16 Million Pounds Recycled by Colorado's Top Nonprofit
Nonprofit Top Company winner in 2018's is Blue Star Recyclers
From recycling to micro-finance and setting standards for transparency in business, the collection of nonprofit organizations are making a positive difference in the Colorado community, hence their acknowledgement as 2018's Top Companies in the nonprofit category.
When Bill Morris met four autistic young men a decade ago, he discovered that they had a knack for taking apart electronics. That prompted him to start Blue Star Recyclers to give them jobs and preserve the environment. Today, Blue Star employs more than 40 people with autism and other disabilities. It has recycled 16 million pounds of electronics that have been put back into the manufacturing stream.
“Economically, we’ve generated $10 million in social return on investment — $8 million in earned income back into Colorado and $2 million in taxpayer savings,” Morris says. “I just wanted to put four guys to work who I knew shouldn’t be sitting in a day program. I just knew they had an affinity for the work.”
Over the last nine years, Blue Star Recyclers, which has locations in Colorado Springs, Denver and Boulder, has held more than 200 community recycling events across Colorado. It is an e-Steward-certified, nonprofit social enterprise with a mission of ethically recycling electronics to create jobs for people with autism and other disabilities.
Blue Star has grown about 30 percent every year since Morris founded the organization nine years ago.
Between 2010 and 2016, Blue Star had zero absenteeism, zero turnover and zero accidents, Morris says.
“They are the most incredible workforce I’ve ever seen,” he says. “The job is just so important to them. People with autism love tasks that are repeated all day. We’re not hiring them out of any sympathy, we’re hiring them because they’re better at it than you or I would be.”
SERVING GREATER DENVER + CENTRAL COLORADO
For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has helped people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust by accrediting business that meet its standards for honest advertising, transparency and integrity. Since May 2017, BBB Serving Greater Denver and Central Colorado has accredited 1,465 businesses and maintained an overall retention rate of 88 percent. BBB also offers a robust investigations program propelled by its Scam Tracker tool, which lets consumers report suspected scams and see scams that are trending in the area. Over the last year, BBB has received 1,189 Scam Tracker reports and opened and closed 55 investigations into suspicious businesses. The organization also offers alternative dispute resolution services enabling consumers and businesses to come to an amicable agreement and avoid expensive litigation.
The Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) takes a holistic approach to helping entrepreneurs build their businesses. The organization’s programming is designed to address the “life” influences of business ownership and build an entrepreneur’s foundation of personal stability to weather those challenges. Through its “Idea, Launch, Thrive” programming entrepreneurs are empowered with comprehensive business and financial education with meaningful mentorship and coaching. Since it was founded in 2008, RMMFI has served more than 3,000 people and distributed more than $445,000 over 183 loans to low-income entrepreneurs with a 95 percent repayment rate. RMMFI is working on replicating its programs beyond Denver to expand business ownership pathways to underserved entrepreneurs across the state and the country.