IMPACT 2030 Debuts in South America

Click here for the Spanish version (haga clic aquí para la versión en español).

Founding Partners Google and Realized Worth convened IMPACT 2030 Leadership Forums in Argentina on November 15th and Brasil on November 17th. Hosted by Google at their beautiful headquarters, we welcomed participants from the UN Volunteers, Global Compact, and Brasil’s State Department. Also in attendance were several partners including SAP, Telefonica, Tata Communications, in addition to other companies like the The Cargill Foundation, Disney, Walmart, Siemans, and Calvin Klein.

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By Sabrina Viva

IMPACT 2030, is the only private sector led coalition, in collaboration with the United Nations, public and social sectors, and academia, that is aligning human capital investments through employee volunteering in the service of the Sustainable Development Agenda.

While the Brasil forum filled up quickly with over 90 participants, Argentina was no exception to the enthusiasm. Participants came prepared and eager to share the dynamic challenges of corporate volunteering in their country. The IMPACT 2030 initiative was welcomed as an exciting new opportunity for partners and stakeholders to connect across sectors and work together within a global network.

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IMPACT 2030 leadership forums introduce prospective partners and stakeholders to the initiative and walk them through a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets mapping session. The mapping session helps attendees understand which of the SDG targets map to their corporate volunteer programs and encourage dialogue around potential areas for collaboration through action teams.

The Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals

While there was a lot of laughter and networking throughout the forums, attendees walked away with a renewed sense of optimism for the endless opportunities that IMPACT 2030 can bring to their organizations, but just as importantly, the positive impact it will make in their community and country as well.


IMPACT 2030 fosters the passion and vision of these galvanized practitioners and volunteers to lead a global movement that could mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality, and climate change by 2030, through the efforts of corporate volunteers.


Participants were particularly interested in learning how to strategically develop corporate volunteering programs that foster the transformative volunteering framework. Attendees such as the UN Volunteers and Telefonica shared their vision and models for local success. Practitioners play a unique role in creating the space for transformative learning to occur. When a volunteer experiences proximity to the beneficiary, and uses the keystone behaviours such as the brief, the debrief, and meeting volunteers at their highest level of contribution, their preconceived notions are challenged and their empathy circle is expanded. IMPACT 2030 fosters the passion and vision of these galvanized practitioners and volunteers to lead a global movement that could mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality, and climate change by 2030, through the efforts of corporate volunteers.

If you are interested in joining IMPACT 2030 as a volunteer, partner or stakeholder, please follow the links below.


Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs for companies around the world. Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Sabrina Viva
Director of Account Management &
Latin American Initiatives
Follow Sabrina on Twitter 
Connect with Sabrina on LinkedIn

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How Volunteerism Contributes to a Resilient World

Amidst ongoing war in the Middle East, the global threat of climate change, Brexit and President-Elect Trump, the resilience of our world is often called into question. Luckily, our world consists of communities made of up individuals that have the power to increase their own resilience through actions such as volunteerism. This year’s discussion theme at IVCO was “increasing resilience of communities through volunteering.” I presented this link on behalf of Realized Worth and how it can have unique benefits through corporate volunteerism around the world.

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By Christine Foster

In October I had the honour of attending and presenting at IVCO 2016 in Bonn, Germany. The conference, co-hosted by UN Volunteers, Forum and GIZ, brought together the world’s leading volunteer sending organizations with representatives of their partner sectors – such as Realized Worth! In keeping with the conference theme, I presented on how corporate volunteering can increase the resilience of communities and the individual volunteers themselves.

As RW co-founder Angela Parker wrote in March 2016, humanity “has survived by separating into groups and protecting those who are ‘in’ against those who are ‘out.’ … [because these groups] enabled [humans] to protect themselves from external threats.” As recent events have made painfully clear, the use of “the other” is still alive and well, threatening the resilience of our citizens and institutions.

Volunteerism offers a unique mechanism to provide proximity to “the other” and allows individuals from “in” and “out” groups to challenge and change their previously formed judgements and develop empathy for these individuals. Based on neuroscientific research, proximity and interaction can alter the brain’s reactions to these individuals and expand their empathy circle.

Realized Worth employs the Transformative Volunteering framework to our work. Why? RW believes that volunteerism can achieve more impact than the services it aims to deliver. As RW co-founder Chris Jarvis wrote in August 2016, transformative volunteering, when done correctly, has the potential to increase one’s empathy, and thereby the resilience of the individual volunteer. Volunteerism leads to a disruption of societal divisions and can increase empathy for others and the resilience of an individual as a result. The individual, empowered as an agent of change, will then bring that resilience to the systems they operate within – such as their company, their community, and the world. Breaking down divisions and building societal resilience is integral to achieving social progress through such initiatives as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

And if you’re interested in learning more about the role of empathy and transformative volunteering in building individual and communal resilience, consider signing up for this free online course on Transformative Volunteering:

Empathy in Motion: The Power of Employee Volunteering
12 sessions in two parts
Part 1: Changing Hearts and Minds

Part 2: Leading the Change

The course is offered through RW Institute and is hosted by OpenSAP. Registration for the course is free and enrollment opens on January 11, 2017. More information will be available soon via rw.institute.


Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs for companies around the world. Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Christine Foster
Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist, Tata Consultancy Services
Follow Christine on Twitter
Connect with Christine on LinkedIn

 

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In the Wake of the Election: Realized Worth’s Commitment

In the wake of the election, I have become more alert. I have come to understand that despite the past 18 months of unprecedented political rhetoric flooding our screens, or the as-yet unforeseen global implications of this moment in history – none of this is new. The issues are not new. Our belief systems are not new. And we are the same in that we want others to agree with us and join our side. I have begun to orient myself in light of what I understand about my country and my community. And now, I am deciding what action to take. I am deciding: Who am I in this moment?

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By Angela Parker

I can’t make lofty promises, but as the co-founder of a values-based company, I can commit to strengthening our stand for the ideals that guide our reason for being. With that in mind, I want to reassure our friends, partners, and clients of the following:

Realized Worth stands for equality.

Unfortunately, racism, sexism and other hatreds and phobias affect the psychology of most people. With that understanding, we seek not only equal treatment in the workplace for all races, genders, ages, religions, and preferences, but we actively work to dismantle the silos that perpetuate a culture of us versus them.

Realized Worth stands for acceptance.

Acceptance is not a passive stance, but an active one. As a company, we seek not to change others with our work, but to create space where change can occur. We accept ourselves and others as we are, and in our words and behavior we demonstrate that value is not derived from age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or economic standing; but rather, human value is inherent.

Realized Worth stands for inclusion.

With employees, partners, friends, and clients all over the world, Realized Worth is an open-border company. We will not shut the gate behind us and we will not stand by while walls are built around us. In our work and behaviors, we actively seek experiences that challenge preconceived ideas as to inoculate ourselves against the exclusion or objectification of any people group.

Realized Worth stands for compassion.

While we are a for-profit company responsible for delivering an excellent product within the realm of the “bottom line,” we won’t neglect our hearts. We are a company where compassion – pain, sympathy, and concern for others and ourselves – is embraced as an essential contributor to success. We, along with our partners, clients, and friends, suffer together so that when the time comes, we authentically embrace celebration together, too.

The work we do is focused on the design and implementation of employee volunteer programs, but it has always been about more than volunteering. Volunteering makes us powerful agents of change. It is one of very few activities that can facilitate a respectful interaction between people and issues that are outside the other’s comfort zone. If we are going to see our society progress into one that is equal, inclusive, accepting, and compassionate, we have to assume it is each of our individual responsibilities to contribute to making that change happen.

Realized Worth is committed to taking responsibility to contribute to change, but we can’t do it without you. So in the wake of the election, grieve, celebrate, feel what you feel. Take as long as you need. But then, when you’re ready, we hope you’ll commit to joining us as a person or organization committed to equality, acceptance, inclusion, and compassion. We’re better together.


 Realized Worth designs and implements corporate volunteer programs for companies around the world. Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Angela Parker
Co-founder/Partner, Realized Worth
Follow Angela on Twitter
Connect with Angela on LinkedIn

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Interview: Employee Volunteering and Transformative Learning

Last weekend, RW co-founder Angela Parker took up a last-minute opportunity to attend a conference on transformative learning in Tacoma, Washington. What does transformative learning have to do with employee volunteering? Our trusty blog editor is here to help us find out in a personal interview with Angela.

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Q: How did you find out about this conference [International Transformative Learning Conference, “Engaging at the Intersections”]?

A: There’s actually a story to this. The RW team is a pretty research obsessed group, so we’ve been compiling what we call “proofs” (the research behind our practices) into one shareable document online. Chris Jarvis [the other RW co-founder] and I held a proof gathering session on Saturday, the 15th. For nearly 8 hours straight, our keyboards were smoking as we typed and clicked and pasted. We were a little manic – it’s pretty fun to pull together 8 years of work that back up the methods you implement on a daily basis.


… he [our host] looked at us each in the eye and stated, directly, “I want you to know that your presence here today is entirely unnecessary.”


All this to say, the proof gathering triggered a memory of a significant experience the RW team shared in the Dominican Republic last January. After a long week of team meetings (and yes, coconut drinks on the beach), we were tired and not in the mood to follow through on the volunteer work we had scheduled. But, being volunteer program practitioners, we knew it was important to “walk the talk,” as they say. So we mumbled and grumbled and went on our way.

We arrived in a neighborhood where the houses were all in various states of disrepair. We learned that we would be painting two of these homes, working side-by-side with the homeowners. We felt confident about what to expect; we had all volunteered in similar scenarios. That was when Jose, our local host, gathered us in a circle, asking: Why did you come here today? We paused and looked at each other hesitantly …

… this is the work we do …

… we want to make a difference …

… we feel we should give back …

Jose nodded. And then he looked at us each in the eye and stated, directly, “I want you to know that your presence here today is entirely unnecessary.”

We were shocked. This is not the welcome we had expected. He went on to explain that anyone can paint these homes and that the paint itself won’t change these people’s lives. He said, “Painting will not make a difference.” And then, with a gentle voice, he invited us to a different way of thinking:

“You are here to connect with a family in a community where they live every day. You are here to allow them to believe that someone somewhere else thinks about them. You are here to be affected, to learn about someone you don’t know, to challenge your own assumptions. Open your mind. When you can, pause your work and talk to this family. We are not here today to complete a task; we are here to know and be known.”

We were quite disoriented by this introduction, and it dramatically changed our collective experience. At the end of the event, Jose led us through a critical reflection exercise. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this volunteer event was transformative for our team. In meaningful ways, it changed our attitudes and our behaviors toward people affected by poverty. It’s certainly an experience we will never forget.

The thing is, the way Jose walked us through this event – the way he challenged our expectations and helped us critically reflect – is exactly the method RW advocates for with our clients. It may not be surprising to learn that Jose told us later he teaches something called “transformative learning theory” at an American university. This is the methodology on which we base our work.

It was in searching for Jose online that I discovered a conference taking place at Pacific Lutheran University on Transformative Learning. It was three days away, so I jumped at the chance to attend.

Q: I remember that! [I was there.] And it was indeed transformative. So when you saw that this conference was coming up, what was it that caught your eye? What in particular made you want to attend?

A: I think it was the session titles. Here are a few that had me wide-eyed:

What is Transformative Learning? Facilitator: Urusa Fahim, Ph.D

Methods for Understanding and Extending the Theory of Transformative Learning
Facilitators: Aliki Nicolaides, Ph.D.; Stacey Robbins, Ph.D; and Chad Hoggan, Ph.D.

Opening Space for Expanded Worldviews through Experiences of Intersectional Dissonance with Barton David Buechner, Zieva Dauber Konvisser, Deedee Myers, Tzofnat Peleg-Baker & John Dirkx

Engaging the Intersection of Transformative Learning and Neuroscience with Kathleen Taylor, Paul Loper, Dean Elias, Urusa Fahim, & Donald Proby

Mapping the Neuronal Underpinnings of Transformative Learning Daniel Glisczinski, University of Minnesota Duluth

You’ve got to understand that we’ve been out there on our own learning about this stuff. I didn’t realize there was an entire community of people using the same language we use in our method of transformative volunteering. I wanted to know if we’re doing it right or if there are challenges I’m unaware of or, if perhaps RW has some value to offer this community of academics.

Q: What did you experience at the conference?

A: Well, to be really vulnerable with you, I was a bit emotional in the first session. I was visibly shaking and couldn’t talk for fear I would start crying.

On one hand, I’m surprised it was this emotional for me. On the other hand, I’m well aware that the work RW does is belief work. And belief takes a huge degree of emotional energy. We are committed to following through on a method that promises pretty major results – but we don’t always get to see those results. We just have to keep honing the method, getting more strategic, facing challenges head-on, and – most importantly – we have to keep believing. Knowing that, you might be able to imagine how bolstering it was to hear an entire room of people talking about these issues with the same passion I feel for them. I have never heard anyone other than my own team and clients use the vocabulary of transformative learning before. And here I was in a room of people that know the work far better than I do, have faced challenges far more daunting than my own, and are committed to solving those challenges and seeing the method through to its promised results.

Q: So … what exactly is transformative learning?

A: I’m so glad you asked!

In simple terms, transformative learning is any experience that challenges what we know, introduces us to a new understandings, and invites us to act on those understandings. Patricia Cranton, a thought leader who recently passed away, said it like this:

Transformative learning can occur when people encounter alternative points of view and perspectives. Exposure to alternatives encourages people to critically question their assumptions, beliefs, and values, and when this leads to a shift in the way they see themselves or things in the world, they have engaged in transformative learning. Transformative learning can be promoted by using any strategy, activity, or resource that presents an alternative point of view.

Transformative Learning: Q&A with Patricia Cranton

Q: How does Transformative Learning apply to employee volunteering?

A: Volunteering has the potential to be a nonthreatening space to challenge preconceived notions about people and issues that may seem “different.” It enables contact between in-groups and out-groups. When volunteer opportunities are provided appropriately and with respect for the sensitive backgrounds and situations of all involved, it becomes possible to eliminate the historically dangerous mindset of us vs. them. In nonthreatening contact with out-groups, previously formed conclusions are challenged by interactions, which soon line up with faces followed by names. This is empathy. And empathy is essential to survival. You can read more about this in a blog I wrote a few months ago called Why Volunteering is Not Just Volunteering.

But what I mean by all of this is when we frame volunteering events with the elements identified in transformative learning (which is incredibly simple to do!) we have the power to turn volunteering into an effective lever for major societal change.

Q: What was it about this conference that stood out to you?

A: This an easy one. For me, there were two major differentiators at this conference:

First – and maybe this is true for all academic conferences – I was struck by the intentional language used by the majority of attendees. It felt like everyone was there for the benefit of the other. I was guided in the language I use (from microaggressions to identity interrogation) in a way that felt generous, not judgmental. There were moments in the middle of large group sessions where an attendee felt it appropriate to stand and read a section of poetry – and it wasn’t weird! At other moments, attendees were gently chided to use non-violent vocabulary in their references to specific people groups or ethnicities; again, in a remarkably nonjudgmental manner. I was deeply touched by this posture of intentionality. I had never experienced anything like it.

Second, unlike CSR conferences where I worry about whether or not I am bringing enough value to the conversation, I was absolutely delighted to discover how hungry this academic group was to learn about practical applications of transformative learning. Everyone I interacted with was eager to hear about transformation through volunteering and most were shocked that companies are interested in this approach. Over the four day event, I began to feel strongly that there is massive potential benefit to bringing the academic and corporate communities together to learn from each other.

Q: What learnings can you pass on to our readers, many of whom are CSR practitioners and nonprofit professionals?

A: I made a list:

  • Our practice is in danger of becoming too siloed. This conference inspired me to expand my view and look outside of my typical network to learn more about the best ways to do our work and achieve greater impact.
  • Belief is hard and we’re in a business that requires belief. At the risk of sounding a bit cheesy, I would encourage CSR practitioners to remember to do the things that remind us who we are. Spend time in nature, read poetry, listen to music, volunteer. And be kind. People at this conference were incredibly kind – and it reminded me how much the human spirit depends on the spirit of others.
  • If you haven’t, consider that volunteering might be more than just volunteering. Consider its potential to invite people to challenge what they know, gain new understandings, and act on those understandings. The potential of this approach is literally world changing.

And there it is! Transformative learning has a prominent place in academia and is being applied tactically through volunteering at companies all over the world.

And if you’re ready to learn to apply the methods of transformative learning through volunteering at your company, consider starting 2017 with a course on Transformative Volunteering:

Empathy in Motion: The Power of Employee Volunteering
12 sessions in two parts
Part 1: Changing Hearts and Minds
Part 2: Leading the Change

Registration is free, opens January 11, and will be hosted via rw.institute. The course itself is offered through RW Institute and hosted by OpenSAP.


Realized Worth is a global consulting firm that works with companies to design and implement employee volunteer programs. We focus on equipping individuals to lead programs in a scalable way, achieving impact for the company, the community, and the employee.Want to discuss your program with us? We’ll be happy to hear from you! Email us directly atcontact@realizedworth.com, or find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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