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Background
The Cascade Alliance, a project of St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County,  provides free consulting services to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations interested in setting up a waste-based business as a way to create permanent jobs for people from vulnerable populations and strengthen nonprofits with sustainable revenue generation.

Waste-based business is broadly defined as any business that uses items diverted from the waste stream as a resource for meeting a nonprofit’s mission. These enterprises typically meet a triple bottom line:
• Generate revenue that can be used to fund the managing organization’s charitable services
• Create jobs for the organization’s client base
• Do something good for the planet by responsibly reusing or recycling materials

Items are diverted from several sources, including dumps, transfer stations, corporate contracts, or individual donations, and are utilized for reuse, remanufacture, or recycling.
• Reuse is using a product as-is (example: selling books online or in a retail thrift store)
• Re-manufacture is taking an item and turning it into something else (example: clean materials from a second-hand mattress are used to make a dog or cat bed)
• Recycling is sending a large quantity of material to a secondary market for remanufacturing (example: gathering soda cans and selling them to a broker or an aluminum smelter)

One of the goals of this program is to use waste-based business to create jobs for people from vulnerable populations, which is defined as people who typically struggle to find employment within the mainstream workforce. They may be formerly incarcerated, people experiencing homelessness, victims of domestic violence, and/or people with low education and skill levels. Jobs created through this program should be permanent and full-time whenever possible. Ideally, they also provide people with access to health care or other health services (such as wellness programs). All partners will be required to demonstrate how they will grow their business to provide quality jobs.

The other goal of this program is to help strengthen nonprofits to become anchor organizations for their community. 

Program Benefits
If your organization is admitted to the Cascade Alliance you can expect to receive the following benefits:
• Free consulting services to help you establish a waste-based business
• Access to resources including sample business plans, budgets, information on commodity markets, and best practices
• Networking opportunities with other nonprofits involved in the network

Together, we can help you open a viable waste-based business, tailored to the scope and capacity of your organization, within one year. This business will be sustainable without subsidy over the long term, reduce your reliance on grant funds, and provide a stable source of income for your charitable programs. You will learn enough through the experience to develop other waste-based businesses should you so choose.

About the Questionnaire
Waste-based businesses will not work at every organization due to a variety of factors. In order to determine if your nonprofit is a good fit for this program, we’re asking all potential partners to submit the following 30 questions. There is no “passing” or “failing” grade; this is just our chance to get to know you better.

Once you submit the completed questionnaire, we will schedule a follow-up call to go over the results and map the next steps.

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