CalOSBA Invests $25 Million for Launch of Nation’s First Statewide Program to Support Employment Social Enterprises

Jul 17, 2023 | Press Release

The California Regional Initiative for Social Enterprises (CA RISE) program will build capacity and provide capital to businesses that hire, train, and support California workers facing barriers to employment.


SACRAMENTO, CA (July 17, 2023) —CalOSBA has selected its partners to build a first-of-its-kind program designed to accelerate economic inclusion by investing in the power of employment social enterprises (ESEs). CA RISE (California Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise) will help ESEs statewide improve their business stability and advance the economic mobility of their employees by pairing technical assistance and advisory support with grant funding for participating businesses.

CalOSBA has selected non-profit REDF to serve as program lead responsible for technical assistance and counseling to California’s ESEs or businesses that want to become an ESE. CalOSBA has also selected financing minority-led small business lender Lendistry to serve as the fiscal agent for administration of grants to eligible ESEs that complete REDF’s counseling program. Governor Gavin Newsom approved $25,000,000funding for CA RISE as part of the 2022-2023 state budget.

ESE businesses employ, train, and support talented Californians overcoming barriers to employment, including people often overlooked by employers because of their experiences of homelessness, incarceration, or mental health and substance use challenges; refugees; survivors of domestic violence and trafficking; and youth who have been in foster care.

ESEs participating in CA RISE will receive customized, in-depth technical assistance to ensure the sustainability and success of their businesses and become eligible to apply for grant funding through the program. REDF will also work with ESEs to connect them with local public partners, training providers, and private sector employers. Eligible businesses include non-profits and for-profits that are organized as social purpose or benefits corporations and with a demonstrated track record of achieving specific outcomes related to economic inclusion, stability, and mobility.

“CalOSBA’s mission is to increase economic mobility through entrepreneurship. Employment social enterprises have a proven track record of achieving that objective through employment and on-the-job training. We are confident that REDF’s deep expertise will support the work of each CA RISE participant and further the Governor’s vision of a California For All,” said CalOSBA Director Tara Lynn Gray. “We are excited to launch this first-in-the-nation effort in partnership with REDF and Lendistry.”

California’s 200 ESEs employ roughly 10,000 people each year—and this number is growing. REDF’s research verifies that ESEs deliver better job retention and more total income for their employees than other companies.

REDF is nationally recognized for building the  Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise (LA:RISE), a pioneering partnership between the City and County of Los Angeles workforce agencies that has invested in ESEs to provide transitional employment to more than 7,000 Angelenos.

About CalOSBA
The Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) helps support economic growth and innovation by working to ensure that California’s small businesses and entrepreneurs have the information, tools, and resources they need to plan, launch, manage and grow their businesses successfully and be resilient. The CalOSBA serves to elevate their voices in state government and to advocate on their behalf to help ensure all aspiring and current small business owners and entrepreneurs are provided with the opportunity to access capital, access markets, and connect to the networks and resources they need to succeed. For more information, visit the website.

Sara Curtis
Chief of Staff
Email Sara, HERE

About REDF
REDF invests in employment social enterprises (ESEs) — businesses that provide jobs, training, and support to people breaking through barriers to employment. REDF partners with these businesses and the entrepreneurs who lead them — providing capital, capacity, and community — to amplify their transformative impact. Since 1997, REDF has invested in more than 280 ESEs in 38 states and DC. Collectively these partnerships have helped 100,000 people enter the workforce and generate more than $2 billion in revenue that is reinvested in employee success—creating a ripple effect that strengthens families and communities and helps build an economy that works for everyone. For more information, visit

About Lendistry
B.S.D. Capital, Inc. dba Lendistry ( is a minority-led fintech that provides innovative lending products and access to grant programs for small businesses nationwide. Headquartered in a Los Angeles Opportunity Zone, Lendistry uses technology and community partnerships to overcome systemic gaps that inhibit access to capital, and to empower its customers with responsible financing options. Based on its reputation for deploying funds efficiently and equitably, Lendistry’s leadership is often called upon to share their expertise with both government and private organizations. Lendistry has both Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Community Development Entity (CDE) certifications and is a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. Lendistry SBLC, LLC is the nation’s only African American-led SBA designated Small Business Lending Company. In collaboration with The Center by Lendistry, a nonprofit business education organization, Lendistry dedicates itself to providing economic opportunities and progressive growth for underserved urban and rural small business borrowers and their communities.

About GO-Biz
The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) serves as the State of California’s leader for job growth and economic development efforts. GO-Biz offers a range of services to business owners including: attraction, retention and expansion services, site selection, permit streamlining, clearing of regulatory hurdles, small business assistance, international trade development, assistance with state government, and much more. For more information visit the GO-Biz website.

Heather Purcell
Deputy Director of Communications
Email Heather, HERE

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