FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nate Ragolia, Writer/Narrative Strategist
DENVER (June 25, 2013) – The Beanstalk Foundation, a Denver-based nonprofit organization committed to capacity building for community leaders and nonprofits in Colorado, today announced the launch of a new social enterprise loan fund. The innovative fund awarded its first loan to Colorado Springs, Colo.-based nonprofit Blue Star Recyclers to grow a unique electronic waste recycling program in Colorado that employs people with developmental disabilities.
The $53,500 loan is being awarded on the eve of Colorado’s e-waste landfill ban under the Electronic Recycle Jobs Act. Beginning July 1, 2013, it will be unlawful for Colorado residents to dispose of electronic waste in landfills. All electronics must be recycled to recover materials, reduce energy demands and save resources.
The Beanstalk Foundation’s nonprofit-to-nonprofit loan fund seeks to provide well-run Colorado charities and social enterprises with the capital to grow and become sustainable. Once sustainable, the intention is for the monies to be recycled and paid forward to help the next worthy cause.
Blue Star Recyclers, the first recipient of the new loan fund, is using this money to fund a new program director position. The program director is responsible for expanding the organization’s unique model into at least six additional municipalities over the next year. In addition, a portion of the funding has already been used to help Blue Star achieve e-Stewards, R2 and ISO 14001 certifications. The certifications help distinguish the organization as an environmental leader in the recycling industry, allowing Blue Star to better market itself to government accounts and large businesses. Different from other recyclers in the state, Blue Star Recyclers’ mission is to use electronics recycling as an opportunity to create meaningful and positive work experiences for individuals with developmental disabilities, including those with autism. The organization has successfully employed more than 40 people who have helped recycle more than 1,800 tons of e-waste since 2010.
“We knew we had a great model, but in order to expand Blue Star Recyclers’ social enterprise model we needed to hire a new program director, and unfortunately getting funding to pay a salary is a big hurdle for nonprofits to cross,” said Bill Morris, CEO of Blue Star Recyclers. “We are fortunate the Beanstalk Foundation recognizes the value in our unique approach and had both the vision and expertise to craft a first-of-its-kind loan that will make it possible for us to maintain our triple bottom line and grow as a responsible business.”
Beanstalk Foundation founder Ted Stolberg, a former private equity manager, implemented the new lending concept after recognizing that grant-making organizations, commercial banks and individual donors typically turn down nonprofit requests for salaries and other assets required to expand and build capacity. The Foundation spent several months designing the fund and is one of only a handful of foundations in Colorado making loans to other nonprofits.
“Bringing Colorado nonprofit leaders and their organizations to sustainability, especially those like Blue Star Recyclers, requires that we rethink the way we work with and fund nonprofits,” said Stolberg. “Donations and grants alone would have kept Blue Star Recyclers’ model running at its current capacity, but it would not have had the capacity to grow. We believe that giving successful Colorado nonprofits the chance to expand is the best way to make a positive impact in our state.”
About Beanstalk Foundation
The mission of the Beanstalk Foundation is to create vibrant communities in Colorado and beyond. Our strategy is to identify dynamic local leaders and provide the tools they need to succeed. We do not impose our vision on a community. Rather, we support community leaders and enable them to fulfill their visions. Beanstalk connects community leaders with both individual and corporate donors. In our model, donors are free to choose the projects that best suit their vision of community development. This leads to greater engagement between donors and leaders and stronger, more vibrant communities. Ultimately, Beanstalk is founded on the belief that what’s right with Colorado is right next door. For more information, visit www.beanstalkfoundation.org or follow the Beanstalk Foundation on Twitter and Facebook.
About Blue Star Recyclers
Blue Star Recyclers is an award-winning 501(c)(3) social enterprise founded in 2009 through initial and ongoing support of the Fagnant family, owners of Qualtek Manufacturing. Together, Qualtek Manufacturing and Blue Star Recyclers are demonstrating how Qmunity© can be achieved when local businesses collaborate to produce environmental and social deliverables. To date they have created 50 local jobs for people with autism and other disabilities in six Colorado communities and ethically recycled over 3 million pounds of electronic waste. Meaningful employment provides workers with validation and belonging that have led to behavioral and physical improvements in their lives. Blue Star Recyclers is an e-Stewards, R2, and ISO 14001 certified recycler. For more information about Blue Star Recyclers, visit http://www.bluestarrecyclers.com.
Photo courtesy of Andy O'Riley, Blue Star Recyclers