Our Story

The Forest Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in Durham, NC that aims to comprehensively improve relationships among people and our planet. With our big picture vision, we strive to achieve self-sustaining local impacts that preserve and generate natural capital. Since 2001, The Forest Foundation (TFF) was formed to assist Forests of the World in environmental education and training, focusing on micro-enterprise and sustainable handicraft development in areas of high biodiversity, places like Madagascar.  It has since fostered innovative models for development, both here and abroad, assisting the launch of numerous businesses dedicated to service, understanding and promoting  the role the natural world plays in our daily lives.

Currently, TFF has come to focus its energy upon community-based, sustainable economic development, training and environmental education, and green business incubation. Our activities include coordinating an annual environmental awareness effort at the State Fair (The Green Booth), administering a green jobs training program (Green Tracks), serving as a sustainability resource for local students, teachers, and conferences, and supporting the local ecosystem of environmental nonprofits and mission-driven green businesses.

Central to our work is the Green Oil and Light (GOAL) Model. The GOAL Model is a hybrid operations strategy ideal for nurturing innovative, highly resilient, market-based and self-sufficient enterprises. The GOAL Model teams The Forest Foundation with Limited Liability Companies incubated and partially owned by the 501(c) (3). Partial ownership of businesses by TFF allows the businesses creates a network of stability and flexibility in the difficult work of competing in a world where the value of environmental protection is external to the marketplace; and provides The Foundation with long-term self-sufficiency, avoiding the constant need for fundraising and grant writing.

The GOAL Model has demonstrated the efficacy of local, distributed, alternative energy production– biodiesel made from waste, processed into fuel and value-added into green transportation. Each separate business, linked together, sharing overhead, and reducing costs, creates a closed-loop, distributed waste-to-fuel-to-transportation model with significant economic multipliers and built in resiliency.

Green Oil Company, LLC collects waste vegetable oil from local restaurants and separates it from food waste and water. The food waste and water are composted to create soil used in local gardening and soil remediation of the GOAL site, an old Brownfield petroleum distribution operation. Waste oil is either locally processed into biodiesel by the GOAL partner, Carolina Biodiesel, LLC,  or sold to a larger manufacturer that has economies of scale and can absorb the costs and risks of subsidy. The biodiesel fuels a fleet of buses owned by another GOAL partner, Greenway Transit Services, LLC, a full-service green transportation company serving the Triangle Area.

Along the way, our non-profit manages our site in East Durham, operates a green job training program called Green Tracks, facilitates tours and activism, promotes the local ecosystem of environmental nonprofits and small green businesses, and seeks additional funding for supportive programming.

Community benefits of the model include: Brownfield site remediation, significantly reduced air pollution, carbon emissions and waste, and economic activity that keeps money flowing to workers, businesses and the communities in the region, building a new paradigm for a more sustainable and just future.