2020 Was Bananas! Avocados Too. Fair Trade Numbers from Equal Exchange
We are big supporters of the Fair Trade movement here at the Untours Foundation in Media, PA, the first Fair Trade Town in the US. With inspiration and energy from our founder, Hal Taussig, we have worked locally and internationally to support and further the mission. We have also invested in Equal Exchange and many
From the Home Office of Elizabeth: Impact Investing, Shark Tank, Cats & More
Untours Foundation Co-CEO Elizabeth Killough is expanding her influence and growing her impact as a champion for Mission Aligned Investment. We caught up with her recently to learn more about what she’s up to. What investees are you most excited about? There’s simply no “most excited.” We select only awesome investees and love them all
Supporting the B Corp Movement from Its Very Beginnings
March in B Corp Month, so we are taking a little time to explore the importance of this movement of business for the greater good. What is a B Corp? Have you ever noticed a big B logo on your butter (Cabot Creamery) or soap (Seventh Generation) or flour (King Arthur)? It means the product
Grant Blvd Gets Some Love (and Money) from Beyoncé
Grant Blvd is much more than a sustainable fashion brand. This brilliant Black-owned, Philadelphia-based apparel company make one-of-a-kind pieces from deadstock and upcycles thrift store cast-offs into beautiful clothing. Beyond this, Grant Blvd stands up for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, in its hiring practices, in some of its designs (like shirts that read “end
Courting Mr. Wonderful: Kreyòl Essence Swims with the Sharks
We love our investees and are especially proud of smart entrepreneurs like Yve-Car Momperousse and Stephane Jean-Baptiste. Their Kreyòl Essence is a natural beauty brand that sources its skin and hair care ingredients from fairly paid farmers in Haiti. It is a laudable model for its commitment to organic farming and lifting women from poverty.
In November Jonathan Coleman joined longtime director Elizabeth Killough to help run the Untours Foundation. As the foundation’s new Co-CEO, Jonathan is working alongside Elizabeth (or at a social distance) to chart and execute a plan for growth and resilience in the foundation’s next chapter. He brings rich business and life experience, with an MBA
Elizabeth Killough on the Off the Sideline Podcast: Mission-Aligned Investing
The Untours Foundation’s longtime director Elizabeth Killough recently sat down with Technical.ly Assistant Editor Stephen Babcock to talk about impact investing for the Off the Sideline podcast. She spoke about mission-aligned investing, and how the Untours Foundation invests its endowment to fund solutions to real word problems. The Untours Foundation is leading the movement and
For Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, we held a powerful, loving and inspiring conversation with Dana Donofree about her business, AnaOno. The Untours Foundation was an early supporter of this venture. Dana, a breast cancer survivor herself, creates feminine, comfortable undergarments for cancer patients, cancer survivors, and women who want better options. She set
We recently hosted a Zoom conversation with Rachel Faller the founder of tonlé, a sustainable fashion label with all the right style and values. Working in Cambodia on a Fulbright scholarship, Rachel saw the impacts of fast fashion first hand, and she struck a new path. Her clothing line is zero waste, though we would
Remembering Olga Corrias Murro Hancock, 1977 – 2020 It is with tremendous sadness that I share news of my dear friend and colleague Olga’s passing. She died in mid-November, two years after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She faced the challenges of cancer and its treatments with strength, resilience, frustration, fury, and an ever-present
Creating a New Normal for Business, With Your Help
Before Kreyol Essence won on Shark Tank, they were winners of the foundation’s UnDreamed Of Award Dear Untours family, Guess what? We’re still here! Brian Taussig-Lux and the Untours team are keeping the home fires burning planning for Untours’ future while I, along with our Board, have been working with our entrepreneurs helping them
Let’s build something impossible together. – Devon Walls In the aftermath of the brutal killing of George Floyd, the public outcries for racial justice have swept the nation and the globe. In Chester, a group of local artists, led by Devon Walls, moved quickly to turn a proactively boarded up storefront into a vivid rallying
To Our Untours Foundation Family, For the past several weeks the Coronavirus has caused disruption in our communities, our businesses, the economy, and our lives. These are certainly unprecedented times! Our thoughts are with all of you, as well as those who are sick from the virus, the brave healthcare workers who are on the
Equal Exchange is one of the largest and best known worker-owned cooperatives in the country. One of the pioneers of the Fair Trade movement, they have focused on the promotion and distribution of Fair Trade foodstuffs for over 30 years and have helped introduce the concept of Fair Trade to mainstream retail outlets and consumers.
Divine Chocolate started in the early 90s, when cocoa farmers set up one of the first farmer-owned chocolate companies with districution in the UK. Pioneers of the Fair Trade chocolate movement, Divine gives 45% of the company’s ownership to the cocoa farmers themselves. This is a model to be replicated. Their business model leverages farmers’
On a Fulbright Scholarship, tonlé founder Rachel Faller saw the human and economic impact of fast fashion first hand. Upon her return, she set out to forge a kinder path with her zero-waste clothing company. They make beautiful apparel from after-market fabric remnants and garment scraps. Their mostly female Cambodian employees are paid far more
At the end of 2019, Untours Foundation Co-CEO Elizabeth Killough delivered the commencement address for Penn State, Brandywine. This branch on Pennsylvania’s state university system is near and dear our heart for its groundbreaking commitment to Fair Trade. Elizabeth’s speech touched on Fair Trade, ecology, and our shared destiny. She also addressed our capacity to
Senda makes Fair Trade soccer balls emphasizing good craftsmanship and the joy of playing, all while improving lives along the way. Argentina-born, California-based Santiago Halty wants to change the business of soccer balls, support soccer nonprofits, and bring back the fun and community of a casual street game. As he says, “We hope to inspire
Global Exchange is a well known human rights organization advocating for social, economic, and environmental justice around the world. Their activist campaigns, travel program, and educational resources target poverty and global inequality. For over 30 years Global Exchange has engaged in humanitarian efforts, organized natural disaster relief, and supported grassroots movements to protect immigration rights,
Cooperative Coffees is a forward-thinking coffee import cooperative that partners with small-scale coffee farmers and local exporting coops in the developing world to make the industry more sustainable for all. Engaging in direct trade with farmers and connecting with importers all over North America, they have built a strong, ethical supply chain for high quality
Pachamama Coffee Cooperative is a 100% farmer-owned coffee growers cooperative, administrated in Sacramento, California. It brings together thousands of growers from Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, and Ethiopia and guarantees that 100% of its profits go back to the farmer-owners. Pachamama offers a wide range of premium organic coffees and offers consumers interesting, exciting, and innovative
Wearwell is a home delivery fashion service that uses savvy stylists to personalize looks for its clients and ships them boxes of hand-picked items to wear or return. Their difference is that wearwell sources its clothing, handbags, and jewelry from companies that are screened for fair wages and labor practices and environmental responsibility. Pieces are
Oke USA was a critical early player in the importing of Fair Trade produce to North America. Importing organic fruit from Ecuador, Peru, and Mexico, they have helped expand Fair Trade beyond coffee. They have partnered with local farmers to source avocados and bananas, paying fair prices to farmers that benefit their families and lift
Comon Yaj Noptic is a cooperative of organic coffee farmers in Chiapas, Mexico founded in 1995. They work closely with our friends at Equal Exchange and some of their beans are used in Equal Exchange coffees. The farmers not only grow organically, but they participate in wildlife and ecological monitoring, particularly of the local birds.
Since the opening of its first storefront in 1950, SERRV International has worked to bring fairly sourced crafts and foodstuffs to market. SERRV sells a wide range of housewares, crafts, clothing, foods, and gifts, all fairly traded and responsibly made. As one of the first Fair Trade organizations in the world, they have extended to
Greensgrow is an innovative Philadelphia-based urban farm project that works to make healthy, local food accessible to city dwellers and opens new options in food deserts. This creative nonprofit grows food on the former site of an industrial area. They run farm stands, garden centers, demonstration gardens, and educational community programs that revolve around ecology
Earth and State is a charming shop that sells handmade crafts and unique gifts. A vital part of the small business landscape of Media, PA, the hometown of Untours, this shop offers beautiful things sourced with care. The shop’s name is a cheeky reference to their location of the main drag of Media, State Street.
Investment decisions are not taken lightly here at the Untours Foundation. With limited resources and so many organizations in need of funding, it isn’t easy for the UF investment committee to make their choices. Sometimes though, the concept is just so compelling that it becomes a natural match. That’s certainly the case for one
Forgotten by many, abandoned by some, treasured by those who live in it. Artist and entrepreneur Devon Wall lives and believes in Chester and takes us on a “tour” of a special, collaborative effort to bring new life into his city. Art and culture have historically defined the character of the city of Chester. And
At Untours Foundation, we literally “support” our investees, and we’ve got the photo to prove it!
After a summer heavy rain got Lor Holmes’s flight canceled, she finally made it to sunny Philadelphia. And, lucky me [Olga], I got to host her at my very own home in Chestnut Hill, along with Untours Foundation Director Elizabeth Killough and Board President Heather Van Dusen. Lor leads venture development and capitalization strategies at
Meet Olga, our new Director of Donor Happiness. Olga Corrias Hancock has over a decade of experience in fundraising and alumni engagement in the field of higher education. She worked as the director of Advancement for the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the director of Alumni Relations
Michigan based Rende Progress Capital is the recipient of the foundation’s most recent loan. Rende is a Community Development Financial Institute or CDFI, a mouthful either way! CDFIs include a variety of banking institutions that provide credit and financial services to low-wealth communities. They are a great place to put savings, receive interest on that
I never appreciated Mister Rogers all these years aside from the very cheap thrill I’d get walking through his actual neighborhood on my way to grad school. That changed after seeing the documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” I keep coming back to this film in my mind. Columnist David Brooks wrote in The New
Witness to Innocence is celebrating its 15th year of fighting for an end to the death penalty. For those who may not be familiar with their work, Witness to Innocence was founded by SIster Helen Prejean and Ray Krone; she is an internationally renowned anti-death penalty activist and he is the 100th person exonerated from
Our 2018 UnGala was an unbridled success. We were thrilled to have Untourists, investees, investors, supporters and Foundation family all in one room. The energy was amazing. Thank you to Jay and Randi Coen Gilbert for opening their home to all of us. Our 2018 UnDreamed Of Award winner was Yve-Car Momperousse of Kreyol Essence.
The Power of Community Investment: South Philly Food Co-op
When Catherine first moved to Philly, having access to healthy, local food was already a priority for her. She was enamored with her new community on the southern edge of the city where people from all walks of life seemed to converge, with over 40 languages spoken among them! She wanted to be intentional about
That’s right, The 2018 UnGala, a celebration of the Untours Foundation family, is soon upon us! The theme this year is “The House of Untours” — despite our low-key and frugal ways, we want to show off some fantastic ethical fashion from our investee wearwell. This year will feature Melissa Lee, an Untours Foundation
It’s been quite a few years since Untours Travel and the Foundation created a brochure together, but we figured it was about time. We are, after all, two sides of the same coin, and we support each other in innumerable ways. We’re excited to give you a preview here in digital form…but more importantly, if
Our investees span the globe, from Indonesia to Africa, California to Philadelphia. Our work has often focused on urban redevelopment, but we value rural communities and their vital role in growing food, tending the earth and providing so many goods which we all depend upon. Many of our investees have more than one place where
Our director, Elizabeth, was invited to write a piece about impact investing and risk, a specialty of the Untours Foundation since its inception. The Untours Foundation has no endowment, but rather directly invests in businesses that are doing good, solving problems, creating good jobs for those who need them most while helping the planet.
“I felt like this is it. I’m going to combine my two passions for fair trade and for soccer, and start a company to provide soccer lovers with premium quality soccer balls.” – Senda founder Santiago Halty We know how passionate sports fans can be for their teams (Fly Eagles, Fly!), and for
We are thrilled to welcome six new board members to the Foundation, bringing a wealth of insight and experience! Pictured from left is: Elizabeth Killough, Foundation Director, Lisa Mitchell, Board Treasurer, Brian Taussig-Lux, Untours CEO, Linshuang Lu, new board member, Caleb Harvey, new board member, Pat Beauchamp, Board Vice-President, Heather Van Dusen, Board
Dear wonderful Foundation Family, I can turn to Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice cream only so many times. The current political upheavals and gridlocks, both here and abroad, are exasperating – and troubling. But in these frustrating times, I can assure you of this: our work at the Foundation does something that Congress has yet
Photo above: Broome Farm, our next door neighbor My Scottish Untour by Untours Foundation Board member Alix Rabin I was drawn to Scotland by the desire to stand in the midst of breathtakingly beautiful moors and crags and mountains and lakes. My Scottish Untour did not disappoint. Arriving at the Wallace View 2 apartment,
Getting Past Inertia: Ten Simple, Valiant Steps To Align Your Foundation’s Endowment With Your Mission – Or Not
Huff Post blog by Untours Foundation Director Elizabeth Killough There’s a lot of judgment these days about your endowment. You use it only to grow more money when it could be doing that and much more. I admit to my own judgment and perhaps you can face up to yours. You inherited a 100-year old
The Untours Foundation hasn’t ever made a loan to a museum, but it is invested in an exciting new arts project in the struggling city of Chester, Pa. New Day Chester is inspiring artistic expression and using it as fuel for social renewal and much-needed economic development. With multi-talented artist and entrepreneur, Devon Walls, at
Enjoy short videos of two presentations at our recent UnGala event celebrating the Foundation’s 25th Anniversary: Rachel Faller, founder of the Fair Trade clothing business, tonlé, who won our UnDreamed of Award for social vision, economic justice, and environmental transformation in business; and Devon Walls of New Day Chester, a Foundation investee who is leading an arts
The Untours Foundation held its second annual UnGala on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at the gorgeous home of Bart and Chrissy Houlahan outside of Philadelphia. We are so grateful for everything about this event: our generous hosts, our wonderful community of supporters, our inspiring investees, and our hardworking volunteers. The celebration brought out nearly 100 of
Lancaster Food Company, one of the Untours Foundation’s recent investees, is definitely a “town and country” company. Located in Lancaster, Pa, this organic bakery straddles two worlds—a city with a population of half-a-million and a county that is home to some of America’s most idyllic countryside. It’s the perfect place for a business that
What if U.S. communities embraced the gifts that international refugees have to offer and partnered with them to rebuild our economy through innovative business models? And what if those business models reinvigorated old industries with fresh ideas and a responsive approach? That is exactly what Knotty Tie, an entrepreneurial and visionary business in Denver, Colorado,
Thanksgiving Feast and a Straw Bale Community Center at Standing Rock
Huffington Post blog by Untours Foundation Director Elizabeth Killough A Wopila feast – Lakota for Thank You – is being prepared for the Protectors at Standing Rock on Thanksgiving Day thanks to the spark and energy of Judy Wicksand 60 of her friends and fans. Judy is a household name in Philadelphia for her White
Huffington Post Blog by Untours Foundation Director Elizabeth Killough When the heater gave out at Broad Street Ministry last December at the start of the Philadelphia winter, it should have meant an end to that non-profit’s weekly hospitality to hundreds of people without homes. Non-profits typically don’t have $250,000 in the ready for
Huffington Post Blog by Untours Foundation Director Elizabeth Killough Or are they foobs? Apparently, some breast cancer survivors refer to their reconstructed breasts that way. While you take that in… After her double mastectomy and breast reconstructions five years ago, Dana Donofree was bummed to discover that the only thing the American Cancer
We invest worldwide in amazing businesses including several in Chester, PA, which is just ten minutes from our offices. Chester holds the tragic distinction of having the highest homicide rate in the US. But help has come from the heart of Chester in the form of several entrepreneurs, who have stepped up to the plate
[three_fourth_last] By Frances Schwabenland, our photojournalist. If you are lucky enough to spend time with Chris, you will be in the midst of poetry in motion! An artist of nature! It was just after sunrise when I was introduced to the Kitchen Harvest garden. I am not a morning person but the thought of missing
By Frances Schwabenland, our photojournalist. “I have to be here.” Mildred was fighting a cold but she didn’t let that stop her. Her sense of responsibility and dedication has made her the first Employee of the Month for Wash Cycle Laundry. That morning, 39 bags filled with clothes, linens, sheets and towels had to be
My dear friend Hal passed away yesterday. I was so incredibly lucky to work with Hal for a decade. What a man, what a character, what an inspiration. He walked his talk with joy in his heart and a good dose of mischief around the edges.
There are so many shopping guides out there for the holidays. Why is ours superior, seriously? Because these companies don’t just create wonderful products, they create good jobs, they care for the environment and create the positive changes we need in the world. And, finally, they are all “Investees” — the Untours Foundation has backed them with a low-interest loan or an equity investment.
On October 3rd, Untours — the foundation and business together — hosted the first-ever Ungala, in celebration of 40 years of Untours and 23 years of the foundation. We brought together staff, board members, Untourists and donors, investees and community partners into a board member’s home for a cozy evening of socializing. We’ve always been about blurring the lines between business and philanthropy (a word Hal disliked), but bringing all these folks together was perhaps the first time we had literally mixed it ALL up in person.
Norma Lee Black Taussig, our dear friend and co-founder of the foundation, died yesterday at 92. I think Norma would have said she wasn’t 92 years “young,” but 92 years “old.” She lived through much hardship including the death of her beloved brother when she was young to living with the effects of a serious
This nifty radio piece investigates how a new business model is trying to help people in Haiti. While they don’t exactly quote Hal’s phrase “A hand up, not a handout,” there is a similar mindset — that business might have some answers to problems that charity alone can’t solve. (Just for full disclosure, we have
There’s a new crop of business incubators and shared work spaces around the US that are housing some of our current and potential loan recipients, among others. Myself and Jon Blum, our fantastic pro bono consultant, just visited one such space, The Pipeline, in Philadelphia. The view from one of its meeting rooms is Philadelphia City Hall with
If you haven’t seen it, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a very informative article in 2012 about Hal and Norma and their wishes for the Untours Foundation. Read it here. We couldn’t summarize better ourselves what’s been going on. The foundation board is working hard to maintain Hal’s legacy, while also remembering that Hal said, “If
December 2014 Dear Untours family, As a youngster, my grandfather “Pop” taught himself to read out of boredom during long church services, sitting on the floor at his father’s knee. While the minister read the scripture aloud, he would follow his father’s finger on the words in the Bible. In time, Pop could read what
Today is Hal’s 90th birthday — we wish the founder of Untours and the Untours Foundation a wonderful day. We are so grateful for all he has brought to the world, and how he inspires us. Hal, you’re one of a kind! [hal]
Yes, it’s that time again — but do it differently! It’s time to think of gifts again. While we support giving homemade gifts, as well as gifts of special time and attention, sometimes, for some folks, we do want to give some thing. This holiday season, why not try shopping from an Untours Foundation
Here’s a great article that summarizes all the challenges that IceStone has faced, including 5 feet of standing water after hurricane Sandy, and how CEO Dal LaMagna and their employees have come together and gotten IceStone back on its feet! Read it here.
Untours Foundation loan recipient EcoZoom has been nominated as one of 2014’s design pioneers by Smithsonian Design Museum. Their Jet cookstove makes it possible to burn much less charcoal and produce much less carbon emissions, which improves the health of folks on the ground and improves the health of our planet. EcoZoom estimates that CO2
One of the Untours Foundations’ early investments was a small credit union in North Carolina called Self-Help. Small Beginnings Self-Help Credit Union had just about the smallest beginning you can imagine — with $77 in bake sale proceeds! Since 1984, it has grown to 17 branches all over North Carolina. True to its roots and mission, it gives back
The Background: Equal Exchange has been selling fair trade coffee since 1986, and we first supported them with a loan in 1998. We invested equity in 2009 to launch their fair trade banana importing company Oke USA. Equal Exchange/Oke USA supports fair trade cooperatives and bring their goods to the US market, fostering mutually beneficial relationships and environmental sustainability.
The Background: Since 2010, Wash Cycle Laundry has established itself as one of the leaders in combining social entrepreneurship with green business, employing adults from vulnerable populations to work in their bicycle powered green laundry service. It earned “Best of Philly” in 2012 and the Sustainable Business Network‘s Visionary Entrepreneur Award in 2011, among other
The Background: Alan, our near-neighbor of West Chester, PA, is founder and President of SosteNica. SosteNica provides multiple layers of support to Nicaraguan communities, starting with microcredit loans and reaching to hands-on initiatives in sustainable building and agriculture. Additionally, SosteNica is where our Charitable Remainder Trust is invested. For more background, visit our SosteNica page. Alan gave us
What better way to set off on a new adventure than by bicycle? On Sunday, Wash Cycle Laundry began a two-day trip on their signature trikes down to Washington D.C., where Gabe and company launched the first expansion of their innovative Philly laundry business. Read all about it in the Technicl.ly Philly. And in other
This Saturday is World Fair Trade Day! There are multitudes of ways to celebrate and get involved. Find an event near you — here and here! According to Elizabeth, Hal had the seemingly crazy idea to make our hometown of Media America’s First Fair Trade Town back in 2005, and now — we can browse Fair Trade
Elizabeth and I had a wonderful visit this week from Molly Hayward, founder of Cora. Molly is a passionate young entrepreneur from the Philadelphia area who really believes in changing how capitalism works. She calls Cora a “for-profit and for-purpose” social business. As Elizabeth remarked to Molly, “Hal will love you!” The service and mission
We’ve got a Facebook page! If and when you’re on Facebook, please stop on by and give us a “like” and share the news with your friends who might be interested. We’ll be adding tidbits of news from the office, updates of our loan recipients and a little sprinkle of the unexpected! You don’t have
Here’s some great news from loan recipient Ecozoom about their expansion into Rwanda! It’s the largest-ever project of its kind in Africa, with an estimated 1,200,000 clean cookstoves being distributed in partnership with DelAgua Health and Life Straw water filters. 600,000 stoves will be distributed free to the needy by the Department of Health and
Check out our post about Philly Compost on the Untours Blog, A Rind is a Terrible Thing to Waste. We explore the serious food waste problem in the United States and how Philly Compost is modeling a business to reduce food waste and our carbon footprint while enhancing our soils and gardens.
Untours Foundation loan recipient Wash Cycle Laundry is included in a profile of the Merchants Fund, a venerable institution which has turned to a new strategy — providing small loans to Philadelphia’s small businesses. Wash Cycle Laundry received a loan to add motor-assist to some of the laundry-hauling tricycles which will enable WCL to expand
This week, the first ten Fair Trade Schools in the United States were certified. No less than three of these schools are located in our hometown of Media, Pennsylvania! As a parent of three children at Media-Providence Friends School, and close with families at Media Elementary School, both newly certified schools, I (Shannon) have been
As reported in the nifty new online magazine called Flying Kite, the City of Philadelphia is now working with social entrepreneurs and innovative businesses to help improve the city. The first project is called FastFWD, “an urban innovation refinery.” With $1 million from Bloomberg’s “Mayors Challenge”, FastFWD will initially tackle Public Safety collaboratively with entrepreneurs
I have the best job in the world. I truly love it! Writing this annual letter, however, is a challenge. This is when I’d like to go on an Untour until someone else comes up with what to write. Why would anyone believe my superlatives about the Untours Foundation? I wouldn’t, if I weren’t a
In late November, Hal celebrated his 89th birthday with the Untours staff. While he is slowing down and only comes into the office occasionally, he sure loves being here! He enjoyed visiting with staff and Foundation board members, all dear friends. He even blew out the candles in one try!
For our 20th anniversary on April 22, 2013, we asked supporters what they would give the Untours Foundation, if it was their best friend. Here are their answers. The world’s most comfortable shoes, lightest and best binoculars, apps for all the info that Untourists find printed up when they arrive, and complete openness to all
Starting this November, Untours Foundation will be hosting periodic tours of loan recipient facilities for our donors. We’ll kick it off in November with Wash Cycle Laundry in Philadelphia. Since their facilities are small, we’ll only be able to have 10 donors take the tour, but you’ll get to see how the business works, meet