New and exciting things have been taking place at Touch A Heart. In January, we embarked on a journey with the REDF Accelerator, a program designed for leaders of employment social enterprises (ESEs). REDF invests exclusively in ESEs, like Touch A Heart, that achieve transformative social impact through jobs, training, and support for people breaking through barriers to employment.
Our Executive Director Robin learned about REDF from friend and participant Tess Reynolds of New Door Ventures in San Francisco. Robin applied in 2019 and was invited to interview for the 2020 cohort. Since we had already been accepted into the 2019-2020 Hawaii Investment Ready (HIR) Accelerator program, we chose to focus our time and attention on that first. Not only did Lisa Kleissner and Keoni Lee of HIR prepare us for the REDF Accelerator, what we learned enabled us to thrive and grow during the COVID-19 pandemic that began when we completed the HIR program in March 2020. This year, we were honored to be accepted into the all-virtual REDF Accelerator cohort of 17 for-profit and nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. and to be the only participant from Hawaii.
"REDF is a community of like-minded experts that provided us with amazing opportunities to collaborate, learn, train, and share from the collective knowledge and wisdom of one another," Robin said.
Commitment to the program required Robin to spend three weeks throughout January, March, and May participating in all-day sessions from as early as 5:30 a.m. "The sessions were grueling, and in between, we had deep-dive groups to respond to questions and sharing with a smaller group," she explained. "All of us were in different stages of growth, but because of that, we were able to learn, grow, and glean from one another. REDF provided us with a wide range of resources and introduced us to many successful ESE leaders who are willing to help and guide us. The relationships developed will be with us for a lifetime."
Our biggest takeaway from this experience is the importance of collaboration and community. "We all have something to share with one another, and when we do, the collective impact makes for something greater than what we could ever do individually,” Robin reflected. "When we collaborate in community, the potential for impact and transformation grows exponentially."