Eureka Recycling has a very simple yet very powerful mission: to demonstrate that waste is preventable, not inevitable. Eureka has designed programs that help individuals, organizations, and communities achieve zero-waste goals, providing real-world solutions to the social, environmental, and health problems caused by waste.
Eureka has been around for about 15 years, and Alex Danovitch, Director of Special Projects for Eureka, said it is the only organization in Minnesota that focuses on zero waste. Eureka has been providing recycling collection and processing in St. Paul since it started in 2001, and just recently was awarded the Minneapolis processing contract that will begin in November. “We would not have been able to win the Minneapolis contract without Propel Nonprofits (formerly Nonprofits Assistance Fund) help to convert our facility to single stream,” Alex said.
Propel Nonprofits had been a thought partner for Eureka since it started. Eureka originally was part of another nonprofit, and did not have the expertise to raise the amount of finances needed to become an independent nonprofit. Alex said they turned to Propel Nonprofits for assistance.
“Propel Nonprofits understands a mission-driven nonprofit, and financing and lending,” Alex said. “In 2001, there was not the same understanding about social enterprise that there is today, but Propel Nonprofits understood that we see our work as a zero-waste laboratory and not a side-product of our operations.”
“Eureka is the best of social enterprise, “said Kate Barr, Propel Nonprofits President & CEO, “which is one whose social enterprise directly supports its mission.”
Propel Nonprofits helped Eureka frame the language of what it wanted to do, and helped it understand its funding opportunities. Propel Nonprofits provided advice and support, and Eureka was able to operate for about 10 years with the operations it initially set up. Then as recycling evolved, in order to stay competitive and relevant to the community, Eureka needed to update and upgrade its technology.
While Eureka had continued to use Propel Nonprofits as an ongoing resource for conversations and information (including Propel Nonprofits’ online resources), Eureka then turned to Propel Nonprofits for help with for financing new technology – a single-sort recycling system, where all the recycling can go into one container for pickup rather than needing to be sorted by the residents in the communities.
“Unfortunately, so often organizations think they should only consider a loan if they are having financial difficulties,” Kate said. “What is great about Eureka is we have been partners for 15 years, and when they needed help to update their current system to take advantage of some opportunities, they thought of Propel Nonprofits.”
“Propel Nonprofits provided much more than funding,” Alex said. “They are open to creative ideas, are flexible, and can make it work. While Propel Nonprofits was a small piece of the total funding, they were critical to the success. Propel Nonprofits is savvy about what is in the best interest of Eureka. Propel Nonprofits is candid and honest with us, really approachable and trustworthy. We also are able to be candid with them.
“Our industry is fairly capital intensive,” Alex said, “and there is a lot a technology. As we update our systems, Propel Nonprofits will continue to be a resource for us as needs arise.”
Alex definitely would recommend other nonprofits take advantage of the services and resources Propel Nonprofits has to offer. “Propel Nonprofits is on your side, and while an extremely valuable source of finance, what they offer is much more than cash. We look at our relationship with Propel Nonprofitsas a partnership that helped empower us to fulfill our mission. Propel Nonprofits approaches finance as a way to fulfill your mission and not how finance (or the lack of it) restricts your mission.”
Propel Nonprofits is honored to partner with Eureka Recycling on their goal of zero waste, and the Propel Nonprofits team looks forward to continuing to collaborate with Eureka on future projects. To learn more about Eureka Recycling, visit them online.