Solutions (9)

(Click on the title for the full story.)

Teaching Social Justice

Bottom Line: Reach and Teach is a peace and social justice learning company dedicated to transforming the world through teachable moments.

JobTrain of Menlo Park

Bottom Line: JobTrain Provides First-Class Vocational Education that Allows Everyone a Chance to Improve Their Lives

JobTrain, a vocational education and job placement program based in Menlo Park, has found a way to help those residents of San Mateo County who need assistance in building a path to a successful career.

Goodwill Industries is much more than just used clothing.

Bottom Line: Goodwill Industries has been recycling since before it was called “recycling,” and today they are a leader in the effort to create good jobs for populations in need.


Goodwill Industries of San Francisco San Mateo and Marin was founded over 80 years ago as one of the original recyclers. Its mission was to take used clothing and household goods from wealthier households in the City, and refurbish them for re-use or re-sale to poorer parts of the community. Important to the process, Goodwill would hire citizens from these very same communities to do the work of mending clothes and refurbishing, leading to the slogan “a hand up, not a hand out…”

Get help with your commute from Ways to Work

Bottom Line: The Ways to Work Family Loan program, administered by Family Service Agency of San Mateo County, provides short-term, low interest loans to assist low-income parents in solving transportation problems.

family service

The Ways to Work Family Loan Program is a proven, innovative program that provides small, short-term, low-interest loans to assist low-income parents with challenging credit histories to cope with transportation barriers which may interfere with their ability to maintain self-sufficiency. The purpose of the loan is to assist low-income families through affordable car ownership as a solution to employment stability.

Become a Homeowner with Help From Habitat for Humanity

Bottom Line: Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco selects hard-working families with very low incomes to partner with them as homeowners.

Home Owner_HabitatHabitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, partners with hardworking families, community volunteers and donors, to build affordable ownership homes in Marin, San Francisco and on the Peninsula. Habitat Greater San Francisco provides a hand-up, not a handout for families in desperate need of improved living conditions. This opportunity is ever more important to low-income families during these tough economic times. Applicants for homeownership must go through a thorough selection process, including a review of financial status, job history, residency, and other qualifications. Applicants must meet certain income guidelines, have good credit, a minimal level of debt, and be willing and able to perform 500 hours of “sweat equity” to build their own home. At every step of the screening process, eligible families that move forward are celebrated. Houses are sold to partner families at no profit and are financed with affordable, zero interest mortgages that never exceeds 1/3 of the family’s monthly income.

Creative Living Arrangements Help Families Cope

Bottom Line: Creative living arrangements are community approaches to keeping people in their homes.

HipHousingAs the housing crisis unravels in 2009, people are adopting innovative living arrangements that reduce expenses, make mortgages affordable, and provide steady streams of income. One example of this is shared living arrangements. In this arrangement, two or more unrelated people share a home or apartment. Each person has a private room but shares common areas. Both parties can pay rent or there can be a service exchange in lieu of money. In a service exchange, one person provides childcare, elderly assistance, or other needed duties for another person. This is a low cost way to maintain stability and protection for people who might otherwise be unable to afford housing.

Green-Collar Jobs Are at the Heart of the Green Economy

Bottom Line: Green-Collar Jobs provide a prosperous pathway out of poverty for our people and our planet.

Green-CollarJobs-image1“Let’s take the people who most need work, connect them with the work that most needs to be done, and fight pollution and poverty at the same time.” Van Jones, Founder, Green For All

Green-collar jobs are like blue-collar jobs with a sustainable, community-building twist. Green-collar jobs are meaningful, pay family wages, and provide opportunities for advancement along a career track of increasing skills and wages. Green-collar jobs are in growing industries that are helping us kick the fossil fuel habit, curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, eliminating toxins, and protecting natural systems. Green-collar workers are already installing solar panels, retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient, constructing transit lines, refining waste vegetable oil into biodiesel, erecting wind farms, repairing hybrid cars, installing green rooftops, planting trees, and so much more.

One Gardener’s Dream Creates a Scholarship Program for Low Income Students

Bottom Line: The Bay Area Gardeners Foundation has provided $49,500 in scholarships to 31 low-income students, now in college, since its inception in 2006.

TapiaCatalino Tapia, a 2008 Sustainable San Mateo Award Winner, thought the odds were against him when he wanted to start a scholarship foundation in 2002. He had difficulty convincing his friends and the Latino community that it was possible for a Mexican immigrant gardener to raise money for low-income Latino high school students to go to college. So it wasn’t until 2005, when he took a long drive on Highway 5 to Los Angeles that he realized he had the power and strength within himself to make the Bay Area Gardeners Foundation a reality. All he had to do was ask for help, and success came soon after.

Free Services and Resources for Low-Income Families

Bottom Line: The Samaritan House provides a wide array of valuable free services and resources to low-income residents of San Mateo County with a focus on preserving dignity and increasing self-sufficiency.


Established in 1974, Samaritan House is a non-profit health and human services organization with over 30 years of experience in providing a broad range of free services and resources to low-income residents in San Mateo County. Each year they provide 9,000 visits in their two free medical clinics, supply more than 400 people with a warm bed, make over 120,000 meals, collect over 400,000 pounds of food from food drives and distribute 40,000 new toys to children.