Social Enterprises With Positive Environmental Impact

For this Earth Week, we wanted to focus on shining light on some of our favorite social enterprises that are providing job training and combating current environmental issues.

 Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) has served Marin and Sonoma Counties in California since 1982. The job training programs offer youth opportunity to enhance their academic and hands-on vocational skills while they perform environmental work. The work includes restoring habitats, clearing fire breaks, preventing floods, and maintaining trails. According to their website, more than 12,000 young men and women break the cycle of poverty through education and job skills while serving the environment and the community. And the environmental impact is impressive-every year Corps collects in excess of 80 tons of bottles, cans and recyclable material and in 2017 Corps maintained 96 miles of trails!

People conducting forest preservation through a job training program

photo credit: CCNB

Recycle Force offers some of the most comprehensive and innovative recycling services while providing life-changing workforce training to formerly incarcerated individuals. The organization focuses on recycling e-waste that requires special means of safe disposal. Since 2006, RecycleForce has recycled more than 65 million pounds of electronic waste and employed nearly 1200 men and women.

Members of a job training program recycling electronics

Photo credit: Recycle Force


Planting Justice is on a mission to empower people impacted by mass incarceration and other social inequalities by transforming the food system, creating thousands of green jobs paying a living wage, and championing for equal access to environmental goods and healthy foods. The team has built over 400 edible gardens in the East Bay area of California and has resulted in the ability of hundreds of people growing their own food. Planting Justice also boasts a 0% recidivism rate for their holistic re-entry program and offers farmer training on their 5 acres to equip the next generation of farmers to create socially-just, ecologically sustainable, and economically profitable farms.

garden plots with plants and soil

photo credit: Planting Justice


Sweet Beginnings, located very close to our Bright Endeavors facility in Chicago, offers full-time transitional jobs to citizens returning from incarceration in a green industry. The company manages apiaries (bee farms) throughout the Chicagoland area. From the harvested honey, Sweet beginnings also produce an all natural skin care line under the name Bee Love. Since 2009, the organizations have employed more than 400 men and women and has seen a recidivism rate for former employees below 8% compared to the national Illinois average of 55%.

beekeeping operation collecting honey

photo credit: Bee Love


Rebuilding Exchange is on a mission to create a market for reclaimed building materials by delivering materials from landfills to their easily accessible warehouse. Located in Chicago, Rebuilding Exchange also offers workforce opportunities to people with barriers to employment in the fields of deconstruction, materials management, retail warehousing, and carpentry. Since 2008, the organization has diverted roughly 10,000 tons of material from landfills and provided job training to over 80 individuals. You can even sign up for a woodworking class!

Reclaimed building materials and a constructed wood cabinet

photo credit: Rebuilding Exchange

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