Founded by Greg Croteau, the Massachusetts-based, non-profit UTEC aims to rescue young adults facing gang violence, with criminal records or in poverty, while simultaneously recycling mattresses. To do this, UTEC recruits a youth workforce (where 83% have a criminal record, 76% were in a gang and 68% don’t have high school degrees) to break down mattresses and salvage reusable raw materials to give to hotels, colleges, hospitals and other municipalities. The job is a lesson in teamwork as members often have to work with those from rival gangs. After completing the mattress recycling program, participants can continue UTEC training through culinary lessons, a woodworking program that turns scrap wood into cutting boards sold through Whole Foods and classroom education that helps them earn GEDs or college credit. Compared to Massachusetts’ 50% recidivism rate, UTEC is highly successful as 87% of its graduates stay out of trouble. Learn more about the life-saving program at Core77.
Image courtesy of Core77