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WORLDS APART: LEVERAGING AFRICA TRIP HIGHLIGHTS TO EDUCATE STUDENTS, GROW BUSINESS

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Associate Spotlight July 2012
While most kids don’t think twice when they race to the colorful horses on a beloved merry­go­round, one fourth­grade class in New Jersey is certainly taking note that for some kids in Africa, recess—and the merry­ go­round they have—is more than just play. It’s a way of powering the school.

That’s because a few weeks ago, New Jersey Senior Associate Cynthia Giordano headed to her son Mario’s art­splattered, student­decorated school hallways to explain to a group of 10­year­olds just how different school life is in Ghana, Africa—a place with several areas that don’t have access to electricity. Giordano showed them a Viridian­designed recap of the company’s recent sustainability mission to Africa.

“There were two parts of the presentation that really made an impact on the kids,” Giordano said. “The first was showing how the ‘people­powered’ merry­go­round—which was constructed by Viridian Associates and executives—generates electricity for the kids’ lanterns at night, so the children can study in their huts. The second part of the presentation was showing the upgrades that had been made to the local library during that trip. The children at Mario’s school had donated 75 books to Viridian’s winter book drive, so they were delighted to see the fruits of their efforts.”

Viridian’s recent trip to Ghana, part of the “7 Continents in 7 Years” pledge, not only brought new attention to Viridian’s community efforts but also served to highlight the company’s educational initiative, the fourth pillar of sustainability at Viridian.

For company Associates and executives, one of the most gratifying parts of these trips is being able to share their findings and the results of their efforts with others, as was the case with Giordano’s recent school presentation. Along those lines, the company has put together the necessary collateral for Associates to share with others, replete with videos, slideshows and more.

After discovering that her son’s class at Dogwood Hill School in Oakland, NJ, focuses on a different continent every year as part of a combined social studies and geography curriculum, Giordano knew it was a no­brainer to bring the Africa trip highlights to the classroom. Not only was she able to share stories and images from across the world with her son’s fourth­grade class, but she was also able to lay the groundwork for some anticipated new business. (Mario and Cynthia are pictured above.) Many of the teachers and staff who attended the presentation along with the students were hearing about Viridian for the first time, and several approached Giordano afterward for more information on the company and green energy.

The video shows various aspects of the villagers’ lives in Ghana, including how they get their water from the local well and how children are taught to carry parcels on their heads. The presentation explains “7 Continents in 7 Years,” focusing on this year’s trip to Africa.

“The whole presentation exceeded my wildest expectations,” Giordano said. “The company had a slideshow with pictures and videos, and provided Mario’s classmates with handouts including a pamphlet with a word game, Ghana student biographies and information about Viridian. It made a huge impact on the kids and teachers alike.”

And, as mentioned, the presentation also gave Giordano the opportunity to bring the Viridian mission and the culture of Generation V to a wider audience.

“The teachers and faculty were equally impressed with the company as they were with the fact that we brought people to Africa to help those who need it,” Giordano said. “I can now use that ‘first impression’ as a springboard to present the company’s Residual Fundraising Program (RFP) to the school board. I’m excited about this potential opportunity.”

The Viridian Residual Fundraising Program offers an innovative way for organizations to raise funds and earn truly sustainable income. Thanks to the program, organizations earn money without having to ask for monetary donations from supporters as organizations continue to earn money every month their customers remain with Viridian.

Giordano, who joined the company in April 2011, previously had her own business as a high­end caterer and intends to pursue commercial clients to help grow her business.

“I’ve always loved working with people, so I’m going to use that experience and reach out to my old contacts,” she said. “This presentation from the company is another tool I can use to help spread the Viridian message.”