Center for Ecotechnology: Top Honor & Funding Opportunity

Center for EcoTechnology Receives the Top Honor and $300,000 Funding Opportunity



ANNAPOLIS, November 1, 2017 – The Rathmann Family Foundation is pleased to award the Top Honor of the 2017 Rathmann Challenge, Mitigating Climate Change: Expanding the Use of Compost, to the Center for EcoTechnology, Pittsfield, MA. The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) is recognized for its outstanding work over the past 20 years in expanding the use of compost to support its mission of reducing waste and growing the use of sustainable practices. CET established the highly successful Massachusetts RecyclingWorks program and has operated RecyclingWorks on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection since the program’s inception in 2011. CET recognized that many sectors were involved to make RecyclingWorks effective and allow the new marketplace to function and thrive. Incorporating waste producers, haulers, composters, and farmers into the project required a variety of strategies including outreach, education, and high quality technical assistance. CET developed an organization capable of delivering these services across the marketplace. In 2014, working with MassDEP, CET’s efforts paved the way to implementing one of the first state-wide food waste bans in the United States, banning landfill disposal of organic waste by large scale producers. To date, CET has facilitated an expansion of compost production by roughly 25,000 tons annually. As the recipient of the Top Honor, CET is recognized both for its remarkable past accomplishments as well as the ability to make an even bigger impact beyond Massachusetts to the entire Northeast and the rest of the United States.

The Rathmann Family Foundation also recognizes the following four organizations as Honorable Mentions in the 2017 Rathmann Challenge:

  • Huerta del Valle: Huerta del Valle, Ontario, CA, is recognized for using compost as a central principle in its work to bring healthy food sources to low income and food insecure communities. Huerta has a deep understanding that healthy food is a social justice issue. By creating locally-based access to healthy food, Huerta helps people lead sustainable lives within a supportive community of friends and neighbors. The Huerta community garden and urban farm site is an Eden in the middle of a city. Compost, as homegrown nourishment for the lands that produce the food, is at the heart of Huerta’s goal to be a replicable model and an inspiration to others.
  • Spotsylvania County: Spotsylvania County, Spotsylvania, VA, is recognized for the construction of a large-scale composting operation that converts the biosolids produced by the Massaponax Wastewater Treatment plant to high quality compost. The County’s strategic view of the economics of composting versus the costs of the standard method of biosolid disposal led the way for the construction and deployment in 2010 of a $15 million aerated static pile composting operation to process the biosolids produced by the plant. In addition to having a profound effect on the environment, this composting knowledge provides the foundation for new efforts in the County to target organic waste diversion.
  • University of Arizona Compost Cats: Compost Cats, Tucson, AZ, a student run organization, is recognized for elevating organic waste diversion and composting into a Tucson-wide phenomenon via collaborations with the City of Tucson, the San Xavier Co-op Farm/Tohono O’odham Nation, and over 70 businesses. Compost Cats’ goal is to extend its reach in partnership with the Santa Cruz County Government and the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas to divert 6 thousand tons of organic waste annually from the county landfill to compost. This waste results from the over 2 million tons of produce that cross the US-Mexico border at the Nogales Food port in Santa Cruz County.
  • University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point: University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (UW-SP) is recognized for its College of Natural Resources (CNR) and the activities of the Soil and Waste Resources Discipline and the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (WIST) both contained within CNR. The Soil and Waste Resources Discipline offers hands-on education in soil, compost, and waste management technologies and WIST develops innovative curricula, technologies, and products that promote efficient resource use. UW-SP is located near the Central Sands region of Wisconsin, one of the largest vegetable producing regions in the world. WIST has the goal of facilitating a large scale expansion of the use of compost in the Central Sands.

“The Rathmann Family Foundation is honored that so many high quality organizations participated in the 2017 Challenge. After the extensive evaluation process, we are very pleased to bring attention to the accomplishments of five organizations, all of which are doing outstanding work in expanding the use of compost in the United States,” said Rick Rathmann, Executive Director of the Rathmann Family Foundation.

About the Rathmann Challenge

The program engages organizations with a proven track record, forward thinking ideas and a willingness to challenge themselves and their professional colleagues to come up with a better solution. The Rathmann Challenge seeks applicants possessing the creativity, entrepreneurial ethos, and innovative spirit to make a positive difference in the world through their directed passion, new ideas, and energy.  The Rathmann Challenge Top Honoree receives $100,000 for its past outstanding work and the exclusive invitation to apply for an Even Bigger Idea® grant of $200,000.

The 2019 Rathmann Challenge funding focus is currently under development.

The Rathmann Challenge,, is a program of the Rathmann Innovation Center,, which is administered by the Rathmann Family Foundation.

About the Rathmann Family Foundation

Since its inception in 1991, the Rathmann Family Foundation has had the great privilege of providing grants to several hundred qualified organizations with programs in the United States and on occasion in other parts of the world. The Rathmann Family Foundation, , seeks to leverage the talents, experience, and passion of its members and the communities in which they live by funding those displaying the desire, skill, and energy to make a difference in the world around them.

Media Contact:
Mr. Rick Rathmann
Executive Director
The Rathmann Family Foundation