthropy, nonprofits, and government to work together.
Fortunately, California leads the nation in fostering an evidence-backed solution to employ people overcoming these barriers: employment social enterprise. Employment social enterprises provide jobs, on-the-job training, and specialized supports to people who face high barriers to work. Despite their evidence and measurable success, employment social enterprises face obstacles in obtaining the capital needed to grow due to their unique social impact business model.
To meet this challenge, the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) has proposed to the California State Legislature the creation of an Employment Social Enterprise Fund. With an initial investment from the State, the Fund would make public investments to scale up employment social enterprises. It would also invest in the data and systems required to assess results, in order to improve progress toward inclusive economic stability and mobility objectives. If successful, the Fund would leverage philanthropy’s investment in employment social enterprises along with the revenues earned by these enterprises.
With its widening wealth gap and stark economic disparities, now is the time for California to create a bridge for philanthropy, nonprofits, business, and government to collaborate to support the vibrancy, growth, and stabilities of its diverse communities.
Carla Javits, President and CEO, REDF
Carla Javits is President and CEO of REDF (The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund), a pioneering venture philanthropy galvanizing a national movement of social enterprises—purpose-driven, revenue-generating businesses that help people striving to overcome employment barriers get good jobs, keep those jobs, and build better lives. Through her stewardship, REDF has invested in 177 social enterprises in 26 states. These businesses have generated $720 million in revenue and employed 36,135 people—and counting. REDF’s goal is to see 50,000 people employed by 2020, contributing their skills and talents to our communities and helping to build a stronger, more inclusive society.
Chet Hewitt, President & CEO, Sierra Health Foundation
Chet P. Hewitt has more than 25 years experience working in the public and nonprofit sectors, and has served as the President and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation since September 2007. During his tenure at Sierra Health, Chet has been credited with increasing the foundation’s impact by establishing new mission-driven grant programs and creating local, state and national partnerships.
Prior to joining the foundation, Chet spent five years as the Agency Director for the Alameda County Social Services Agency, where he was credited with transforming its child welfare system into a national model. He also worked as Associate Director for the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, and established and managed the West Coast office in San Francisco. Chet has received several national awards, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation Child and Family Leaders Fellowship and the 2009 Black Child Welfare Administrator of the Year.
Sandra Hernandez, President & CEO, California Health Care Foundation
Sandra R. Hernández, MD, is president and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation. Prior to joining CHCF, Sandra was CEO of The San Francisco Foundation, which she led for 16 years. She previously served as director of public health for the City and County of San Francisco. She also cochaired San Francisco’s Universal Healthcare Council, which designed Healthy San Francisco. It was the first time a local government in the US attempted to provide health care for all of its constituents.
In February 2018, Sandra was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the Covered California board of directors. She also serves on the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Advisory Council at UC Davis and on the UC Regents Health Services Committee. Sandra is an assistant clinical professor at the UCSF School of Medicine. She practiced at San Francisco General Hospital in the HIV/AIDS Clinic from 1984 to 2016.
Sandra is a graduate of Yale University, the Tufts School of Medicine, and the certificate program for senior executives in state and local government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Sarah Glenn-Leistikow, Deputy Executive Director, Center for Employment Opportunities
Sarah Glenn-Leistikow is the Deputy Executive Director, California at Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). Sarah’s work centers around supporting each of the 6 California offices at CEO in managing all aspects of the program as well as policy and external relationships. She has been with CEO for almost 6 years.
In addition to her work at CEO, Sarah is a licensed attorney and has served as a pro bono attorney for the Alliance for Children’s Rights, advocating for clients’ access to education and a volunteer at A New Way of Life reentry legal clinic. She has been working in reentry in various forms for the last 11 years. She has also worked as an employment attorney and as a high school history teacher, helping to found a small public school in the South Bronx, New York.