Straw Into Gold

The Alchemy of CCA

We recently kicked off our second annual partnership with San Francisco-based California College of the Arts (CCA) with their “Rebranding Sustainability” Senior Seminar, conducted through the college’s community-building ENGAGE program.

Through Goodwill’s partnership, students gain access to thousands of pounds of donated materials gleaned from the Goodwill donation stream. These students then imagine how items destined to be down-cycled might be reborn and repurposed as new consumer or industrial products.

We serve as the community laboratory for the classroom. Meeting with students, we teach them about our triple-bottom-line social enterprise, reflecting with them about our common values, visions and innovations to positively impact the world. Through this shared value approach, both sides gain insights, inspiration, and ideas to transform each other’s thinking and strategies.
SF Goodwill CCA Rebranding Sustainability
Made up of a cross section of students from Industrial Design, Fashion, Animation, Architecture, Film and other disciplines, the group is dynamic, bringing many diverse perspectives to the work. The class explores the transformative power of design in making people think differently. They have been charged specifically to look for opportunities to define new material resources for design industries and microenterprises by digging into inventory waste in current fashion and textiles systems.

At first shy and nervous about being forced to analyze, choose, and begin iterating their designs, students grow more confident as the semester progresses. Along the way, we give feedback and provide insights and push the students on their assumptions. Our VP of Brand and Marketing challenges students to push beyond their first thoughts and offers sage advice about the look, feel, use, and aesthetics. This year a Goodwill team member who graduated from our Warehouse & Logistics Academy, works on our Facilities team, and is considered our resident artist is also providing invaluable insights on the work.
SF Goodwill CCA Rebranding Vinyl
It’s remarkable what these students achieve. Last year’s class, for example, created shelving systems using recycled yoga mats, and turned toxic VHS cassette tapes into a mesh material that, through filtration using sunflowers, could remove the horrible toxins and then be rendered harmless to the environment. Simply amazing! We were completely blown away by both the inventiveness and the beauty of the artwork. See them here.

Partnering with CCA again is such a personal highlight for me. As the CEO of a very complex and busy organization with many, many moving parts, being part of this collaboration inspires and re-invigorates me. I personally love the interactions and discussions with the students and faculty. I get to see first- hand the expression, creativity, and transformation of the students. Their ideas and the culminating projects truly have the capability to be that next great innovation.

Inspired and challenged by remarkable and brilliant instructors Amy Campos, Shalini Agrawal, and Lynda Grose (also a fantastic and dedicated Goodwill Board member), the students are pushed not only in human-centered design thinking. They challenge themselves to see beyond what they know and imagine what could be.
SF Goodwill CCA Rebranding Book Upcycle
At Goodwill, each day we see people who, when given a second chance, work hard to improve their lives, serve their communities, and protect our precious environment. Like the students, they too approach our efforts with ingenuity, vision, and purpose. One can see why this project is such a win-win-win for all involved.

I look forward to seeing the projects continue to unfold this year. We feel so fortunate to work with the creative teams at CCA, and we look forward to continuing our partnership and collaboration for years to come.