In August 2016, Breadcoin Began to Circulate in DC
Breadcoin continues to expand to more neighborhoods and new cities. Each year, we discover new and innovative ways for the community to come together around food. Last year, nonprofits used Breadcoins to create mobile food events in underserved communities. Schools use Breadcoins to provide food for their students and their families during school breaks.
A Brief History of Breadcoin
Breadcoin was born when Scott Borger, a Ph.D. economist, conceived of it in the aftermath of the financial crisis. From the depths of that crisis, when nonprofits and governments had to cut their budgets, few resources were available to the most marginalized in our society even though the need for assistance was growing exponentially. There was a need for new and innovative ideas that could provide resources to those who were feeding and sustaining their communities, shoring up systems and expectations for potential further upheavals. In 2011, Scott first conceived of a alternative payment system backed by assets in the community.
We minted additional coins in 2017, at which time Breadcoins were made available for purchase online. In 2017, William Spence joined the all-volunteer Breadcoin team to expand the use of the token throughout DC. During 2017, Breadcoin organized as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the founding board consisting of Scott Borger, Cary Umhau, William Spence, and Greg Ewing. The nonprofit status demonstrates to the community that the token is for the community’s benefit.
In 2014, Scott Borger and Cary Umhau had discussions about how to feed the community. Scott believed handing out sandwiches weren’t dignifying to the individual. From that conversation, Scott and Cary began hosting tables in parks in the community where all were welcome at beautifully set tables. From these table events, in 2015 Borger imagined a community meal token and then arrived at the name “Breadcoin” to acknowledge a store of value and because “bread” would represent its basic unit of account. The physical token was designed by Ben Kolesar in 2015.
2018 and 2019 saw additional growth, media coverage, and the inception of a membership model whereby donors who give on a monthly recurring basis fund the coins that are distributed by neighborhood teams tasked with building relationships with vendors and nonprofits in geographical areas so that people can be linked, efficient, and mutually encouraging.
In 2016, our first vendor was Mission Muffins, a “ready to work” program of the Central Union Mission homeless shelter, located near Union Station in Washington, DC. Soon thereafter we began steadily moving into additional neighborhoods.
Early participants in the Breadcoin project purchased a food trailer which was leased to the Central Union Mission for use by Mission Muffins, substantially increasing their four-season capacity and product-line capabilities.
That lease was paid back with interest, in three years, in Breadcoins to the investors who then gave again to individuals and nonprofits, ensuring more people were fed.
Breadcoin grew exponentially during the pandemic. At the beginning of 2020, Breadcoin had 11 participating vendors. By the end of 2021, Breadcoin launched in a new city – Baltimore – and grew the number of participating vendors to 70 in early 2022, Breadcoin expanded to a new city – Harrisburg, PA – to extend the program into smaller cities and rural communities. We’ve received requests from across the country to expand into various cities and towns. As we expand our capacity, we will do exactly that.
Cary Umhau became our first Executive Director in October of 2022. Scott Borger continues in roles of Finance and Technology.
We bring the community around a common table.
We all enjoy a gathering around a table with family or friends. It is often the highlight of our week or our month. At Breadcoin, we are committed to making sure everyone has a seat at the table. Let us introduce you to the team that is working to make it happen.
Breadcoin is Committed to Financial Transparency and Accountability
Breadcoin is a new way to give to those in need using a physical token to include everyone. We believe we can change philanthropic giving with a digital token that will allow donors to see exactly where donated funds are used in the community. Until then, we will provide as much detail about our financials as possible.