Handmade in the USA

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In honor of the July 4th holiday, we’ve chosen a selection of our Handmade in the USA products that we think you’ll love! These Green+™ items are smart choices that help your company enhance its corporate social responsibility footprint and encourage recipients to celebrate all that our great country represents. There’s no better way to celebrate the birth of our nation than with 4th of July promotions and incentives!

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Mahogany Octagon 12″ Quartz Clock

This elegant mahogany octagon hardwood clock features a white dial with Roman numerals and glass crystal with bezel. The Chicago Lighthouse is a non-profit agency committed to helping the blind and visually impaired. Fair Wage, Green, Made in the USA. Retail: $74.45


BE-2VOTVotive Gift Set Duo

Our votive gift set is like scented fireworks for your home. Each gift set contains two glass votive soy candles in Vanilla Honey and Aloe Lily. Fair Wage, Green, Made in the USA. Retail: $13.00

RX-BOTTLEBottle Opener

Sure to become the most useful tool in your home. Made in Chicago from stainless steel and reclaimed lumber destined for the landfill. Fair Wage, Green, Made in the USA. Retail: $25.00


GB-BROWN8Gourmet 8-Piece Brownie Box

Pack eight times the happiness with this 8-piece box of gourmet brownies.  Choose from Brown Sugar Blondie, Chocolate Fudge, Walnut Fudge, or Assorted. Fair Wage, Made in the USA. Retail: $25.00


Jam Trio

Three favorite preserves in one fabulous gift assortment. A small wooden box arrives with blueberry, strawberry, and red raspberry preserves. Fair Wage, Made in the USA. Retail: $25.00

Helping Hand Rewards Newsletter – April 2012

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 Welcome to the April issue of the Helping Hand Rewards Newsletter! 

Our newsletter brings you the latest information from Helping Hand Rewards and our socially responsible partners.

This issue includes:

  • New Partner Spotlight: Comfort the Children (CTC) International
  • Greyston Bakery In the News
  • Eco-Friendly Products for Earth Day
  • Case Study From Marriott/Renaissance Hotels 

Click here for the current issue.

Will you be coming to Chicago for the ASI Show in July? If so, be sure to visit us at booth #2219.

Greyston Bakery Featured on Good Morning America

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This morning, one of our own partners got a national shout-out thanks to the people at Good Morning America.

As part of their “Countdown to Christmas” series, the theme for today was gifts that gave back. Each set of items featured products whose sales ultimately contributed to either a charity or other social good initiative. What was the first set of products shown in the segment? Do-Goodie brownies from our friends at Greyston Bakery.

The segment explains how Greyston Bakery doesn’t hire people to bake brownies but instead bake brownies to hire people. Greyston employs homeless, recently incarcerated or other impoverished individuals to help make the brownies in their factory. This business model uses the profits to help teach theses individuals job and life skills in order that they may experience a more sustainable lifestyle.

Want to see the Good Morning America clip? Click here or simply follow the link below for the full segment!


Edible Incentives? Yes, Please.

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Brownie from Greyston Bakery
Brownie from Greyston Bakery


Yesterday Hinda Incentives posted an article on their blog yesterday talking about using food as a way to engage and motivate employees. How does concept apply to social responsibility?

Greyston Bakery. WHOWomen. That’s how.

Both Greyston and WHOWomen offer assortments of baked goods that would engage just about any employee. If you’re familiar with any Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream with fudge in it, then you are familiar with Greyston Bakery. Greyston Bakery employ’s individuals who are homeless, recently incarcerated or other at-risk individuals to work in their brownie factory. The profits generated from brownie sales go towards community development projects such as housing, job training and education.

WHOWomen (Women Helping Other Women) is another social enterprise that hires women who find themselves in difficult situations (particularly individuals who’ve sought refuge in domestic abuse centers). They offer employment, education and job training to women by producing cakes and using the profits to help the women and also help with the Mountain Opportunity Center (an organization that provides employment for developmentally disabled adults). WHOWomen’s main goal is to serve as a catalyst by offering help and hope to these women along their way back to a

Cake from WHOWomen

productive life.

The bottom line is this: using food, you could help boost engagement and morale around your office. What better way to boost morale than to use food that ultimately helps better a life somewhere else?

Plus, who can say no to brownies and cake?

Greyston Bakery featured on Business Week

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Many of our social enterprises made a name for themselves before we even began to partner with them. Greyston Bakery is a prime example of this, quoted in a Business Week story as being “one of the prime examples of social entrepreneurship.” The bakery is most well-known for making fudge brownies that go into Ben and Jerry’s ice creams.

The story focuses on the social mission of the bakery while the CEO enforces the fact that it is still a business and needs to make profits. Greyston Bakery is one example of a social enterprise that helps better lives of those less fortunate but still make money at the same time. They pride themselves as being a model for other businesses on how they could use business to make a difference.

To see the clip, click on this link here. It’s pretty short and shows a few short success stories of people who received employment from Greyston Bakery.

Learn more about Greyston and our other social enterprise partners at helpinghandrewards.org

Ending the Prison Cycle with Social Enterprises

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Social enterprises

After an individual has paid their debt to society, all there’s left to do is get a job and get on with life, right? Sounds easy enough.

Then how come so many people who’ve been to prison once keep going back?

Some may be surprised by this but as it turns out around 60% of employers, upon initial consideration would not hire an individual released from prison or jail. This doesn’t bode well for recent inmates in a time when even those with college degrees and unscathed backgrounds are having trouble finding employment. In California, between 60-80% of parolees were still unemployed after a release from prison and over 89% of parole violators were unemployed at the time. Just in California the annual cost of re-incarcerating individuals on parole is around $2 billion. Not million, BILLION. That’s a solid chunk of change to have to do something over again. Reincarcerating individuals is costing us all a lot of money. It seems to me that employment would solve a lot of these problems and cut costs. But where to begin?

This is where social enterprises come in. Several social enterprises will focus on hiring those who have recently come out of incarceration, teach them job and some life skills during employment, so eventually they will become more “hire-able” to other employers, ultimately be able to create more sustainable lives for themselves and break the prison cycle. The state of New York is a big proponent of this, using social enterprises to cut down the number of inmates by 9,000 over the last ten years and cutting re-incarceration rates by 40% (while inmate populations in most other states continue to increase).

Helping Hand Rewards partner The Enterprising Kitchen (TEK) is a social enterprise with the same sort of mission as the ones mentioned above. They give recently incarcerated women employment opportunities while teaching them job/life skills and producing high quality soap and spa products along the way.

Among individuals interviewed two years after hire into a social enterprise, 74% were working and 12 percent more were in vocational education. Just as many people have stayed out of jail through social enterprise employment as people going back into prison while being unemployed. Corporations and individuals can support these causes by doing business with these different social enterprises. For example, an individual can purchase soap and spa products from a company like TEK, brownies from Greyston Bakery, or even eco-friendly candles from Bright Endeavors. Corporations can use these social enterprise groups when assembling corporate gifts to clients and/or employees. Most of these types of items are purchased normally, why not do it and help someone in need along the way?

Doing business with these companies and supporting their efforts keeps everything growing and helps break this costly prison cycle. Can you think of any social enterprises like these in your area?

Ben and Jerry’s: Socially Responsible Ice Cream

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Chocolate Fudge BrownieIt was announced this past week that Ben and Jerry’s will be adding operations down under and opening a new flagship Scoop Shop in Sydney Australia. This is good news for Australians who have posted Facebook groups demanding a supply of Ben and Jerry’s in their country. The arrival of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream also is welcome news to disadvataged youth living near the coming Scoop Shop in Sydney. Sticking to their traditional business model, Ben and Jerry’s plans to give back to the local community by partnering with Mission Australia to employ local disadvantaged youth in their flagship Scoop Shop.

This is not the only socially responsible partnership that Ben and Jerry’s is part of.

Greyston Bakery (a Helping Hands Rewards partner) has long been the producer of brownies used in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors such as Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Half Baked, and Dave’s Magic Brownies. Since 1988, the production of brownies used in their ice cream has helped several thousand lives turn around.

The mission of Greyston is to provide employment and support services to former homeless, low-income and disenfranchised people and their families. To hire and train those who otherwise might not ever find a job. Also to get them on the path out of poverty and on to self-sufficiency. So far this has worked well with over 2,000 lives a year being affected by the good coming out of the bakery. This idea has even captured the attention of national media, with the Today show featuring a news clip about Greyston Bakery.

The slogan of Greyston is simple yet powerful: “We don’t hire people to bake brownies. We bake brownies to hire people.”

What is your company doing for people?