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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

WAGES (Women's Action to Gain Economic Security)

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: WAGES’ mission is to build worker-owned green businesses that create healthy, dignified jobs for low-income women. In our cooperatives, women gain good jobs, develop new skills, become leaders in their communities, and increase their economic security.

Results: Over the past decade, WAGES has built four successful green housecleaning cooperatives serving the Bay Area that have given hundreds of women the opportunity to become financially secure, gain business skills, and lead healthier, fuller lives. Overall, co-op members earn 50-100% more than they would make working for a conventional cleaning company, and on average, their household incomes have increased by more than 50% since joining a WAGES affiliated co-op. Most have health and dental insurance, along with other benefits through the co-op, and members build assets through their retained earnings held within the business. The co-ops also prevent the release of thousands of pounds of harmful chemicals into our air and water each year. The two largest co-ops average 30 members each and 1 million in annual sales.

Target demographics: Since 1998, WAGES has focused on creating jobs for Latina immigrant women, who become members of housecleaning cooperatives that use environmentally friendly cleaning techniques to protect worker health and the environment, while building stable, lucrative businesses.

Geographic areas served: San Francisco Bay Area

Community Stories

19 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

34

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

WAGES is an absolutely amazing organization doing very important "green jobs" work. They provide low-income women the training and support they need to form and operate successful worker-owned, environmentally-responsible cleaning cooperatives. WAGES clients are empowered to control their own destinies. They own their business, earn living wages, have health insurance for themselves and their families. WAGES trains coop members in environmentally preferable cleaning practices, using non-toxic products that have been carefully screened. This approach protects the workers and their clients from exposure to toxic chemicals, and reduces environmental impacts. I became aware of WAGES because two of the coops they formed, Natural Home Cleaning Professionals and Eco-Care Professional Housecleaning, became certified by the program I coordinate, the Bay Area Green Business Program. To be certified, Natural Home and Eco-Care had to demonstrate what they were doing to prevent pollution, conserve energy and water and reduce waste at their office and job sites. The women who operate these businesses are knowledgeable, skillful and motivated to provide excellent, environmentally-friendly service. That is a great testimony to WAGES, the organization that prepared them to succeed.

32

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

WAGES is great, providing a valuable service to its clients and participants. i plan on using them in the future. go wages!

32

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WAGES helps low income women improve their lives and their livelihood, through green jobs. WAGES seeds cooperative businesses in which women are worker owners, get benefits, make a decent salary, and protect the environment -and their health! by using eco-friendly cleaning products. I understand that most of these women more than double their income by becoming worker-owners of their own cleaning businesses. How cool is that? WAGES deserves to be the winner of the "green choice contest" as they are helping the planet every bit as much as they are helping deserving, hard working women. Go WAGES!

33

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a professional working with worker cooperatives for 15 years, and two of their most common challenges are the inability to balance mission with business savvy and failure to replicate. WAGES addresses both of these challenges head on in a spectacular way. It creates vibrant cooperative businesses that fulfill a strong environmental, social, gender, and racial justice mission. It also has replication built into its structure: expect to see green women-owned worker co-ops showing up in your region before long!

33

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is an amazing organization that has created very innovative ways for Latinas to own their own business and reduce pollution from household chemicals. I got to know WAGES 8 yeas ago and am inspired but their leadership connecting environmental and economic justice. Their impact promoting non-toxic cleaning and educating not just the cooperative members but their clients and other women. I have been happy with the excellent quality services and impressed with the confidence and team work that the women have.

25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with WAGES in early 2009 and it has been a wonderful experience for me. Through volunteering with Wages I have learned so much about coops and the many benefits of being a worker owner-from additional job security, health benefits, and empowerment. I'm learning tons and excited to continue volunteering with WAGEs!

25

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The folks at wages didn't stop at just reforming home cleaning, they're now gearing up to create healthier and more fair conditions for those who clean the commercial sector! Their enthusiasm and commitment to help and assist others whose voice isn't as strong (or as understood, due to language barriers) is admirable and inspiring. As a commercial real estate advisor and local building owner, I'm thrilled at the opportunity to hopefully help such a great organization of passionate and skilled people.

24

Donor

Rating: 5

I think WAGES performs two important roles supremely well. It educates not only the women who clean with environmentally approved products but also the owners whose houses they clean. Secondly by creating a role of ownership for the women who belong to and run these organzations, it gives them them the dignity they have every right to have.

28

Client Served

Rating: 5

WAGES helps create and support the development of sustainable business which enable women to work with dignity and control over their own futures. The business that I have most familiarity with is Natural Home Cleaning which not only does an excellent job with green house cleaning, but also empowers the coop members to run their own business and participate in the decisions that impact their work.

28

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have an old enamel "Wedgewood" stove, well-used but no longer the glowing white it once was. I never saw it so clean as when we had WAGES-trained and -organized cleaners here. The whole house breathes a sigh of relief after they come through.

23

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've had housecleaning by them for four years, always with great results. The quality has been consistent each and every time. To top it off, only natural products are used, the workers get a fair wage and are involved in the decisions. They are doing well on all fronts. I think people sometimes accept a lower level of service in exchange for supporting a business with good progressive credentials. However, with WAGES, I don't have to -- because their service is super!

22

Client Served

Rating: 5

I live in a house with 7 other people and it can get predictably filthy. After a hiring the women from wages, our home was immaculate. I am very pleased with their quality of service and integrity.

23

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have corresponded with WAGES on several occasions to find out about housecleaning services. The people at WAGES are efficient, courteous, helpful, knowledgable and fair. I have never before looked into housecleaning services, but the fact that WAGES helps to establish green cleaning businesses; that these businesses are run as women's cooperatives; and that the women involved are working women striving for economic independence are all important factors to me.

23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The more I know about this organization, the more incredible I think they are. WAGES helps low income immigrant women form their own green cleaning co-operatives. I know that's a mouthful, but they have a ton of integrity and tackle loads of social justice issues: *empowering women *immigrant rights *business development in low-income communities *use of co-operative models *green cleaning *making work for all people dignified The women in the WAGES-built co-ops enjoy substantially better income and benefits than they did pre-co-op, and as co-owneres, they have a much greater stake in their work.

14

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an organization that truly empowers community members and as such makes our community a better place enviromentally, financially as well as on the human level. My interest in volunteering at WAGES started when a close friend that cleans houses with regular non green products kept telling me of all thes symptoms that she has been having. I know she takes pride in her work but those products have taxed her health. WAGES is the alternative so that WAGES members can stay healthy, financially viable and consider the environment a top priority. Coming to the downtown office to volunteer is a fulfilling and great experience for me, people at the office are incredibly friendly and patient and they are so committed to their work.

25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WAGES secures self-suficiency for immigrant women and contributes to a green and healthy environment by the services they provide. They innovative, precise and have a clear vision of community empowerment.

27

Board Member

Rating: 5

I'm proud to serve as a Board Member of this non-profit, which creates worker-owned eco-friendly home cleaning businesses in the Latina community. Being worker-owners has a huge impact on the personal and family income for the women involved, as well as reducing the health impacts (asthma, reproductive hazards, etc.) of cleaning chemicals by using the least toxic ones available. This is good for the women in the business, their clients -and- the environment, win-win all around.

23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WAGES is a great organization with a dedicated staff working toward improving the lives of immigrant families across Northern California. An organization that helps with the creation of housecleaning co-ops they do not only provide financial assistance, but also provide women with business development training, personal and leadership skills. At the same time taking care of the environment by making the co-ops eco-friendly with the products and techniques the house-cleaners use.

24

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have used Natural Homes Cleaning Cooperative that was started by WAGES. Through my involvement with them I have developed a greater understanding of the toxic effects of most house cleaning methods. I am so thankful for their environmentally friendly cleaning methods that are both wonderful cleaning work and safe for me and the environment