Soles4Souls and Bank of America Drive Change in the Dominican Republic

Bunch sneakers and shoes in a pile

Nearly 300 million pairs of shoes are discarded annually in the United States alone. (Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash)

by | May 24, 2024

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The nonprofit organization Soles4Souls has recently been awarded a $150,000 grant from Bank of America to facilitate the expansion of its 4Opportunity program into the Dominican Republic. This program is renowned for creating sustainable jobs, providing economic relief, and contributing to environmental protection through the global redistribution of shoes and clothing.

Sustainable Economic Development through Entrepreneurship

Since its inception in 2008, 4Opportunity has been instrumental in empowering economically disadvantaged communities, particularly in regions with limited market access. The program supports individuals in low-income countries by providing a continuous supply of high-quality, low-cost footwear and apparel, enabling them to establish and sustain small businesses as resellers of these goods. This initiative enhances the economic status of women, who often face significant barriers to economic participation. According to Soles4Souls, participants in the 4Opportunity program have reported a more than 200% increase in household income, significantly elevating them above the international poverty line.

Environmental Benefits of Reducing Waste

In addition to its economic advantages, the 4Opportunity program plays a crucial role in environmental conservation by extending the life of footwear and apparel. Nearly 300 million pairs of shoes are discarded annually in the United States alone. This contributes to the approximately 21 billion pounds of textile waste that burdens landfills and incineration facilities, generating considerable carbon emissions and water wastage. By redirecting these items from becoming waste, Soles4Souls prevents environmental damage and reduces the carbon impact per wear of each item. Since 2006, the organization has successfully diverted 91 million pounds of shoes and clothing from landfills across 34 countries and various U.S. territories.

Corporate Partnerships and Community Engagement

Bank of America has been a steadfast partner of Soles4Souls since 2017, with a collaboration including financial support and active participation in initiatives such as company-wide shoe drives to collect shoes that will be redirected to support the 4Opportunity program.

The commitment from Bank of America and the expansion of Soles4Souls’ initiatives are expected to deliver significant, measurable impacts on the communities in the Dominican Republic, echoing the success seen in other regions such as Haiti.

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