Client: The Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program
Client Location: Pasadena, CA
CDFI: REDF Impact Investing Fund
CDFI Service Area: National
- Technical assistance and financing for working capital, with support from the Finance Justice Fund
Brandon Smith and Royal Ramey created The Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program (FFRP) to help others, like themselves, who had justice system involvement to navigate the complicated process of becoming firefighters. FFRP’s mission is to increase the number of wildfire personnel from non-traditional and underrepresented communities by providing them with the training, skills, and resources needed to secure long-term employment.
Smith heard about REDF Impact Investing Fund (RIIF), a loan fund that provides flexible capital and capacity building to help employment social enterprises improve financial stability, attract new investment, and grow, after completing the REDF Accelerator, a hands-on five-month program designed exclusively for employment social enterprise leaders.
With an eye toward expanding to the San Francisco Bay Area from Southern California and providing supportive jobs for more individuals with justice system involvement, FFRP secured a line of credit with RIIF for working capital support for payroll and operations while awaiting a reimbursement on an awarded state-funded contract.
“This process forced us to really button up. It was a lot of work, but good work. It felt like the RIIF team also had the best intentions for us, so that made us feel safe,” said Smith.
Since its inception, FFRP has trained more than 3,000 individuals and helped 140 people obtain jobs. FFRP participants are provided with health and social support services needed for successful career planning. Upon release from incarceration, FFRP participants receive critical on-the-job training and a continuum of professional development opportunities through its pre-apprenticeship program, including post-secondary educational resources to build their resumes, submit applications, and prepare for interviews.
FFRP also provides transportation services to work crews and all necessary equipment to complete assignments. They also provide employees with housing, childcare, healthcare, substance use disorder treatment referrals, assistance in enrolling in benefits programs such as TANF, SNAP, and Medicaid, and cash assistance with tuition or certifications and access to food pantries.
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