The Cascade Alliance provides free consulting services to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations interested in setting up waste-based business as a way to creating permanent jobs for people from vulnerable populations. Organizations involved in this program must demonstrate how employment will help people achieve better health (typically by giving people access to health insurance or other health services).
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. In a waste-based business they 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 remanufacture (example: gathering soda cans and selling them to a broker or an aluminum smelter)
The goal 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 ex-offenders, 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. They must 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 provide these services to their employees.
The Cascade Alliance is managed by the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County (SVDP) and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more information about SVDP’s proven track record of success with waste-based business, please visit our website at www.svdp.us.
If your organization is admitted to the Sustainable Work program you can expect to receive the following benefits:
• Free consulting services to help you establish a waste-based business
• Regular phone calls, and in-person visits as necessary, from Sustainable Work staff
• Access to resources including sample business plans, budgets, information on commodity markets, and best practices
• Networking opportunities with other nonprofits involved in the Sustainable Work program
Our goal is to 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 business 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 questionnaire. 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. We may ask you to complete a couple follow-up tasks to further explore whether waste-based business is likely to s