Careit Brings New Food Rescue App to Denver to Combat Hunger With Surplus Food Donations

Careit, a Los Angeles-based free food donation and rescue app that connects businesses to nonprofits to combat hunger, is officially available in Denver. The app provides a free online marketplace that makes it easy for Denver restaurants, caterers, food distributors, corporations, grocery stores and more to donate surplus food and goods directly to local nonprofits in the area. Available nonprofits claim the food, arrange for transport and track the donation’s details and weight, all from within the Careit app. 

Denver Food Waste and Careit’s Solution to Help

On a local level, more than four pounds of food per person on average is wasted at home every week in Denver, and 76 percent of that could have been eaten. A Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study revealed up to 7.1 million additional meals annually could be donated in Denver beyond current donations. With Careit’s food rescue app, more than 180,000 pounds of surplus food has been donated in Denver to date.

READ: Rising Food Costs Create Unique Challenges for Hunger-Focused Agencies

Currently, 95 businesses and nonprofits are using Careit in Colorado, most centralized in the Denver metropolitan area. Among the first to join Careit in the Denver area include We Don’t Waste, Sprouts, Denver Food RescueAutoDeskSupperBell, Rebel Bread, Sullivan Scrap Kitchen many more.

“Launching Careit in Denver has been amazing because the city has a strong reputation and commitment to reducing waste and helping those in need in their community,” Alyson Schill, Careit CEO, said. “We invite more businesses, restaurants, nonprofits, grocery stores and more to join us as we continue to serve an expanding population of seniors, families and students experiencing hunger.

“Careit has been an integral addition to our food recovery program,” Sam Talarczyk, We Don’t Waste Director of Programs & Operations, said. “The technology has allowed us to expand our partnerships with local businesses, engage with more volunteers, and, most importantly, rescue more food.”

How to Share it with Careit

Careit uses smart algorithms and Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to empower local nonprofits and communities with equal access to the surplus of resources. The Careit app can be downloaded on all iOS and Android devices. The process to start donating surplus food is simple:

  1. Post a Donation: Businesses, nonprofits, and institutions can post surplus edible food and essential goods for pick up or drop off.
  2. Match to a Nonprofit: Local hunger-relief agencies browse (and reserve) posted donations. Donors can also directly assign a post to their preferred charity.
  3. Arrange Transportation: Nonprofits assign their own trained staff or volunteers to schedule a pickup or drop off with the donor.
  4. Manage Data: Careit provides businesses, nonprofits and governments a robust platform for data and impact tracking – used for taxes, fundraising and quality control.

The Careit Difference

Unlike other food donation technology, Careit is not proprietary for any nonprofit and does not require donors to sign exclusivity contracts. The app is free to use for all U.S.-based food donors, corporations, municipalities and nonprofits to give and receive food. App users are only charged subscription fees to access advanced features such as data reporting to help with tax deductions and record-keeping for food rescues and donations.

Careit enables corporations to track their food donation efforts for new food waste policy compliance, committed environmental social good (ESG) campaign efforts and tax-deductible charitable contribution tracking. Businesses save time and staff costs of record-keeping for donations with Careit’s revolutionary platform for data and impact tracking. 

Careit knows how important it is to train individual behavior and create social change. That’s why the company offers in-person and virtual workshops to train new users on how to safely donate food and use its app.

 

Founded in 2021, Careit is a free app to match commercial food donors to the country’s most inclusive network of nonprofits. Businesses sign up to simplify food donations, track their impact and track tax-deductible contributions. Careit has assisted more than 1,600 edible food donors to connect with over 770 local nonprofit food recovery organizations and service providers through its platform. Eight million pounds of food from 25,000 donations have been recorded on Careit. To learn more, visit careit.com.

Donations That Matter — What Cause Will You Support During ‘Colorado Gives Day?’

With the holiday season in full swing, the spirit of giving is upon us! Your kids may be begging for the newest iPhone, and your relatives may want the coolest Peleton bike on the market, but let’s not forget what really matters — supporting the betterment of our Colorado community. That’s where Colorado Gives Day, Colorado’s largest 24-hour giving event, comes in.

If you haven’t heard of the massive donation event, let us give you the run down. Colorado Gives Day, run by ColoradoGives.org, has been a massive initiative since 2010. Here’s how it works: on the first Tuesday of December since 2010, Coloradans come together to support nonprofits that strive to make Colorado, and the world at large, a better place. The initiative has collectively raised more than $362 million dollar for Colorado non-profits since its inaugural day of giving almost 12 years ago.

Better still, Community First Foundation, FirstBank and other Colorado community partners want to ensure your donations go even further. That’s why every donation made from November 1 through December 6 on ColoradoGives.org gets a boost from the $1.4 Million+ Incentive Fund.

Find a list of causes, non-profits and organizations to donate to through December 6th at ColoradoGives.org.

Project Greer Street: Guiding Young Black Scholars 

Ron Sally’s high school experiences were pivotal to his future success, and he wants today’s African American male students to have a similar opportunity. The longtime Denver business executive is the founder of Project Greer Street, a nonprofit aimed at helping African American male students fulfill their potential academically and gain admission to elite colleges and universities.  

“One of the reasons that I started Project Greer Street was my belief that high school was the last formative stage in one’s life that can have a significant impact on your life trajectory,” he says. “High school is a fork in the road.”  

Sally grew up on Greer Street in North St. Louis, an area that he describes as different from how most people picture St. Louis. “It hasn’t changed, which is part of the problem,” he says. “It’s always been a stereotypical inner city terrible neighborhood.”  

What changed Sally’s path was that he attended an excellent college preparatory school located 40 minutes away from his home. “It wasn’t 100 percent positive,” he says. “But it gave me some building blocks.” 

Project Greer Street Wes Ogsbury Sports Center Interview Photo 1
Project Greer Street and Harvard alumnus Wesley Ogsbury on ESPN’s Sportscenter.

Sally went on to Duke University, where he played quarterback and captained the football team while earning a bachelor of arts degree and making the Dean’s List. After a year of pro football with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League, Sally returned to the classroom, earning his law degree from UCLA’s School of Law. Over the course of his career, he’s worked as an attorney and business executive in the sports, entertainment, and venue development industries. 

Project Greer Street is an academic enrichment program open to African American male students at Denver East High School. Each cohort has 10 to 20 students who meet approximately once every two weeks to listen to Sally or to guest speakers talk on topics such as leadership, self-esteem, ambition and work ethic. The sessions also cover college preparation, written and oral communications, and employment and internships.  

The students are selected from a list, provided by East High School, of ninth-grade students who show academic promise. “We are not a correction program,” Sally says. “It’s not parents saying, ‘Can you fix him?’” Many of the students have high test scores and low grades and have the potential to excel with motivation and the right environment. Project Greer Street provides a safe place for these students to be academic superstars, Sally says, and the environment encourages competition. Students end up wanting to have the highest GPA, to be accepted to a summer program, or to land an internship. Some are striving for an academic scholarship to an elite university.  

Those goals are different from students’ often misguided ambitions. Many students think the only way they will be able to attend college is with an athletic scholarship, Sally says, and that points to several misconceptions. Students don’t realize that athletic scholarships represent only one-year agreements, and the student can lose the scholarship due to injury or poor performance. Academic scholarships that are based on financial need and academic merit are a better option.  

That’s an important distinction for students who overestimate their own athletic skills. “I get people who think they are the second coming of [NBA player] Kevin Durant, particularly if they are halfway decent as a 13-year-old,” Sally says. “This has been exacerbated by media attention to the financial aspect of sports.”  

The same goes for youth who hope to become the next superstar rapper, so Sally tries to show students there are other careers. His own executive positions have included president and chief operating officer of the arena football team Colorado Crush, senior vice president of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, general counsel for the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and Pepsi Center, and assistant general counsel and director of business affairs for the Denver Nuggets.  

He and the Project Greer Street guest speakers help students reevaluate how they view success. Instead of striving for the extreme unlikelihood of being the next sports or entertainment superstar, students learn they can have careers in vital but less visible roles in these and other fields. Guest speakers have included Mayor Michael Hancock, attorney C.J. Chapman, culinary historian Adrian Miller, Nike executive Ramsey Watkins, and others.  

Ray Pryor, who graduated from East High School in 2015, says Project Greer Street expanded his horizons and also taught him specific tasks he needed to address to succeed. “I had good grades,” he says. “I had no idea what it took to go to college.”  

The after-school sessions included exercises such as drafting a resume, writing an email to someone they hoped to network with, or researching a successful person with a compelling story. Sessions also covered preparing for the SATs and completing college applications.  

Pryor went on to graduate from Duke University in 2019. “It meant a lot to me to graduate in four years,” he says. “Mr. Sally kept in touch with me to make sure I was on track to do that.” Today, he works for an educational nonprofit that, similar to Project Greer Street, helps high school students through the college prep process.  

Ron Sally and his wife, Yvette Sally, started Project Greer Street in 2009. Yvette Sally, also a graduate of Duke University, is chief visionary officer for Project Greer Street. In 2014 the Sallys were awarded the Beyond Duke Service and Leadership Award. Locally, the program won an Everyday Hero Award from the ABC affiliate Denver7.  

“We expand what’s possible,” Sally says. “When we talk about the definition of success, it’s not so narrowly focused.”   

How to approach fundraising for the year ahead

Shutterstock 1967294950

The past year has been challenging. During a time of so much uncertainty and competing priorities, nonprofits have struggled with how to fundraise effectively while maintaining their vital work.

The good news is many nonprofits have learned to adapt, pivoting from traditional fundraising events and initiatives to digital and virtual formats, creatively allowing donors to continue to engage.

And in light of the extreme economic hardships many are facing, we have also seen donors step up.

According to recent research from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, more donors plan to give this year than ever before. Total charitable giving is predicted to increase by 5.1% in 2021.

As this year gets underway, here are some tips on how to approach fundraising in this new economic environment and global pandemic.

Be flexible and adapt as circumstances change

Nonprofits that fared the best in 2020 were able to quickly adapt and evolve, staying nimble as plans were ever-changing. This past year presented many challenges, so flexibility was crucial.

Use this opportunity to review how you are operating as an organization, how your plan is working, and if not, what needs to change.

Listen to your donors to find out what they are thinking, how the pandemic has affected them, and work to build an authentic relationship.

Add a personal touch to communication

Personalized communication and outreach are critical in 2021. This will set your organization apart. We are seeing more outreach turn digital, which makes personalization even more important as messages flood email inboxes.

By making a personal connection, you can show why and how your donors’ gifts matter and the impact their contributions will have on your organization. Without this personal touch, donors are more likely to walk away and find another cause.

In your outreach strategy, make sure to use the donor’s preferred name and know their donation history, events attended, and past campaigns they supported so you can target specific messaging.

Focus on donor cultivation and empower your supporters to help by laying out a strong case for charitable giving, and then follow up with a thank you message and outcomes.

Get creative with virtual events

Virtual events are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. We’ve seen organizations find success in hosting virtual dinners by sending out a meal kit to donors, virtual events with a surprise celebrity guest appearance, and online interactive raffles and auctions.

Before you organize an event, consider increasing communication to the community and your donors to gage interest. It’s important that the event aligns with your charitable mission and that you have the resources you need to make the event successful.

Know your donor base

Many donors budget for charitable giving. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your donor base and ask if a gift is still viable. Look to your area of expertise and brainstorm ways you can better serve your population or best engage your supports.

The better you know who your donors are, the better you can reach out and get them to invest during these uncertain times.

While 2020 was a whirlwind, it’s important that agencies and nonprofits look back to recognize what worked, what didn’t and continue to adapt.

Take the lessons learned from this last year and apply them to fundraising efforts this year and beyond.

While we hope to return to a more normal environment soon, now is the time to continue to flex your creativity and deepen those relationships for both short-term and long-term success.

Brande Anderson is the Institutional Investment Management Relationship Manager at UMB Bank.

Alicia Beck is the Vice President and Director of Philanthropy at UMB Bank.

What can nonprofits expect in 2021?

BKD CPAs & Advisors recently released its 2021 State of the Nonprofit Sector Report. The nonprofit wellness study was created to identify how nonprofit organizations are responding and surviving amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. The findings show that a majority of nonprofits have increased their services, yet reduced staffing. The study highlights how many nonprofits are coping under added pressure, both financially and operationally. “The goal of this study is to highlight how organizations are adapting to the pandemic and what effect it’s having on their ability to provide programs and services. Its essential funders, elected officials and community leaders understand the current condition of nonprofit organizations as they consider the scale of necessary intervention,” said Senior Managing Consultant Dan Prater. The survey comprised 18 questions or scenarios, including general questions about organization location, size, area of focus and questions about the COVID-19 crisis. BKD received responses from 319 organizations between September 23 and October 23, 2020. “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofits across the country have helped to propel our communities forward and respond to increasing demands. It’s our desire this report would offer leaders insights to help stabilize their organizations and continue meeting the needs of those they serve,” said National Industry Partner Tondeé Lutterman. BKD CPAs & Advisors can help nonprofits with accounting and auditing needs. Their team offers many service offerings in nonprofit consulting, strategic planning and much more. Visit BKD’s website to learn more about BKD’s nonprofit services. Download a free copy of the study, which can help nonprofits plan for what’s ahead in 2021.

Top Company 2020: Nonprofit

Shutterstock 497115133

In its 33rd year, ColoradoBiz‘s Top Company honors the Colorado companies that have drive, determination, a vision and a plan and are ultimately making the state a better place to live and work. These three companies – one winner and two finalists –represent the 2020 Top Companies in Nonprofit. 

Winner

Focus Points Family Resource Center

Denver

Focus Points Family Resource Center is celebrating its 25th year empowering families through programs including early childhood education, economic opportunity, adult education and community development.

“Our commitment to meeting the evolving needs of our community has manifested in a two-generation approach, which means we are working with guardians and children simultaneously, providing each with relevant programming to enrich their lives,” Executive Director Jules Kelty says. “Our goal is to foster self-sufficiency and economic stability. Research indicates that if a child witnesses a parent successfully completing an education program, they are much more likely to pursue secondary education.”

Its Comal Heritage Food Incubator, a lunch restaurant and training program, provides skills in culinary arts and business to immigrants and refugees from countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia. Participants honor their culinary traditions while learning about entrepreneurship and professional food services. The successful social enterprise has paid $650,000 into the community directly through earn-while-you-learn stipends, with a local economic impact of $2.5 million.

Focus Points offers award-winning PAT (Parents As Teachers) and HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) early education, as well as high-quality, curriculum-based child care to more than 200 children while parents participate in Focus Points programs. Adult education includes six levels of low-cost English Language Acquisition as well as GED support.

Focus Points recently launched Huerta — orchard, in Spanish — as a food-centered community space with greenhouses, retail and a commercial kitchen for classes. Huerta’s training program participants will earn wages as they learn and work toward such entrepreneurial endeavors as a florist shop or urban farming-centered business.

Finalists

Aspen Academy

Greenwood Village 

Over the past 15 years, Aspen Academy has become one of the fastest-growing independent schools in the nation.

Its Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute is a year-long program focused on personal financial literacy, business financial literacy and entrepreneurship for students pre-K through eighth-grade. The program establishes financial management habits and skills; develops an entrepreneurial mindset, vision and practice; and creates mastery of understanding for students and faculty. The Aspen Youth Leadership Institute is a comprehensive and sequenced leadership curriculum program designed to help re-establish a culture of effective personal and community leadership.

Bear’s Student Enterprises allows seventh- and eighth-grade students to operate a campus store, café and broadcast network that produces bi-weekly newscasts, infomercials and news magazine segments.

Aspen Academy supports more than 25 local, state, national and international organizations through a robust and integrated service learning program. Since 2008, the school’s 78,000-square-foot building has been renovated and expanded, adding 14 outdoor labs and classrooms and 10 teaching gardens.

YouthRoots

Englewood 

YouthRoots guides high school students through a three-step philanthropic process, helping to build leadership skills and support charitable giving. One YouthBoard started in Denver a decade ago has grown to 11 in two states, serving 547 high school students who have raised more than $246,000 for 81 nonprofits, serving thousands of at-risk youth.

Participants build key non-cognitive skills including confidence, critical thinking, self-awareness and teamwork. Additionally, participants leave the program with awareness of community needs, business and fundraising skills, financial literacy and knowledge of how to invest in their strengths and passions.

YouthRoots partners with community foundations and schools to reach as many high school students as possible.

How a Boulder nonprofit served throughout the pandemic

No business was safe from repercussions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, but what about those who had no choice but to stay open? While some businesses were able to shift business models and have their employees work from home, nonprofit organizations, in particular, had to adapt quickly and creatively  in order to continue serving the communities whose livelihood relies on their programs and services.

“At the end of the day, we’re all in this fight together,” says Chris Nelson, CEO of Attention Homes. If you have no other option but to remain open, be sure you’re doing whatever it takes to ensure the safety of your customers and your staff.”

Attention Homes is a nonprofit organization based in Boulder that serves young people ages 12 to 24 who are facing homelessness. The organization was founded in 1966 and has grown to serve over 12,000 individuals, helping them become healthy, productive members of the community.

Among their programs are the Residential Care Program, which provides 10 bed for youth, ages 12 to 17, who are placed through social services due to family disruption and other crises; an Emergency Shelter and Drop-In Center, which provides services around education, employment, family reunification, physical and mental health, and overall well-being; the Transitional Living Program, which provides youth with subsidies to find housing; and Attention Homes Apartments, a 40-unit, apartment project with on-site services for young adults, ages 18 to 24.

However, as coronavirus hit Colorado, Attention Homes had to rethink these services, many of which rely on in-person interactions and contact. ColoradoBiz talked to Nelson to hear how Attention Homes was adapting and get advice for other nonprofits and businesses.

ColoradoBiz: How and when did coronavirus start to impact your business? What was your initial response?

Chris Nelson: Along with the rest of the world, we have been carefully evaluating the ever-changing COVID-19 situation and remain in rapid-response mode to make adjustments to our organization as needed. Due to school closures and families in lockdown, our country is seeing a rise in domestic violence and child abuse calls, and it is only expected to get worse. When in mid-March the coronavirus crisis became apparent, we began immediate efforts to mitigate its impact on the work that we do and the young people we serve.

It remains crucial — and life-saving — to have Attention Homes up and running 24/7 throughout this pandemic. First, we implemented the recommended cleaning and hygiene practices in our programs in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel virus. Then, we halted our Street Outreach Program to prevent our volunteers and staff from having unnecessary contact with individuals and prepared isolation spaces in each of our programs in case COVID-19 enters our facilities. We have lowered our census in both our Residential Care Program and Emergency Shelter to minimize the amount of individuals in our programs, and have temporarily closed our daytime Drop-In Center. We’ve also stopped all on-site volunteering for the foreseeable future and remain to operate a team of staff in our programs.

Throughout the situation, we’ve hosted biweekly organizational updates for the public to keep our community informed, and we remained in communication with schools to provide support while young people are still at home to prevent displacement and/or abuse. And as difficult as it was to make this decision, we rescheduled our annual spring gala for a later date.

CB: As the situation has progressed, what services/solutions have you modified/come up with?

CN: At Attention Homes the safety of our program participants, staff, board members, volunteers, and community are always our No. 1 priority. To aid our efforts, we created a financial modeling plan to responsibly spend our funds and ensure the sustainability of Attention Homes programming. Plus, we developed a continuity of operations plan to ensure our programs can remain running safely and effectively with our program participants’ best interest as our primary concern, which was shared county-wide as a best practice example.

Because many of the young people at Attention Homes are employees of establishments that were forced to shut down, they are suffering through unforeseen adversity. Consequently, we are working to ensure that nobody in need faces food insecurity or loss of housing due to the pandemic. This involves requesting donations and additional support from our community to ensure these young people not only have access to food, can keep their housing and remain safe and healthy, but also, to ensure Attention Homes staff has the resources they need to continue doing important work as they walk alongside young people experiencing this adversity.

We continue to support youth in school as remote learning becomes the new normal. Plus, we are providing virtual case management to ensure young people are staying on track with their goals, and we are checking in with each program participant regularly to offer mental health support. We are also looking at opportunities to support families to prevent displacement. Most importantly, we are remaining open for those young people who need a safe place to be with the support they deserve.

Additionally, we’ve made temporary adjustments to our PTO/sick leave to ensure that no staff member who is asked to stay home will face undue financial hardship. We’re readdressing our consistent systems in place for keeping our spaces disinfected and postponing large group trainings and meetings. And as always, we continue to remind program participants the importance of healthy hygiene practices. Finally, we started a resource hotline for individuals to navigate available resources during this crisis.

CB: What advice would you give to other businesses who have no option but to stay open during COVID-19?

CN: At the end of the day, we’re all in this fight together. If you have no other option but to remain open, be sure you’re doing whatever it takes to ensure the safety of your customers and your staff.

Whether that means altering your operating hours, utilizing a contactless strategy for to-go and delivery orders, offering products or services online, offering reduced or free shipping to encourage online orders or getting creative, do it. Adhering to safety regulations while finding ways to adapt to the reality of social distancing will help your employees and customers get through these tough times — and help your business come out stronger on the other side.

CB: As the state begins to enter a period “safer-at-home,” what advice and warnings would you give to businesses as they start to re-open?

CN: More or less the same as before, but I would add to not rush to reopen before you and your staff are comfortable doing so. Times are already stressful enough, you don’t want to increase the pressure your employees are undoubtedly feeling by forcing them into a difficult situation where they’re worried about their health and overall well-being.

Follow the recommended health and safety guidelines, wear masks and make sure employees and customers are keeping a safe distance from each other. If you don’t have to reopen at full capacity, don’t risk it. Exercise caution and take personal responsibility. We are talking about life and death, so take your choice to reopen seriously.