Our registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit produces a monthly newspaper, called a street paper, covering community news, especially Toledo’s many people and organizations making positive change, plus news related to homelessness, poverty, and similar social justice issues. We launched in October 2009 as a program of 1Matters.org, the nonprofit which organizes Toledo’s annual Tent City event. After celebrating our fifth year of operating, we separated amiably from 1Matters to become our own organization. We are part of a global street paper movement of over 110 papers in 35 countries, all with the same goal of giving our communities a program to lift individuals out of poverty through work.
We follow a common model found across the United States. Vendors are self-contracted ‘business owners’ who set their own goals, selling locations and times, while abiding by a code of conduct. They start for free with a temporary badge and 10 papers, then invest 25¢ per paper, selling them for a $1 suggested donation. Vendors keep the difference of the donation and their 25¢ cost of the paper, and use it for a variety of needs, from rent to food to transportation to debts and so on… Sales benchmarks and other incentives allow vendors to earn more free papers or other perks, and vendors are encouraged to attend regular vendor assemblies to help them develop sales, general job, and other relevant skills. These trainings are coordinated by our organization, often in conjunction with other area organizations and businesses. Vendors are frequently asked about their wants and goals to align these trainings with timely needs.
Just as important as the income and personal development from our program is the visibility, dignity, and confidence vendors derive when their customers buy the paper and interact with them. Both regular readers and vendors tell beautiful stories about the relationships they develop with one another.
We rely on the support of individual donors, in-kind gifts, advertising sales, fundraising events, sponsors, and grants to support our work. For more about partnering with us to keep Toledo Streets Newspaper a strong program lifting people out of poverty, visit our Support section.
Our mission: To empower individuals struggling with extreme poverty to participate on a new level in the community through self-employment, job training, and contributorship.