St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, Oregon, offers an innovative approach to social welfare. By turning trash into revenue-producing businesses that fuel half of the nonprofit’s $24 million annual budget, St. Vincent de Paul provides needed services to more than 84,000 people each year.
Its “triple bottom line” model involves the following:
- Serving those who are unemployed, homeless, disabled, or struggling with substance abuse, and who often present complex physical and mental health problems.
- Reclaiming materials such as mattresses, appliances and books from the waste stream and recycling them for reuse or sale. Processing 175,000 mattresses annually, St. Vincent de Paul is the nation’s largest mattress recycler.
- Providing training, jobs, and health security to the hardest to employ—ex-offenders, the chronically homeless, and other at-risk populations.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding replication of St. Vincent de Paul’s hybrid business-social welfare model in other regions.