PLATINUM2023

Upstream

We heart reuse.

aka UPSTREAM Policy Institute, Inc.   |   Damariscotta, ME   |  https://www.upstreamsolutions.org/

Mission

Upstream is a US-based non-profit and leading change agency for the reuse movement in the US and Canada. They spark innovative solutions and forge strategic alliances to help people, businesses and communities shift from single-use to reuse.

Notes from the nonprofit

Upstream is helping businesses, communities, and individuals spark solutions to put people back to work, save businesses money, protect public health and solve plastic pollution at the same time. We work on PREVENTING plastic pollution and other waste. For those who want to make plastic pollution a thing of the past, consider our innovative solutions leveraging the public, private and non-profit sectors to tackle these problems with systemic, long-term answers.

Ruling year info

2004

CEO

Crystal Dreisbach

Main address

PO Box 1352

Damariscotta, ME 04543 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Product Policy Institute

EIN

43-2038678

NTEE code info

Management & Technical Assistance (C02)

Management & Technical Assistance (S02)

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Today, one trillion disposable food and beverage packaging items are used each year in the US, comprising 67% of litter found in the environment. Unfortunately, switching from single-use plastic to another single-use product trades one set of environmental issues for others. We may not have plastic in the environment, but now we’re cutting down more trees, creating more climate pollution, or using more toxic chemicals. The good news is that consumer brands, beverage, and fast food companies are feeling the pressure from campaigns targeting their role in plastic pollution, overconsumption and waste. Some of these brands and city government leaders have also expressed interest in moving beyond recycling to set up new reuse systems and infrastructure for delivering their products.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Implementation

In order to grow and support reuse systems (one of our primary strategies), our Implementation Team
collaborates with transformational partners'' who have the scale and buying power to transform an entire sector. We work with them to move large-scale/volume anchor sites to reusables, providing model venues for entire companies to mimic and scale. These anchor sites will provide the justification for investment in reuse infrastructure in the communities where they are located, unlocking reusables for the regions food service industry.

The Implementation Team is also leveraging our networks, knowledge of the entire movement and our expertise to catalyze a Wash Hub/Reuse Trade Association to accelerate the build-out of regional wash hubs to serve transformational partners, cities and eventually companies of all sizes across North America.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The Policy team's goal is to cultivate an enabling policy environment for reuse. They serve as a reuse policy expert in conversations in the policy landscape; convene and align stakeholders around local reuse policy principles informed by engagement in our networks and grassroots involvement; work to ensure reuse is included in policy with support for reuse infrastructure embedded in each through funding, economic incentives, and mandatory targets. They also provide support and resources to local reuse advocates via the Reuse Solutions Network and the Government Reuse Forum.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The Social Impact & Communications team works to normalize reuse by using our platforms to demonstrate the positive impacts of reuse, showcase reuse success stories, and make a compelling case for a transition to a new reuse economy. The reuse movement will benefit from more showing than telling. Normalizing reuse also means providing training, resources, and best practices. Building capacity for reuse generates confidence in our society that the new reuse economy is possible.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of list subscribers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Social Impact

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of unique podcast audience members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Social Impact

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of policies formally established

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Policy

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Population impacted by model foodware policies

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Policy

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Policy

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Volunteers for the purpose of this metric include all members of the Government Reuse Forum and the National Reuse Network. The NRN was started in 2019 while the GRF was started in 2020.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

3-year Goal #1: Normalized reuse by influencing the messaging and information in five major news outlets, three major industry convenings as well as showcased 9 model reuse venues across North America, and maintaining high engagement rates across our platforms

3-year Goal #2: Accelerated the scale of reuse by leading our transformational corporate partners in the foodservice and beverage industries through the full change process to take them from disposable to reusable. This guidance will result in model, replicable systems in venues in 9 sectors: public schools, national parks, airports, airplane catering, zoos and aquariums, universities, sports venues, and entertainment venues.

3-year Goal #3: Influence the introduction, passage and rulemaking of 1 federal and 6 state EPR and DRS policies, informed by Upstreams Reuse and Just Transition principles.


Strategy One: Normalize Reuse
Clear, evidence-based, widespread communication about reuse will influence knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that drive a cultural shift toward reuse as the norm.

Strategy Two: Grow & Support Reuse Systems
Theory of Change: Focus on three tipping points where reuse services become a widespread, cross-sectional, intraoperative industry and an everyday utility: support and build capacity for new reuse services; secure funding for infrastructure; and influence the uptake of reuse by transformational partners in key sectors.

Strategy Three: Create an enabling policy environment for reuse
For the reuse economy to scale, policy is needed to level the playing field, compel corporations to participate, and direct funding toward a shared reuse infrastructure.


Upstream is undergoing a transition as the baton was passed from our long-time CEO Matt Prindiville to our current CEO Crystal Dreisbach in 2023. While many of the existing projects remain in place, they are being augmented thanks to Crystals decade-plus hands-on experience pioneering reuse in the Durham, NC region. In some cases, we are developing new offerings such as the new Transformational Team to support the growth of reuse systems.

At our core, we are a lead change agent for the Reuse Movement. Our new logic model framework approaches the work from three high-level strategies supported by three parallel and complementary theories of change. While we will still pivot as necessary based on changes on the ground to remain an innovative thought leader within the movement, we will be true to our north star strategies. We are also intentionally pivoting to an overall approach of quality over quantity to make deep, meaningful change with transformational partners who have the scale and buying power to shift entire sectors. Too often non-profits feel the pressure to produce numbers to ensure funding. While we will always seek to maximize our efficacy as a team, in some cases that may mean lower numbers but longer lasting, impactful change. We feel that is the best way for Upstream to catalyze change and speed up the transition to reuse.

To this end, we are deepening partnerships with collaborative projects and reciprocal advisory relationships with our fellow movement leaders including 5 Gyres, pr3, US Plastics Pact, Perpetual, OPLN, WWF and BFFP to strengthen our work and the movements impact. In addition, as we assess where things are and where they are headed in the policy arena, we are planning for a future focus shift as more actors are entering the local reuse policy work to ensure our limited time is leveraged for the most impact.

We have hired two of the most exceptional thought leaders in the space with Crystal Dreisbach and our Policy Director Sydney Harris who are leading strategy development with Julie Lamy and Vanessa Tiongson. Together, we are fully committed to accelerating the path to a new reuse economy.

Implementation:
We are currently finalizing a contract with a $30B food concessionaire company to serve as their change agent for reuse. This project will involve working with our new Implementation Team to create model reuse venues, interactive roadmaps and site tours for further action within the companyand then sharing those roadmaps with the entire movement.
We are actively working with the second largest POS company for food service companies in North America to add critical infrastructure for the reuse sector.

Policy:
Over the summer, The National Reuse Network expanded to become the Reuse Solutions Network (RSN), to better represent and welcome our growing Canadian contingent. The Government Reuse Forum was folded into the RSN, creating a community of over 900 members and counting (the GRF continues to meet periodically throughout the year in dedicated sessions).
We now support 22 reuse coalitions across the US and Canada, representing a population of over 72M (up from 12 coalitions at the beginning of 2022).
Weve celebrated 16 local policy wins in US & Canada, including Banff, Edmonton, Calgary, Mill Valley, NYC, Culver City, Cupertino, and more. There are currently 95 total active reuse laws in the US and Canada, covering 19.93% of the US/CA population (80M+ people).
With our Policy Directors expertise and leadership in the policy realm, we developed our Principles for Reuse/Refill in Extended Producer Responsibility and Deposit Return Systems two topics gaining momentum in state legislatures nationwide.
Our Policy Director has been actively involved in formulating a US bottle bill, tracking legislation and advocating for reuse provisions. In April, she attended a Bottle Bill lobby day in Washington, DC and shared Upstreams fact sheet with legislators. Through this work, significant multi-stakeholder support has been developed behind-scenes on a national DRS with reuse targets, which Senator Merkleys (D, OR) staff intends to officially introduce in 2024.
Regarding our ongoing work to keep equity, inclusion, and environmental justice top of mind in all we dowe have been attending the monthly US movement-wide BreakFreeFromPlastic calls on a regular basis, and actively participating in the BFFP Zero Waste working group. Our CEO is drafting a Reuse and a Just Transition piece with BIPOC/JEDIA contributors to guide the movement.

Social Impact:
We hosted 3 installments of our popular Indisposable Live webinar series, plus a special Earth Day panel event with the World Wildlife Fund. And, our tentpole event of the year, The Reusies was live streamed on June 7th, from the Circularity Conference in Seattle. We also produced 44 podcasts and 31 blogs. We disseminate our content primarily via our weekly emails, which maintained an average engagement rate of over 40%.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time

Financials

Upstream
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Upstream

Board of directors
as of 01/02/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Marion Hunt

Steve Sherman

David Stitzhal

Lauren Daniluk

Marion Hunt

Jon Hinck

Linda Corrado

Ashley Craig

Rose Stephens-Booker

Daniel Velez

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/2/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Asian/Asian American
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/24/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.