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create / 2020

Refoundry Los Angeles Program

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Refoundry

Refoundry’s goal is to expand our program in Los Angeles to serve at least 60 participants in 2020, and 75 people per year thereafter. My LA2050 funding will allow Refoundry to pay for essentials like tools, equipment, and insurance.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • South LA

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

What is the need you’re responding to?

We launched Refoundry because we believe mass incarceration is a main driver of systemic, generational poverty in disadvantaged communities. We serve formerly incarcerated people because despite observing an incredible amount of talent and resourcefulness in this population, and a deep commitment to contribute to their communities and help other formerly incarcerated people, they face a 10% job retention and 75% recidivism rate. We developed a new model because we feel traditional reentry/workforce development/entrepreneurship programs are undifferentiated, set a relatively low bar, and unintentionally contribute to policies and practices that reinforce barriers to social, economic and civic inclusion.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

In 2014, Refoundry founders Thomas Saifan and Cisco Pinedo designed a program drawn from their own personal experience with craft and entrepreneurship, and with employing and training people from justice-impacted communities.They launched pilots in Los Angeles and New York with impressive results: Refoundry entrepreneurs started 10 businesses that now employ 125 people; no one served has been imprisoned since participating in the program; all are off most forms of social service support; and a Columbia University Business School review estimated each Refoundry graduate created a net tax benefit of $100,000 per year. Refoundry relaunched in Los Angeles last year, and is planning a NYC relaunch in 2020.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

Direct impact
Indirect impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Refoundry plans to create a program model with a national footprint within five years, opening program sites in 10 strategically selected cities to ensure maximum impact on effected communities, tax revenue and systemic change. Over the course of our “five-year plan,” Refoundry will directly train 650 formerly incarcerated people, incubate more than 65 businesses owned and operated by Refoundry Entrepreneurs, move over 5,000 people from underserved communities into living wage employment at a cost of about $4,250 per job, generate $25M in revenue, and create a net tax benefit of $500M. The program plan will also rescue 2,000 tons (4 million pounds) of waste from landfill, and engage 10,000 people in Refoundry Workshops.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Refoundry is working with the Incarceration Public Health Action Network (IPHAN) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and the Washington, DC-based firm Giving Science Dimension (GSD), to develop a new comprehensive set of quantitative measurements, along with qualitative measurements based on the experience of participants. The proposed research will track more than 70 measurements, including income growth and savings, access to healthcare, and business ownership, as well as things like sense of personal self-worth, purchase of vehicle, volunteer work – and of course program attrition and recidivism.

Refoundry leadership believes that if it can demonstrate the success of its model at scale, it will open opportunities for both increased revenue generation and new avenues of revenue that can make the organization largely self-sustained within 5-7 years.

Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Minority- and women-owned businesses
  • Economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated
  • Unemployment rate

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?

  • LA is the best place to LEARN

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community
  • Host public events or gatherings
  • Communications support