E-Stewards receives Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation grant

The group was recognized for its Advance+ employment inclusion program now open to all certified electronics recyclers.

The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF), Arlington, Virginia, has awarded e-Stewards, a Seattle-based organization that defines and promotes responsible electronics reuse and recycling best practices, for its Advance+ program in 2022. The foundation awarded the program a $75,000 grant to empower certified electronics recyclers to develop an inclusive workforce and provide employment to autistic and disabled workers.

According to a news release from e-Stewards, with the grant it will provide a $5,000 scholarship to the first five recyclers to be accepted into the 2022 class as well as support to Blue Star Recyclers, Colorado Springs, Colorado; James Emmett & Co., Monticello, Indiana; and e-Stewards for joint administration of the program and production of a short promotional video.

“As a funder, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation defines success through collaboration,” says Kevin Webb, senior director of MEAF. “The e-Stewards’ Advance+ involves a collaboration of three outstanding partners that achieve our funding goals by providing meaningful and competitive employment for young people with disabilities and a labor solution for employers.”

E-Stewards say Advance+ is an inclusive workforce development program for certified electronics recyclers in the United States. It uses the Blue Star Recyclers employment model and is fulfilled by James Emmett & Co., a disability consulting services provider. Since its launch in 2020 with support from MEAF, seven electronics recyclers have been trained at 10 locations across the country, resulting in the permanent and competitive employment of 37 people with disabilities.

“Our workforce of people with disabilities has great attendance and very low turnover,” says Bob Adams, vice president of Finance and Operations at Sipi Asset Recovery. “They are extremely engaged and devoted employees. Because of this, our company has committed to a new goal of increasing employment for people with disabilities from 20 percent to 50 percent of our total workforce by the end of 2023.”

This year, e-Stewards has opened the program to all certified electronics recyclers, information technology asset disposition businesses and enterprise partners. Workforce inclusion is one of e-Stewards’ primary social impact goals, the organization says.

“While Advance+ is a way for e-Stewards to help increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities, its main purpose is to help employers access and leverage the talent available in that workforce,” says Bill Morris, social chair of e-Stewards and founder of Blue Star Recyclers.