Our Mission

Materials for the Future Foundation (MFF) provides a bridge between the environmental and community economic development fields, believing that a sustainable economy is built upon the efficient reuse and recycling of materials and community-based enterprise/business development. Since its establishment, MFF has brought together policy-makers and practitioners in both fields to create new synergistic and sustainable benefits for disadvantaged communities. We accomplish our goals through grant-making, operation of a loan fund, provision of business development and technical assistance, referral services, community education, specific projects and awareness of opportunities in recovered materials enterprise creation.
Our mission is to support community-based initiatives that integrate the environmental goals of resource conservation through waste prevention, reuse, and recycling with the economic development goals of job creation/retention, enterprise development, and local empowerment. Our work focuses on low-income communities, communities of color, and areas of high worker displacement, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.

MFF limits the issues it addresses to those with clear connections to recycling-based community economic development, specifically enterprise development. For example, MFF works on “buy recycled” issues only when they directly support specific community enterprises. Regranting funds remains important, not as an end in itself, but rather as one of several tools we use to support community development.


In Early 1991, several foundation representatives, policy makers, and recycling and community developent advocates in the San Francisco Bay Area convened a meeting to address a common concern about the wide and unnecessary gap between the environmental and community economic development movements. Their goal was to develop concrete local strategies to promote collaboration between the two fields. Consequently, out of this meeting, the Regional Roundtable on Recycling and Community Economic Development, Materials for the Future Foundation was created as a project of the Tides Foundation in the summer of 1992.

MFF incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) organization in the summer of 1994. MFF’s programs and projects were divided into two main categories: RECLAIM, the Recycling Enterprise Center for Lending, Assistance, Information, and Markets, and PREP, the Policy, Research, and Education Program. MFF’s priorities centered on enterprise development, direct business and technical assistance, and research, while general policy development, advocacy, and outreach became secondary.