Victoria Chames_1's blog

Leveraging Technology for Social and Environmental Impact with Geunbae

In this blog series we are profiling our Net Impact Fellows; from impact design to healthy food, our fellows in this year-long leadership development program are working to better their campuses and their communities. 

Meet Geunbae

Geunbae Lee is an Impact Design Fellow activating around human-computer interaction. He, along with his team members Jayanth Mohana Krishna, Jessica Tsui, and Nishant Panchal are working on a project focused on home automation. They are creating a web platform for people to manage their connected devices through the Internet of Things. This project will reduce energy by helping people tailor their energy use to exact needs and will impact the old or disabled who run physical risks by forgetting to turn off stoves or feeling for switches in the dark. 

Learn more about his journey to designing for impact:

Why did you first decide to take action around impact design?

The reason I got into HCI and UX is because I wanted to make change in my community. Most of my previous and current projects revolve around trying to create a better user experience and to discover potential solutions that are far better than the ones that currently exist. I believe that the moment I put my feet forward into this field, I start to make an impact to the community and to individuals who value the products I shape. I thought applying for the Impact Design Fellowship was the next step for me. 

How did you know this was the right project for you to work on?

Frankly, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong projects to begin with as long as there’s purpose and problems that we want to tackle. I think it’s very important to have a clearly defined area and topic that the team is going for because without it, it’s like sailing a boat without a compass in your hands. In order for me and my teammates to figure out what kind of impact we should make in the community, we went through numerous brainstorming and team meeting sessions which helped out a lot. 

What do you think is the most critical issue facing the world today?

One of the critical issues I’ve personally discovered is cultural issues. There are cultural discriminations and gaps between the people in the community which are some of the issues that I’m very interested in solving. As an international student growing up in Canada, South Korea, and the United States I’ve experienced these problems, which led me to become more thoughtful about the issues. 

What advice would you give to someone launching their own project at school?

This really depends on what kind of project you and your most focused team members are trying to accomplish. For me, I initially wanted to make a project with 4 people in my team who could really focus and craft a good solution. To be honest, it made us stronger, more united, and definitely helped us to focus on each of our tasks as a team. I recommend to people looking to launch a project to first find out what kind of project they want to do. As you and your initial members brainstorm, you will definitely see what you need, who you will need, and why.

If you were given an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?

If I was given an extra hour every day, I would write blogs about my experience in the design world and spread my knowledge to others who are working hard like I am. I often write on Medium and so far I’ve gotten great feedback from students and designers all over the world. Writing is something that I don't feel confident with because English is my second language, but I believe it’s an important skill to have. By practicing through writing blog posts, it will help me get to know more people and help for my own career development. 

Learn more about the Net Impact Fellowships, our four cohorts - Impact Design, Criminal Justice, Healthy Food, and Racial Equity - and all of our amazing fellows here. Or head to Geunbae's website to learn more about his project.

Net Impact Fellow, Geunbae Lee discusses his passion for impact design.
Net Impact Fellow, Geunbae Lee discusses his passion for impact design.

The Power of Blogging to Open Racial Conversations to Business School Culture

Charlie James is a 2016-2017 Net Impact Fellow and a student at Haas School of Business. He is a part of the Racial Equity cohort. Read on to learn how he is using social media and blogging to challenge how business schools address racial equity. 

Diversity is often mistaken for racial equity, especially in most business schools. Diversity resides in representation of people of various backgrounds. While diversity is important, it is surface level. Racial equity calls forth reparations to unequal beginnings through not only representation but also social, political, legal, moral, economic, and cultural rectification. Racial equity runs deep as it necessitates a change of thinking and acting to nurture an inclusive culture for people from all racial backgrounds where conversations on race are not neglected but encouraged.

However, before we can begin to address the misunderstanding of racial equity as diversity, it’s important to begin conversations on race, which are hard to come by at most business schools. They are especially hard to initiate. It is for this reason that I began a blog series aimed at opening the culture of my business school, the Haas School of Business, to conversations on race. While the end goal runs much deeper in developing a social justice consciousness that includes more identities than only race to inform actions and decisions, talking about race honestly and openly is a start.

To maximize the impact, I joined forces with another Net Impact Racial Equity Fellow, Alankrita Dayal, and a fellow Haas student dedicated to our mission, Naayl Kazmi. We began a blog series called Racial Equity@Haas, which we were able to publish through the Haas Undergraduate Student Blog. 

Collectively, we created a game plan to interview the professors of core classes Haas students are required to take in order to illuminate the professors views on racial equity; we thought students would be more prone to read interviews from people in power they already know, core professors. However, only a few professors agreed to undergo interviews, leaving our plan at a loss. In recovery, we opened up the blog series to hold interviews of anyone in the Haas community as to shed light on the diverse perspectives of community members, students, staff, professors, and even the dean, on how racial equity is perceived at Haas.

We’ve since interviewed two professors, two students, and the Dean of Haas. Much of the learning – I was surprised – came to me during interviewing the different community members. The Dean illuminated how the history of Haas has shifted to being more diverse over the years, and an interview with one of the professors by Naayl revealed the impact of Proposition 209, which nullified affirmative action on few of the already few Haas students of color at the time. Seeing the school from a historical perspective, there was much improvement in fact. Still, race is not something openly talked about, is hard to talk about, and often triggers students to change the topic.

I remember engaging students on conversations on race and having them look the other way, change the topic almost immediately, or even look at me as though I’m racist for even talking about race. While these reactions will persist among certain groups, there are students who encourage me to continue. 

I share all the blog posts we make on Facebook while tagging members of the blog in them and my small team of Naayl and Alankrita to reach a larger audience, and there has been thankful, empowering, and even revealing feedback. One student who was interviewed wasn’t comfortable in having the person’s name referenced in the blog post, so we posted it as anonymous. Once on Facebook, another Haas student said she would have done the same.

While conversations often still focus on diversity instead of on nurturing an inclusive culture that would encourage conversations and consciousness building on race, this blog has began a conversation on race that’s heading in the direction of an inclusive business culture. Although there’s a long way to go, I am happy we are going

Learn more about the Net Impact Fellowships, our four cohorts - Impact Design, Criminal Justice, Healthy Food, and Racial Equity - and all of our amazing fellows here.

Net Impact Fellow, Charlie discusses how he is initiating difficult conversations and inspiring change at his business school.
Net Impact Fellow, Charlie discusses how he is initiating difficult conversations and inspiring change at his business school.

Healthy Food Fellow, Eunice is Exploring the Intersection of the Arts and Social Impact

In this blog series we are profiling our Net Impact Fellows; from healthy food to racial equity our fellows in this year-long leadership development program are working to better their campuses and their communities. 

Meet Eunice

Eunice Lee is a Net Impact Healthy Food Fellow and student at Wesleyan University studying Science in Society. She, along with her classmates, are planning a play and dinner event that addresses food justice. Read on to learn more about this innovative and artistic way to discuss societal challenges. 

Why did you first decide to take action around healthy food?

My passion for healthy food justice developed during my high school years. I attended a public high school that was in a community where lifestyles around food and health differed significantly from the low-income, Korean American community that I grew up in. In this community, healthy food such as organic fresh produce and an organic sushi restaurant were easily accessible and affordable to most residents. Around this time, I also happened to learn that my chronic kidney condition had been worsening partially because of my inadequate diet. Seeing the disparity in access to healthy food and the importance of having such access to one’s health, I felt the desire to raise greater awareness and to take actions around healthy food. 

Can you tell us more about your action project?

I am collaborating with a group of students to work on a healthy food justice play, When We Can’t Tell What’s Human, devised by a Wesleyan University student, Eliza Wilkins. This play attempts to raise awareness about how the food system works and how it intersects with racism, classism, environmental issues, and labor and immigration rights. The plot is developed around the interaction between a Mexican immigrant cab driver and an upper class white woman. Their relationship highlights the disparity in access to healthy food and social agency. During the play, a three-course meal will be served to the audience, each course setting the stage for each scene.

After the play and dinner, a panel discussion will be followed to provide an opportunity for the audience to further discuss the aspects of the play that may have felt confusing, generalizing, or resonating with their personal experiences. Thanks to Net Impact and Newman’s Own Foundation providing me an opportunity to attend the 2016 Net Impact Conference and meet The Soulfull Project team, The Soulfull Project has kindly agreed to come to our campus as our panel speakers. We have also invited other guest professors and professionals who will share their expertise in the intersection of class, race, immigration rights, and food access. 

This event is scheduled to take place in the evenings of April 27 – April 29. 

How did you know this was the right project for you to work on?

When I first heard about this play idea from my friend, Eliza Wilkins, the playwright of When We Can’t Tell What’s Human, I was very confident that this was the right approach to talk about the broader issues surrounding healthy food access. Because performing arts and theater are central parts of our campus culture, I thought that this project would be the perfect platform to spark discussions about these issues that can be sensitive and very personal. Providing a three-course meal during the play also sounded appealing to the students on campus. 

How has the experience shaped your future plans?

Although the arts and health related topics have been the main passion of mine, it was not until I became involved with this project that I found how powerful the intersection of the arts and public health could be! I am very interested in seeing how I can apply my interest in the arts and arts education into my passion in public health research. 

Learn more about the Net Impact Fellowships, our four cohorts - Impact Design, Criminal Justice, Healthy Food, and Racial Equity - and all of our amazing fellows here.

Net Impact Fellow, Eunice shares how she is creating a dinner theater event with purpose.
Net Impact Fellow, Eunice shares how she is creating a dinner theater event with purpose.

Project 99: Creating a network to support and enable a diverse workforce

Yulkendy Valdez is a 2016-2017 Net Impact Racial Equity Fellow and a student at Babson College studying Business Management. As her action project, she is using her company, Project 99 to organize a retreat style program to bring together 100 students to explore identity, systematic racism in the US, and inclusive leadership skills.

On her fellowship experience Yulkendy says “Being a Net Impact Racial Equity Fellow has given me the opportunity to be part of an amazing community of doers, shakers, and activists who won’t stop till our campuses, our workplaces, and communities in general become more inclusive. This entire experience has given me energy and optimism that together we can move the needle towards achieving equity for all.”

Read on to learn more about Yulkendy and her co-founder, Josuel Plasencia and how they are bringing diversity to Corporate America through Project 99. 

With 2017 graduation looming across America, many students are finalizing plans for what comes next. For Babson seniors, Yulkendy Valdez and Josuel Plasencia, what is next is happening now. Together, they are the co-founders of Project 99, a social venture enabling millennials of color to not only get a seat but also stay at the table of Corporate America through workforce development programs, network of mentors-femtors and conferences - all for millenials of color by millennials of color. Today, diverse professionals are 3 times more likely than their counterparts to drop out of work, Project 99 aims to make this dropout rate no more.

Yulkendy’s and Josuel work is very much connected to their upbringing as a daughter and a son to immigrant families who lacked representation in professional services. Yulkendy immigrated from the Dominican Republic to the city of St. Louis at age 10, at which point she did not speak English. 3 years later she was a finalist in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. Josuel was born and raised by a single mother who immigrated from the Dominican Republic to an attic room in Queens, New York. Despite this, the skies have always been the limit for him. As senior in high school, he was named the Junior Achievement Student of the Year.

Both of them have stories that make them unique but that also inspired the same desire and commitment to a world that where no matter who you are - you have access to opportunity. This shared commitment was apparent when Yulkendy and Josuel both met just a few weeks into their Babson experience. Right after meeting, it was clear that both of them had an opportunity to take their common vision and put it into action.

Fast-forward from their freshman year in 2014 to their senior year in 2017, Project 99 has enabled over 100 young people through their programs at a global scale. Having launched in the United States, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Chile with the support of organizations like Resolution Project,  EY and Delta Airlines, they have had great success. Every single participant in a Project 99 program would recommend it to another person as participants express increased self-awareness, teamwork ability and adaptability.

All things considered, this is only the start for Project 99. As Yulkendy and Josuel prepare for life at Babson alumni, so does Project 99’s expansion into working with leading organizations that can provide a ripple effect of their work in recognizing and giving visibility to millennials of color. Two organizations that have committed to their movement include, a multi-national global technology powerhouse and Humano, a leading Latin American health insurance company. In these companies, Project 99 will be put up to the task, to work with millennials in their respective companies to provide a space for them to be engaged on a personal and community level.

If you don't work for one of these companies you can still catch Project 99 on the road, speaking at the Ashoka U Exchange and the Harvard Social Entrepreneurship Conference this spring. In fact, Yulkendy and Josuel are also co-chairs of the 11th National Dominican Students Conference, which is coming to Babson this March 31st to April 2nd. The NDSC is an annual event featuring the highest quality in academic workshops, inspirational speakers, and networking events — for and by the Dominican-American community. Attended by over 400 student leaders annually it has been hosted in various colleges around the country, from Harvard to NYU, and now it is coming to Babson.

Project 99 envisions a future where the millennial workforce is stronger, resilient and visible. This will lead into more African-Americans and Latinx professionals entering leadership roles. Today only 3% of senior leaders in corporate america are Black or Latinx while the demographic represents 30% of the country. Yulkendy and Josuel believe that when millennials are brought together, they are able to inspire and enable each other in powerful ways. Perhaps the same way that both of them meeting and working together, led to the creation of a startup that is crucial to the future of America. In fact, Project 99 gets its name from the Human Genome Project, a scientific report that confirms that at the DNA level we are 99.9% alike and .01% different. In other words, we are all capable yet we are all special in our own unique way.

Hear Project 99's message from Yulkendy and Jousel:

Learn more about the Net Impact Fellowships, our four cohorts - Impact Design, Criminal Justice, Healthy Food, and Racial Equity - and all of our amazing fellows here.

Net Impact Racial Equity Fellow, Yulkendy is opening doors for millennials of color in Corporate America.
Net Impact Racial Equity Fellow, Yulkendy is opening doors for millennials of color in Corporate America.

Empowering People to Live Healthy Lives

Nana Boateng is a 2016-2017 Net Impact Fellow and a student at Hult International Business School. She is part of the Healthy Food cohort and through her project she is educating people on what the word “healthy” really means. 

Can you tell us more about your action project? 

My action project is centered around empowering individuals and families to take a proactive part in their health. In today’s world, there’s a plethora of pop experts who are giving the wrong advice to people in search of right answers. This is why it’s important for me to first and foremost be a learner; question every standing myth circulating our world today. I developed a website, and set up social media accounts where I share recipes for simple, nutritious meals, under the theme: ’as good as it gets…naturally’. Apart from food, I use my website as a platform to discuss certain myths about health, and present my audience with the facts that have been for so long swept under the rug. 

How did you know this was the right project for you to work on?

Overall health and wellness has always been a passion of mine. I see so many people in search of answers, and I see even more doing everything they have been told is right, yet still struggling with chronic diseases and other health implications along the way. Having been through it all, I know this is the time for me to use this platform as a mouth piece to get the right information out there.

What aspect of your fellowship experience are you most proud of?

Being able to take time out and sit and plan my next steps. The journey of a 1000 miles begins with one step. This is the first thing I have initiated single-handedly. I am my own motivator and I believe in my mission. It makes me proud to always get feedback from followers whom I do not know, sharing how inspired they have been by my work so far. And this is only the beginning.

What is something you learned from your fellowship experience that you weren’t expecting? 

Diligence. You have to fight hard for what you stand for, against all odds.

Have you thought about how your project could be continued after you're finished with your fellowship?

Absolutely! I intend to publish a book by the end of this year. I intend to go back to my home country Ghana, which is a very agricultural country, and educate and encourage farm-to-table lifestyles. That is why I am grateful for my International Marketing degree. 

If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be and why? 

  1. Julia Child because I share in her love and belief in real food
  2. The CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation because I love the mission of the organization!
  3. Lebron James- because he has been my favorite basketball player

Learn more about the Net Impact Fellowships, our four cohorts - Impact Design, Criminal Justice, Healthy Food, and Racial Equity - and all of our amazing fellows here.

 

Net Impact Fellow, Nana shares how she is challenging myths around healthy eating.
Net Impact Fellow, Nana shares how she is challenging myths around healthy eating.

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On ‘Sweet Fields’ and Purpose: Reflections of a Net Impact Healthy Food Fellow

Berenice Leung is a 2016-2017 Net Impact Healthy Food Fellow and a student at the University of Pennsylvania studying Environmental Studies and Business/Behavioral Economics. She is also the co-founder of Sweet Fields, an organic farm and sustainability center. Through her Healthy Food Fellowship and her nonprofit Sweet Fields, she continues to promote healthy eating and sustainable living in Pennsylvania. 

Growing up, I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian to work with animals—the thought of working in agriculture and growing produce never really crossed my mind. Yet, as a love for animals led to my adopting a plant-based diet, I have grown increasingly aware of the numerous issues (i.e. health, environmentalism, bioethics) that our everyday food choices involve. For instance, where a food is sourced and what growing practices were used are significant determinants of our food’s eco-footprint. Such awareness paired with my undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania (Environmental Studies – College of Arts & Sciences; Business/Decision Processes – The Wharton School) are key to my co-founding Sweet Fields. 

Organic Farm, Education Center, Social Enterprise


Sweet Fields is currently developing to be an organic farm and education center; the farm will sell and donate local produce while the education center will provide hands-on learning opportunities related to nutrition and environmental sustainability. Its mission is to increase healthy eating and inspire sustainable living in the local community, especially for residents facing food insecurity. One of my main initiatives is to partner with the Norristown Area School District which reports 80.6% of enrolled students being from economically disadvantaged households; the goal of field trips and in-school programming is achievable when Sweet Fields has raised enough funds to build a multi-feature education center. (The latest fundraiser planned is a 5K race called “Lettuce Run for Sweet Fields”.)

The idea for this social venture started when my friend and I casually discussed in 2014 our vision of creating a community space related to our shared passion for healthy food and environmental sustainability. Sweet Fields eventually developed as we further discussed how local food access and education could help address two of today’s most pressing issues: food insecurity and environmental sustainability. To date, Sweet Fields has secured a ten-year lease for seven acres of land within Norristown Farm Park, incorporated as a 501(c)(3), begun preparations for its first growing season, and developed numerous community partnerships that will significantly contribute to the organization’s success. Eventually, Sweet Fields’s outreach could expand to the nearby Philadelphia and Chester counties.

With a little help from Newman's Own Foundation

All the while Sweet Fields continues developing, I am thankful for not only the monetary support and in-kind donations but also the knowledge and resources provided by community supporters. The opportunity to become a 2016-17 Net Impact Healthy Food Fellow in partnership with Newman’s Own Foundation exemplifies how a network of existing organizations furthers Sweet Fields’s progress. The fellowship has welcomed me to a cohort of like-minded university students across the US, and I am motivated in knowing that we all embrace the importance of increasing healthy food access. By the end of the academic year, each fellow will have completed an “Impact Project” to help create a more just food system; I am excited for my impact project to be the continuation of Sweet Fields.

Thinking about Sweet Fields’s mission imparts in me both pride and humility, for I am confident in the organization’s continued growth but not without overcoming challenges. For instance, time is one of the biggest constraints as I balance the responsibilities of being a full-time student (I will be graduating in May 2017) with those of an aspiring social entrepreneur. Sweet Fields thus continually builds my time management skills, urges me to prioritize, and poses the question: how committed are you to the cause? I answer this by personally reflecting, especially during moments of feeling overstretched or discouraged (e.g. facing a grant rejection, an unexpected expenses, a slower-than-anticipated timeline). 

Passion into Action

Certain challenges are beyond my control; but, internalizing my passion to address food insecurity and environmental sustainability, I realize that the last couple years of time and emotional investment into Sweet Fields would not have been possible without my heart, mind, and actions all aligning with an overall sense of purpose. In short, my commitment to Sweet Fields perpetually strengthens as I encounter more people and information related to the deeply entrenched issues that I so deeply care to address. 

Certainly not everybody grows up wanting to start an organic farm and education center—even I didn’t. Nevertheless, our personal interests are the drivers or our lives and mine have led me to Sweet Fields.

Thank you to the Newman's Own Foundation for sponsoring Net Impact's Healthy Food Fellowship. Learn more about the Net Impact Fellowships, our four cohorts - Impact Design, Criminal Justice, Healthy Food, and Racial Equity - and all of our amazing fellows here.

Net Impact Fellow, Berenice shares her path to starting an organic garden and sustainability center.
Net Impact Fellow, Berenice shares her path to starting an organic garden and sustainability center.

Net Impact Teams Sweep the Podium at the Unigame North American Finals

How can Unilever find new ways to reach digital customers with messages about their products and their corporate commitment to sustainability?

This is the business challenge participants of Unilever’s Unigame Competition were asked to solve. Unigame is an annual competition held by Unilever, one of the world’s largest producers of consumer products with a portfolio spanning 400 brands. Unilever products include everything from nutritionally balanced foods or indulgent ice creams to affordable soaps that combat disease or luxurious shampoos.

This year, Unilever received 162 submissions for their competition with over half of those submissions (91) coming from Net Impact. 

During the competition, videos were submitted to Unilever and evaluated by a committee of Unilever employees. The top 10 teams flew to New York City, staying in Times Square for the North American finals where they were judged by an elite panel including Rob Candelino, VP Hair Care, Alice Kim, Director, Strategy & CEO Support, Jonathan Atwood VP, Sustainable Business and Communications & Mita Mallick Director, Diversity & Inclusion.

So which teams won?

Santa Clara University took home first prize with their idea, #Snap2Save and won $7,000 and a trip to London to compete in the world finals with a chance to win a grand prize trip to One Young World in Bogota, Columbia. 

Texas State University was awarded second place and received $5,000 while team Digital Derma, also from Santa Clara University, came in third, receiving $3,000.

What’s next?

The Santa Clara University team will be packing their bags for London to compete in the global finals for Unigame. 

At Net Impact Central we congratulate all three winning teams from the North American Finals and wish team #Snap2Save from Santa Clara University luck in London. 

Our Net Impact community continues to make us proud. Do you have an inspirational story to share? Let us know.

The first, second, and third place winners for Unilever’s Unigame Competition were all Net Impact teams.
The first, second, and third place winners for Unilever’s Unigame Competition were all Net Impact teams.

Net Impact Welcomes New Interns - and Their New Perspectives and Ideas

Daylight Savings Time is finally here. I equate this to an influx of new, fresh faces joining Net Impact to help out in Conference planning, Marketing, Chapters and our other areas.  It’s always so wonderful to have a vibrant and energetic group of people come into our office, filling up our spaces, packing the fridge with unusual faire and engaging us in lunch chat about their amazing extra-curricular activities and experiences.

I am not a Millennial, although adopted by the Marketing Team as a Millennial (thank you)!  My generation so often looks at people around the ages of 18-34 with a curious eye – they appear confused about this single largest, most diverse group of the workforce.  For example, they think Millennials spend too much time on their tech devices – well yes, almost 50% don’t have a landline, and they have had access to millions of digital impressions providing unfiltered points of view, information and entertainment almost since birth. It’s no different to my father spending all his time reading the newspaper and watching TV!

But it’s not only technology that has caused this group to view the world differently to other generations…they are burdened by student debt as we have never experienced before (over $1 trillion); they are better educated and more discerning – they would rather make less in a job they love, than a job they think is boring. They are also the highest share among any age group in 30 years to have experienced underemployment or unemployment. 

And what about that job?  The majority want to start a business, and over 80% stating that helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition: they believe that profit should not be the only metric for success. If they are in a company, they want a collaborative work culture, flexible work schedules, and are more than willing to blog about work, and “friend” their co-workers; in fact most ignore social media office policies! 

Our super educated young people value family, community, and creativity in their work. And they are looking to make a difference in the world - Net Impact is a perfect place to get started on that mission.

Our fellows bring new energy and excitement to Net Impact.
Our fellows bring new energy and excitement to Net Impact.

stok Part 4: Pods with a Purpose

As you’ve learned from our 4-part blog series, stok is an exceptionally innovative company. It’s not unique for the social and environmental impact created in its work alone, but also for how it infuses its values into every aspect of the company.

stok's spirit animal

stok describes its team as a family, and the subgroups they divide into as “pods.” Orcas are stok’s spirit animal, representing the values of the organization through their characteristic desire to mentor and collaborate with fellow pod members.

The stok family is filled with passionate individuals that aim to drive innovative social and environmental change through collaboration and mentorship. For example, stok’s team members were not willing to invest in the standard 401(k) originally offered by the company. When the company asked its retirement plan advisors for a fossil fuel-free 401(k) option, it was told it would have to take its business elsewhere. Determined to offer a socially and environmentally responsible investing option, stok partnered with HIP Investor to rate all the funds the plan offered and screen out anything with fossil fuel investments. Now team members can sign up for a 401(k) knowing their investments aren’t destroying the world they’re actively working to protect. The plan’s 100% participation rate gives you an idea of how it’s working out for the company.

Work as play

stok’s vision states, “When our partners are the world’s most impactful leaders in environmental and social justice, and our team members view work as play, we will know that we have reached our destination.” stok actively pursues the “work as play” mentality, always encouraging the blending of love, life, work, and play. Employees are allowed the flexibility to work from home, switch desks within the office, and even bring their dogs to work. stok employees have transparent and equitable salaries, no official titles, are offered paid maternity and paternity leave, and are financially supported in continuing their education.

stok’s core values of autonomy, equity, grit, sincerity, nature, authenticity, and empathy fully describe the stok family and their work, and we can all find inspiration in the example they set through the community they foster. Some of stok’s members are even part of our community here at Net Impact. After becoming involved through their universities or previous employment, stok employees continue to engage with Net Impact through local events such as NIx in San Francisco last summer.

We hope you have enjoyed learning about stok and found inspiration in its pursuit of social and environmental impact. So next time you look out at a city skyline, try seeing it the way stok does: full of opportunities for impact.

Read parts 1, 2, and 3 of this blog series and stay tuned as we highlight inspiring and innovative companies that are leading change and share their stories through our blogs.  Do you have a story to tell? Email us.

Part 4 of our 4-part blog series featuring stok, a company with a unique plan for innovation
Part 4 of our 4-part blog series featuring stok, a company with a unique plan for innovation

How Can We Move Our Food Systems Toward a Carbon Neutral Supply Chain?

Net Impact, in partnership with Monsanto, is launching an event series focused on moving our food systems toward a carbon neutral or carbon positive supply chain. Important themes for the event series include global food production, climate change, and the need to feed a growing world.

Groups of students and professionals are coming together around the world to share their ideas and generate potential solutions to address the inefficiencies in the food system. Net Impact helps fund each event and provides helpful toolkits and support. After each event, the chapter or group will select a top idea as their submission to the overall global food solutions competition.  

“The Food Solutions Challenge is a great opportunity for our network to reconcile how to feed a growing planet with fewer natural resources while still maintaining the economic viability of food production,” said Megan Shea, Client Programs Senior Manager at Net Impact. “Net Impact members are the leaders of tomorrow and their diverse perspectives ensure creative, interdisciplinary thinking about how to solve this issue.”

By the end of March, 50 chapters and groups will have hosted a global food solutions events and submitted a potential winning solution. Events are currently underway and 9 events have already been held, including Net Impact Chapters from University of California, Davis, Texas State University, and Duke University. The discussions from these events have yielded interesting solutions ranging from electronic recycling tools to carbon neutral certification programs to sustainable enterprises. 

This spring, the top 6 finalists will be announced and flown to a Net Impact Local Global Food Solutions Conference at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where they will present their potential solutions. They will be judged by a panel of experts and the grand prize winner will receive $5,000 for their chapter. 

Have a great idea already? Apply today!

Net Impact launches the Food Solutions Challenge.
Net Impact launches the Food Solutions Challenge.

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