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Ecology Center

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Causes: Agricultural Programs, Environment, Food, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Recycling

Mission: Our mission is to inspire and build a sustainable, healthy, and just future for the East Bay, California, and beyond. We transform the ideals of environmental sustainability into everyday practice. We deliver information you can act on, infrastructure you can count on, and leadership for lasting change.

Results: In 1973, the Ecology Center launched the very first curbside recycling program in the U.S. Today, our recycling program is still going strong and serves as a model for cities across the nation. Since 1987, we have contributed to the vibrancy of the local food movement by introducing and managing three popular Farmers' Markets. We advocated for the ability to accept EBT (electronic "food stamps") among Farmers' Market vendors, and now run a statewide program, Market Match, that doubles value of food assistance benefits at Farmers' Markets across the state! The Ecology Center led successful local efforts to ban Styrofoam and plastic bags, and was key to making Berkeley the first city in the nation to pass a "Soda Tax" with revenue supporting school- and community- based cooking and gardening programs. We are also very proud of our robust youth programming which includes a free, after-school and summer Youth Environmental Academy for 14-24 year olds.

Target demographics: Founded in 1969, the Ecology Center is a nonprofit organization located in Berkeley, California that focuses on the environmental impacts of urban residents. We address issues through educating, creating community momentum, building infrastructure to make change easy, and disseminating positive solutions and best practices through convening and advocacy. Our core issues include waste and consumerism, food and farming, climate change prevention and resiliency, and sustainable living. The Ecology Center envisions a world where human activity nurtures the ecosystems that we all depend on — a world of green cities; empowered, resilient communities; zero waste and zero toxics; equal access to healthy food; sustainable resource use; and a safe and stable climate.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Every year, we divert more than 7,750 tons of glass, paper, plastic, and metal from landfill, serve 120,000 residents at our weekly Farmers' Markets, disseminate our EcoDirectory resources to more than 35,000 Bay Area residents, and train 40 low-income teens through our Youth Environmental Academy! We also work with 230 partners across the state to offer “Market Match” incentives to Farmers’ Market shoppers using food assistance benefits and drive $7.8 billion to local farmers.

Geographic areas served: Berkeley, the East Bay, and throughout California

Programs: Our services include farmers’ markets, produce stands, residential curbside recycling, classes and workshops, youth development, a hotline and help desk, a library, a store for sustainable living, and a demonstration house and garden (Eco House). We convene the California Alliance of Farmers' Markets, the Berkeley Food Policy Council, and the Berkeley Climate Action Coalition. We also serve as the fiscal sponsor for a wide range of projects that align with our mission.

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