Page 36 - BusinessWest May 13, 2024
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   “As a society,
we noted over time that you can ignore problems, but that only costs more money down the line.”
intact, but the work has expanded into commercial waste, decar- bonization, and recycled building materials.
“We’re still doing energy conservation and energy efficiency. In some ways, we’ve remained true to our origins,” said Ashley Mus- pratt, the nonprofit’s president and CEO. “But we’ve modernized some of the language and approaches to evolve with the times — for example, shifting the conversation to electrification, which is no lon- ger about just saving energy, but shifting away from fossil fuels to electricity and renewable sources of electricity.”
CET got involved in waste reduction in the 1980s, and that remains a core area of its work today. In addition, it’s more focused now on the question of environmental justice, aiming to ensure that no communities or customer segments are left behind or harmed by the transition to a lower-carbon or no-carbon economy.
“We offer our services in dozens of languages and have made an effort to recruit multilingual staff. We also work with a translation company, so we can provide real-time interpretation on the phone or in the field,” Muspratt added. “We want to make sure we have a staff that reflects and looks like and understands the different com- munities that we’re trying to serve.”
That hits home for Burke, who noted that the Community Foun- dation adopted a new strategy a few years ago around diversity and increasing opportunity and equity in the community. To her, that means nonprofits should have staff members that share the lived experiences of clients — not just ethnic background, but, to cite one example, serving people in Franklin County who are living with lim- ited means trying to address all the challenges rural families have.
“Having people on their staff and on their board who may have lived those experiences allows them to develop programs to be more successful,” she noted. “We’ve stressed the importance of organizations really thinking about what perspectives they need on their staff and board.
“And it’s not just so they can feel good or have a great photo that shows diversity; it’s to be more successful in delivering the services they were founded to
provide,” Burke went on.
Continued from page 34
they might also face other barriers to employment, from unreliable transportation to unaddressed health issues, and nonprofits can refer clients to each other to address multiple needs at once.
“A healthy nonprofit ecosystem, made up of nonprofits of all dif- ferent sizes, is the best way to meet folks’ needs. No single nonprof- it can do everything; there are so many different needs,” she told BusinessWest. “So coordination and collaboration with each other is really important.”
DiStefano used the example of connecting a parent of a child at Square One with Way Finders if they’re in need of housing support.
“We serve 1,200 families a year. Most are working one or two jobs, working eight to 12 hours a day, maybe even riding the bus, going to appointments,” she said. “I’m not in the housing business, but I’m not going to say to families, ‘I can’t talk to you about hous- ing.’ That’s a big part of our evolution.
“Society 140 years ago was harsher in its opinion that your fam- ily was your business; it really wasn’t the business of social-service agencies or the government to help your family. But as a society, we noted over time that you can ignore problems, but that only costs more money down the line,” DiStefano went on. “The more you can invest in the child, especially between age zero and three, when the brain is doing the most developing, the better off they’ll be. Why
not sink every resource we have into making sure the child has the healthiest opportunities in those years?”
The Center for EcoTechnology, which predates BusinessWest by eight years, has certainly been a connector of resources, in its case programs focused on energy efficiency, sustainability, and the environment.
In the years leading up to CET’s founding in 1976, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the establishment of Earth Day saw Americans more focused on environmental con- cerns, and CET began its work largely in the realm of energy effi- ciency and home-energy audits. Today, the initial vision is largely
“Nonprofits recognize
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