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Participate Learning: Our B Corp Journey

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” – Margaret Mead

Participate Learning is a small group of thoughtful employees committed to improving the world through global education.

As such, we are proud to be a Certified B Corporation (or B Corp) alongside incredible companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Klean Kanteen and thousands more. B Corporations meet the highest standard of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps also aspire to be a force for good to solve social and environmental problems.

So, how did this small group of thoughtful employees make the leap from being an organization committed to doing good to being one of B Corp’s “Best for the World” multiple years running?

The History

Participate Learning first pursued and earned B Corp certification in 2011. Eligibility for B Corp status includes completing a rigorous assessment, meeting legal requirements and working with B Lab to verify and validate responses.

CEO David Young saw parallels between our work as a mission-driven organization and the B Corps mission. The impact areas defined by B Corp standards (governance, workers, community, environment and customers) were already aligned with the organization’s operations and values.

Aligning Forces for Good

Purpose and people have always been equally important at Participate Learning. Our impact on the schools, teachers, students and families in the communities we serve is the reason we exist. For over 30 years, educators have used our language immersion, global education, and cultural exchange teacher programs to create engaging and life-changing learning environments.

Since 2013, we have been a proud B Corp “Best for the World” winner multiple times, scoring in the top 10% of companies across all categories. During B Corp month, we reflect on the five areas in the B Impact Report, and what they mean to Participate Learning.

Governance

Our mission is to ensure equitable and inclusive access to quality education. It is the motivation behind all our work.

In terms of leadership, we have made intentional efforts to bring diverse perspectives and experiences to our board of directors. This diverse board helps to ensure that students and other stakeholders from many backgrounds and experiences have a voice among our leadership.

Workers

At Participate Learning, we strive to hire individuals who want their career to create change and make a difference. We are committed to ensuring employees are paid fairly based on their knowledge, skills, experience, performance, contribution and impact on our organization. One of the important measures of the success of our business is the positive impact we make on our employees.

Community

Community engagement and support is a company priority. All employees receive a paid volunteer day to give back to a cause of their choice. We also organize opportunities to support charities. For example, in fall 2018, the company matched staff donations to organizations and schools for natural disaster relief efforts in North Carolina and Indonesia.

When recruiting for new hires, we promote diversity and inclusion. We prioritize candidates who will enhance our reputation and credibility as educational experts. Many of our employees start as interns, so we’ve been expanding our recruiting efforts to reach diverse campuses and students.

For the last two years, we have taken on B Corp’s Inclusive Economy Challenge. From the B Corp website: “The Inclusive Economy Challenge is a call to action for the community of Certified B Corporations to improve our collective impact and move toward an inclusive economy.”

Read more about our progress on this challenge highlighted in the B the Change publication.

Environment

Our efforts to be mindful of our impact on the surrounding environment are evident at our headquarters in Chapel Hill, NC. We take intentional steps to incorporate green practices into our everyday activities.

Compost bins, recycling bins and reusable kitchenware are easily accessible throughout our office. Staff members conserve energy by using natural light and turning off overhead lights when leaving a room.

Customers

We believe that all students deserve a quality education that challenges them to be active contributors to their communities and our world. Our school model is designed to ensure equitable access to innovative learning environments to promote experiential learning, participatory school culture and collaborative leadership.

Participate teachers report students are:

  • More engaged with learning (66%)
  • More open to investigating global content (70%)
  • Better prepared for an interconnected world (70%)
  • Sensitive to diverse cultures (73%)
  • Initiating investigations of other cultures (66%)

We also see overlap across impact areas. For example, our global curriculum encourages teachers to adopt the UN Sustainable Development Goals into their regular lessons, creating awareness around social and economic development issues such as poverty, education, environment and social justice, in the classroom.

The Growing Movement

B Corp is the standard to help us measure what matters, show our impact and keep improving. We are proud to be a part of the growing movement using business as a force for good across 2700+ companies, 150 industries, 60 countries.

Interested in learning more about working with Participate Learning and being a part of a B Corp? Check out our current job postings. Be sure to follow along on our social accounts all month long for more on our B Corp journey, too!

You can also try following these hashtags on Twitter to stay in-the-know about all things B Corp: #bthechange, #forceforgood, #howiparticipate