A ‘groundswell’ of support for nonprofits

Washougal company GroundSwell turns debit card fees into cash for social, environmental groups

Two local residents with diverse backgrounds and common interests in social and environmental issues are turning debit card banking fees into a way of helping socially conscious nonprofits through their Washougal-based company, GroundSwell.

Daniel Rubano, of Camas, is GroundSwell’s founder and chief executive officer, while Joseph Graves, of Washougal, is a co-founder and chief experience officer at the company.

The business model behind GroundSwell looks something like this: the company creates custom branded Visa debit cards and offers those cards to their supporters. When people use the debit cards, the transaction racks up money for GroundSwell’s nonprofit partners.

“When (our) supporters buy things using the card, the businesses they shop at have to pay a fee to accept the card payment,” Graves explained. “We share that payment with the nonprofits.”

The GroundSwell program currently works with Metropolitan Commercial Bank, of New York, and three nonprofits — LEAD (Leadership Education and Development), an Atlanta-based organization with a mission of helping youth develop into high achievers and responsible leaders; Life after Hate, a Chicago organization that helps people leave extremist hate groups; and Prospera, an Oakland, California-based organization that partners with low-income Latina entrepreneurs to build collectively owned businesses.

Rubano and Graves hope to expand the company’s network to help Camas and Washougal nonprofits, particularly organizations with avid supporters in areas such as education.

The two men met in 2016 while training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Universal Mixed Martial Arts, in downtown Camas.

Rubano is a former vice-president of EndlessOne Global Inc., a payment card issuer, processor and banking software company in Los Angeles.

While practicing as a podiatric physician and surgeon in Beverly Hills, California, Rubano developed a love and passion for alternative eastern and naturopathic medicine. That led Rubano and his family to move to Nicaragua, where he and his wife, Geri, founded, built and operated Aqua Wellness Resort, a treehouse eco-lodge.

Rubano said his time in Nicaragua shaped and directed him to create GroundSwell.

“Maybe the most important thing had to do with community and our part in growing and supporting it — not only social but environmental imperatives around it,” Rubano said. “GroundSwell, at its core, is focused on supporting organizations dedicated to improving life, and that was a lot of what we were doing in Nicaragua.”

Graves is a co-founder of SnapLaces, a Washougal company that offers an alternative to tying shoelaces, and co-owns Workshed Interactive, a Washougal business that provides website design and development services.

GroundSwell is located in Washougal Town Square, at 1700 Main St., Ste. 203. For more information, call 360-218-7070, email hello@groundswellworld.com or visit groundswellworld.com. For more information about the nonprofits currently working with GroundSwell, visit leadprogram.org, lifeafterhate.org or prosperacoops.org.