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2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Self Sustaining Communities

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Service Organizations, Human Services, Public & Societal Benefit

Mission: To assist in creating a systemic change in the SF East Bay of Northern California which meets environmental, social, and sustainability needs by addressing those areas upon which survival is dependent, specifically food, energy, transportation, shelter and social inclusion. We focus on low-income, high crime areas, but are not necessarily limited thereto, most particularly Richmond, CA. We approach these areas as part of an integrated larger area where coming together to make a systemic change can effect greater well-being for all members of the community.

Results: Over 16,000 fruit, nut and olive trees distributed freely to the community; four urban farms in current production by and for the community. Street orchard planted for the homeless and addicted community nearby.

Target demographics: create local food, natural building structures, urban farmsm homeless work programs, work with formerly incarcerated

Geographic areas served: Richmond and San Pablo

Programs: materials, land and volunteer help to communities to create whole sustainable environments by and through their own sweat equity.

Community Stories

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

Since I first found out about Self Sustaining Communities I have continued to be pleased and encouraged with what they are doing. Looking back at the things they have accomplished for the community before I heard of them, it's impressive.
The progress they have made since then, with their new larger plot of land has been a joy to see and to follow via social media.
I can't wait to see this and their other projects (if you'll pardon the pun) continue to flourish and bear fruit.

Scott Weston


Rating: 5

As a regular small donor to Self-Sustaining Communities, I have been eager to see that they are able to do those things which, as a senior community member, I am no longer able to do. As a result, I do feel that in my small way I am able to help, and that gives me great satisfaction to know I can still make a difference too. They are always so appreciative of my gift. I enjoy the handwritten notes and I look forward to seeing the press and favorable impact they always have in their community.

Evelyn W.


Rating: 5

Self-Sustaining Communities has received small grants from The Strong Foundation for Environmental Values. We support the goal of this organization, working to better the lives of Richmond residents through sustainable living and community participation. Under the visionary and collaboratory leadership of Executive Director, Linda Schneider, Self-Sustaining Communities has quickly become an effective community organization that is creative in its responsiveness to community needs.


Rating: 5

This small group has tremendous community impact. They create urban gardens in low-income, high crime neighborhoods, build rainwater harvesting systems that run on affordable solar panels, hold bee-keeping and chicken-keeping workshops, and distribute 1000s of fruit trees in downtrodden areas. They work with community residents to create a healthy and sustainable way of life. I have never seen a group that can do so much with so little. I can only imagine what they could do if they had more money.


Rating: 5

I have known the founder of this nonprofit for several years. In this difficult economy she had a goal of helping the poorest amongst us find a way to produce their own food. She began with distributing free fruit and nut trees and also seeds -- all of which she acquired by soliciting growers for donations. She and volunteers picked up those trees and handled the distributions. Her work has grown with the creation of a small urban farm with chickens, bees, community vegetable gardens and more. She seeks to involve those in the community to work in those gardens, learn how to produce food and make a beautiful environment using recycled materials and with sustainable methods. She arranges classes and demonstrations on her urban farm and is establishing other farm sites in our large city-- all with local volunteers. She also works with local city leaders to create and improve local environmental projects such as bio-swale sites. An important part of her work is that she lives and works in the difficult environment she is trying to transform.

Review from Guidestar