Offering second chances

Columns - Editor’s Letter

Find inspiration in stories of recyclers contributing to the social good.

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May 31, 2019

Receiving a second chance can be a transformative experience, but so can giving one. Just ask Kabira Stokes, the founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Homeboy Electronics Recycling, which is featured in this month’s cover story, “Giving opportunity.”

Stokes wanted to stop the formerly incarcerated from relapsing into criminal behavior, a cycle she recognized was related in part to the lack of job opportunities available to them upon their release. She was inspired by the work of Indianapolis-based electronics recycler RecycleForce, which has been serving this mission since 2006. Stokes launched Homeboy Electronics Recycling, originally named Isidore Electronics Recycling, in 2011. She says the company has helped numerous formerly incarcerated people get back on their feet.

The company is not alone in its mission, however, and has helped to form Impact Recyclers, a group of social enterprise, certified electronics recyclers with the shared mission of employing people facing barriers to work. Members of Impact Recyclers are licensed, insured and R2 (Responsible Recycling Practices) or e-Stewards certified. The network includes Homeboy Electronics, Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Comprenew and Tech Dump, which has operations in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

Comprenew says its mission is “to protect businesses, people and the environment from the threat of improperly disposed electronic devices through best practice technology data management, asset recovery and recycling services while fostering job readiness and computer literacy among at-risk populations in our community.”

“Companies outside of the electronics recycling space also are giving opportunities to the formerly incarcerated.”

Tech Dump is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides job training and practical experience for adults who face barriers to employment.

Companies outside of the electronics recycling space also are giving opportunities to the formerly incarcerated. Michelle Coffino, president and CEO of Queen City Metal Recycling & Salvage LLC, Charlotte, North Carolina, works with halfway houses in her community to give employment opportunities to men and women who are coming out of incarceration through the company’s Second Chance employment program.

In addition to serving the formerly incarcerated, Queen City Metal has given summer scholarships to underprivileged children and donations to charities with funds raised through Queen City’s Recycling Metal to Recycle Lives event. Queen City Metal also has donated bicycles to a local man who refurbishes them and presents them to underprivileged children at local schools.

Recyclers such as these contribute to the social good in many ways. I hope you can find inspiration in their endeavors.