Economic Self-Sufficiency and Life Stability One Year after Starting a Social Enterprise Job

Social Enterprise
Implementing Organization: 

REDF has been funding non-profit organizations running social enterprises since 1997. As part of its five-year strategy to transform how people with many employment barriers transition into the workforce, REDF partnered with the Social Innovation Fund to support and evaluate this strategy. Social enterprises are mission-driven businesses focused on hiring and assisting people who face barriers to work.

Life and work-related outcomes were tracked for 282 workers at seven social enterprises over the course of the study, which found:

  • Social enterprise workers moved toward economic self-sufficiency and life stability
    • employment up from 18 to 51%
    • in stable housing up from 15 to 53%
    • dependence on government support down from 71 to 24%
  • Social enterprises produced $2.23 in social benefits for every $1 they spent (by reducing dependence on government support and increasing tax revenue) 

Results from the Impact Evaluation generally support the tracked outcomes listed above, although the statistical significance of these observations is mixed. This is perhaps due to unobserved characteristics of the sample that could not be controlled for or small sample sizes, a common difficulty when working with people experiencing instabilities such as histories of homelessness, unstable housing, and incarceration.


CNCS Program(s): 
Social Innovation Fund
CNCS Focus Area(s): 
Economic Opportunity
Age(s) Studied: 
18-25 (Young adult)
26-55 (Adult)
Focus Population(s)/Community(s): 
Low Income
Outcomes Category(s): 
Study Type(s): 
Cost-Benefit or Cost Effectiveness Study
Study Design(s): 
Quasi-Experimental (QED)
Level of Evidence: 
Mathematica Policy Research
Year Published: 
Date Posted Online: 
September 14, 2015
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