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Organizations: ToolBank USA

 

Think of ToolBank USA as that handy, resourceful neighbor who strides across the lawn just in time to lend the hammer and nails crucial to a project in construction, renovation and revitalization.

The organization, based near Turner Field in Atlanta, functions as the “nonprofit’s nonprofit,” a giant warehouse of more than 150 kinds of tools, including pliers, paint and paintbrushes, shovels, extension ladders, drills, work gloves, electric generators and other re-sources, which community and civic groups can borrow for a small fee.

“We help philanthropic organizations maximize their impact because they don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of expensive equipment – they can put that money to other uses,” says Mark Brodbeck, CEO. “The result is that nonprofits feel encouraged and prepared to think bigger and tackle more ambitious projects.”

The group started in 1991 as part of a small, home-repair organization, and it since has equipped more than 400,000 workers; last year in Atlanta, 25,000 volunteers used more than $500,000 in tools to assist in work for public schools, places of worship, neighborhood playgrounds, residential treatment programs, environmental clean-up, senior facilities and other charitable enterprises.

Businesses such as Black & Decker furnish tools and financial support, and a 2009 grant from The Home Depot enabled ToolBank to add “USA” to its moniker because it quickly expanded to Charlotte, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Portland, Ore., with plans to set up shop eventually in at least 150 cities. 

“In the wake of Hurri-cane Sandy, we are developing strategies for helping areas hit by natural disasters, as well,” Brodbeck says. “We didn’t invent tool lending in Atlanta, but we formalized it, and now we’re going national.”

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