Project Repat: Alumni Social Enterprise

In this post EverTrue is proud to highlight a startup of social enterprise called Project Repat. Project Repat upcycles excess t-shirts into fun, fashionable, and functional products while creating fair wage employment opportunities. This post comes from their President, Nathan Rothstein.

When I graduated from Umass-Amherst in 2006, I joined AmeriCorps and did a year of service in New Orleans. I was from far the Pioneer Valley, but the Umass alumni network still kicked in. There was a fellow alum working for the same non-profit, and a few other recent Umass grads joined AmeriCorps over the next year, and after seeing my name in the paper, a retired University of New Orleans professor invited a few young Umass alumni for brunch at Commander’s Palace. When students from Umass came to New Orleans to do service work, we helped them find places to work and people to meet with to learn about the different challenges and opportunities in post-Katrina New Orleans. Over the next few years, more students came for alternative spring break, and as more networking opportunities became available to newcomers, more Umass students moved to the city.

When you go to a large school like Umass you learn how to interact with diverse groups of people and navigate your way through the bureaucracy of a large institution. Like being in a new city without a familiar network, arriving at a school with over 20,000 students can be daunting, but it is those personal connections that you develop that help you find your way and make it easier to adapt to new and challenging situations.

In a competitive job market, where more college graduates find themselves out of work than ever before, developing those personal connections through your alumni network become even more useful. A company like EverTrue that helps a community of alumni rehash old connections and make new ones is vital, and at Repat, we want to become a complement to the networking opportunities that EverTrue provides.

Each year for reunion, colleges spend millions of dollars on apparel and gifts that are given out to alumni that attend the event- but what if those gifts could help spark conversation, re-live memories, and create jobs in the USA?

We are launching a program for reunion committees to use bags made from their school-themed second-hand t-shirts as the gift for each attendee. All of our bags are made at a worker-owned cut and sew enterprise in Morganton, NC where the employees are making a fair and living wage, and every bag produced is equal to one hour of fair wage work in the US. While the bags are made with, for example all UMass t-shirts, each one is unique. Imagine a reunion where everyone is walking around with a durable double-layered t-shirt bag that are made in the USA. The bags also provide a quick way to begin a conversation, and can spark further conversation and memories based on the t-shirts on each bag. We can then give a figure to your class about the number of fair wage hours of work you created by making this purchase and the number of t-shirts you prevented from being dumped in landfills. At the end of the day, we want you to help create a unique reunion experience that stands out, and make a strong economic impact with your purchase.

If you are interested in learning more, you can email me at

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