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Impact to Last: Lessons from the Front Lines of Social Enterprise

Ben Thornley, Jacquelyn Anderson and Lauren Dixon

In these eight case studies, REDF (a California-based nonprofit, has led the pioneering effort to create jobs and employment opportunities for people facing the greatest barriers to work) highlights the work of social enterprise leaders around the country. By surveying groups such as the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio, REDF showcases the principal drivers of achieving scale and success, and paving the way towards a more inclusive economy.

Related to the challenges of managing business operations is the implementation of the worker-owned cooperative model. The model is one of the key innovations of the Evergreen approach and an important mechanism for not only increasing income, but also building wealth for residents of the target neighborhoods. However, the approach was difficult to operationalize within the context of a new business. As Evergreen CEO John McMicken said, "What we realized a couple years ago is that we need more structure and centralized oversight during the start-up and incubation period prior to being financially independent." Read full report.