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Business | Written By Gene Boes, President & CEO

Another Home-grown Innovation That Delivers: Partnerships To Benefit The Local Community

By Gene Boes, President & CEO, Northwest Center
Value Village & Northwest Center 


Few regions have seen as much change in recent years as the Pacific Northwest. A technology-driven boom has propelled growth in the Puget Sound region, with Seattle earning the status of fastest-growing city and undisputed construction crane capital in the nation.
Each of us has a front-row seat to experience the impact of technology and innovation as it transforms how we live and work. While much of this change is positive, it’s also clear that some in our community are unfortunately being left behind. Even as each new skyscraper crowds the Seattle skyline, our region struggles with homelessness and affordable housing, disparities in education and income, and the lack of an inclusive community.

The good news is that just as the region is a hotbed for innovation in biotech, cloud computing and aerospace, it also is becoming an incubator for creative approaches to addressing social challenges. Amazon Smile and Starbucks’ Serve with Us programs are just two examples of large, locally based global companies partnering with the community to drive critical social change.

While some of these partnerships are still in early stages, I know they can work because for more than 50 years, Northwest Center has been doing something similar—partnering with a local business to help us deliver services for our clients and their families. Our partnership with Value Village is a vital component of our effort to advance our mission of inclusion.

Founded in 1965 as a civil rights organization dedicated to social justice for people with developmental disabilities, Northwest Center entered into its first business partnership in 1967 with Bellevue-based Savers, parent company to Value Village. As a for-profit thrift retailer, Value Village partners with Northwest Center and other local nonprofit organizations by purchasing donations of secondhand clothing and household goods from us. In 2016 alone, Value Village provided over $13 million to Washington-based charitable organizations and diverted 46 million pounds of used goods from Washington’s landfills.

Northwest Center’s partnership with Value Village generates steady revenue to fund programs for early intervention, early childhood education, and employment opportunities to thousands of families. For the thousands of families we serve, our business relationship with Value Village has enabled us to create innovative new offerings like our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Smooth Way Home early intervention program—the first of its kind in Washington state. It also allows us to scale up and train more people with disabilities for job opportunities, create additional business units to serve more industries, and serve an increasing number of families over the last half-century.

Value Village continually supports Northwest Center’s mission to create a more inclusive community, particularly for those of all abilities. One great example is Stephan, who participated in Northwest Center’s School-to- Work program. Stephan received hands-on coaching and training which helped him actively prepare for employment opportunities before graduating from high school. Now Stephan works at a Northwest Center donation station in Seattle. As a member of the Big Blue Truck™ team, he helps collect donated clothing and household goods that are then sold to Value Village for resale in its stores.

While our region may be best known for innovations in aerospace and technology, we are proud of the innovative business-nonprofit partnership model we chartered 50 years ago. Together, we jointly tackle creating equal opportunity for persons with developmental disabilities while helping to keep clothing and household goods out of Washington landfills.

The enduring partnership between Northwest Center and Value Village exemplifies how everyone benefits through private sector/non-profit partnerships. We are committed to continuing our efforts to find new models and approaches that create opportunities for all community members.

TVI, Inc. d/b/a Value Village is a for profit commercial fundraiser, accepting donations of secondhand clothing and household goods on behalf of Northwest Center of Seattle, WA. The required registration is on file with the Secretary of State’s charity program. Additional financial disclosure information is available by calling the Secretary of State at 1‐800‐332‐4483.