On May 9, 2013, SouthSTAR Services formally opened the doors of EcoSafe Processors, an electronic waste recycling program which provides vocational opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities. SouthSTAR, located in Chicago Heights, Illinois, was founded in 1950 by a group of parents in search of education, training, and activities for their disabled children.
Today SouthSTAR employs 130 people and provides over 450 individuals with developmental and vocational training, integrated community housing, transportation, workplace assistance, care giver respite, and life skills training. SouthSTAR EcoSafe Processors’ operations involve the collection, sorting, disassembly, and destruction of electronic equipment including computers, key boards, monitors, and printers. Commodities such as mother boards, copper wiring, electrical cords and destroyed hard drives are sold for scrap or refurbishment, generating revenue to pay consumers and offset program costs. The program enables SouthSTAR’s consumers to learn the skills necessary for eRecycling and empower them to continue working within this field, whether at SouthSTAR or elsewhere within the community.
In November, 2012, the Coleman Foundation awarded a grant of $75,000 for start-up costs which included equipment and materials, as well as some operational expenses such as rent and utilities. The project has also received support from the Aileen S. Andrews Foundation and the Walmart Foundation, via the "eXplore Recycling" initiative of The Arc of the United States. This project advances the Coleman Foundation’s Developmental Disabilities Impact Plan strategy #2: to fund efforts to expand job opportunities and prepare individuals for workplace success; and strategy #7: to support grantees’ development of non-governmental revenue streams.