Community Solutions Incubator Spotlight: CCES

Back-to-school ushers in a season of cleaning, organizing and purging for many households. Not sure where to dispose of hazardous waste or hard-to-recycle items like electronics, tires, papers and books?

Champaign County Environmental Stewards (CCES), is your go-to solution! An all-volunteer nonprofit organization established in 2019, CCES supports the ability of area citizens to responsibly manage materials by advancing improved options for recycling, composting food scraps, and the safe and convenient disposal of household hazardous waste.

CFECI spoke with CCES Founder, Susan Monte, to learn more about her work to foster local solutions for waste reduction and how she has benefited through participation in the Community Solutions Incubator.

CCES Founder, Susan Monte

While serving as Champaign County Recycling Coordinator, Susan Monte, received grant funds to explore how to improve household hazardous waste collection options for east central Illinois. Susan formed a household hazardous waste leadership team comprised of agency representatives, interested parties, and local experts that met for two years, from 2017 to 2018, and ultimately recommended that a nonprofit organization be formed to effectively address this community need. The team helped develop a mission statement and came up with the organization name “Champaign County Environmental Stewards” and the early tagline “reducing pollution through material management solutions.” Beginning in 2019, Susan started recruiting CCES board members and a slate of officers, and by April 2019, CCES was officially formed.

Early on, Susan was referred to Rebecca McBride who shared plans about the newly formed Community Solutions Incubator at the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois, supporting new and emerging nonprofit organizations. The Community Solutions Incubator helped CCES with easy access to educational sessions about the basics of starting a nonprofit organization, and it facilitated connections with area professionals (business, accounting, marketing, fundraising, resources) that provided expert advice and guidance as CCES was getting established. Susan states, “The Community Solutions Incubator has provided the knowledge and support that made forming and operating CCES possible!”

CCES Residential Tire Collection at C-U Public Health District Collection site on 8/5/2022

Exciting plans are on the horizon as CCES grows and develops. Earlier this year, CCES was allocated Champaign County American Rescue Plan Act funds from the Champaign County Board to establish a regional household hazardous waste collection facility in Champaign County. CCES is now forming a study leadership team to work with capital campaign consulting firm, Pratapas Associates, LLC, to conduct an Internal Assessment and Feasibility Study this fall, as the initial step necessary prior to launching a successful campaign fundraising initiative to support establishing a household hazardous waste collection facility.

Interested in getting involved with CCES? Here are ways you can support their efforts:

  • CCES is recruiting volunteers to serve on its Board of Directors. Visit the CCES website homepage and click ‘Contact’ to express interest or to make a referral.
  • Visit the CCES website to sign up for the CCES Newsletter and to learn about upcoming local residential collection events.
  • CCES welcomes tax-deductible donations that can be used to help provide safe and convenient options in Champaign County for potentially problematic household materials at the end of their useful life. It’s simple to make an online donation at the CCES website. Every dollar counts!