Inaugural Changemaker Fellowship Leads to New B Corporation Certification Toolkit
This summer, NC State Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship and 321 Coffee joined forces to pilot a new initiative called the "Changemaker Fellowship."
Audrey Westlund is the first Social Innovation Fellow (SIF) to participate in the Changemaker Fellowship, a holistic learning experience that combines theoretical knowledge, practical skills and personal development. Created and supported by NC State Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the fellowship was designed to be rigorous, challenging and empowering in order to prepare students to be effective changemakers in their communities and beyond.
Piloting the Changemaker Fellowship, 321 Coffee served as the community partner for the first summer Fellow placement. In the Q&A below, Audrey Westlund explains how she assisted 321 Coffee in their continued efforts towards becoming a certified B Corporation and developed a tool to guide other students help companies through the certification process.
Q: What drew you to the fellowship?
I was a member of the 2022-2023 Social Innovation Fellows cohort. My SIF team worked with Raleigh City Farm, exploring community environmental education and sustainable non-profit growth. I’ve always been inspired by socially and environmentally driven organizations/businesses and see myself working in this world one day. SIF was an excellent introduction to how my developing skills and passions could work hand in hand, contributing to the goal of positive social change. Upon the conclusion of the program, I was looking for a similar experience in the working world.
I was introduced to 321 Coffee and the company’s powerful mission at a University Honors Program event during my Freshman year. Since then, I’ve visited the shops and watched 321 rapidly expand in our community. When I heard they were hoping to work with a student on business sustainability initiatives, I was quick to emphasize my desire to work with them. After my initial meeting with Lindsay and Michael, the 321 Coffee Co-founders, I found out that our interests aligned significantly – they were interested in pursuing a B Corp certification, and I hoped to gain an in-depth understanding of each of the B Corp performance categories and associated best practices.
The result of that meeting was an opportunity to participate in the Changemaker Fellowship as well as a concurrent summer internship with 321 Coffee to develop a deeper understanding of 321’s operations as a social enterprise. Related work for my internship included attending management and business meetings, shadowing staff in each location, reviewing supplier management procedures, reviewing inventory management software, and speaking with other mission-driven enterprises.
Q: How did you assist 321 Coffee’s efforts towards preparing for B Corp certification?
I helped 321 prepare for the B Corp certification process by providing recommendations for sustainable growth and expansion in the short and long term. Specifically, I helped organize documentation and set up various mechanisms of performance-metric tracking. I also evaluated 321 from the lens of each B Impact Assessment Category, using a previously conducted analysis and a more structured understanding of company needs/operations. In doing so, I gained an in-depth understanding of each of the B Corp performance categories and associated best practices while considering 321’s holistic operations: supply chain, manufacturing/production, distribution, and in-shop operations.
Audrey was incredible to have as a part of the 321 team this summer. I was most impressed by Audrey’s thoroughness and ability to be a self-starter. She identified pain points and opportunities for growth, and she took it upon herself to ideate and fill that void. Our whole team was impressed by this. I’d say this is a great testament to NC State’s education of embodying the “Think and Do” mantra.
Attaining the B Corp certification has always been a goal of ours, and I’m thrilled to be at the point where we’re ready to start establishing systems and processes that champion these best practices.
-Lindsay Wrege, Co-Founder, 321 Coffee
Q: How did the Changemaker Fellowship impact you?
Working with 321 Coffee has been one of the most impactful educational experiences I’ve had. Lindsay, Micheal, and all other company directors are incredibly inspiring and driven. It was amazing to work in this atmosphere everyday, fueled by the team’s devotion to 321’s mission and success. In addition, the shop management team taught me a great deal about adaptability and best practices in supporting a workforce. They were always willing to support my projects, providing advice on improvements and insights to company-wide practices. This engagement facilitated all of my projects and pushed me to explore new initiatives. Most notably though, working with the baristas and roasters made the entire experience incomparable. From group lunch chats with Sophie at the Roasting Facility to the big hug I anticipated from Aaron everytime I visited Pendo, I truly felt the value of an inclusive workforce everyday.
The Changemaker Fellowship allowed me to practice the skills I developed as a Social Innovation Fellow while also pushing me completely out of my comfort zone as I navigated new social and environmental challenges. I am very grateful for the independence I was given as I worked to understand the best ways I could support 321 Coffee. Utilizing systems thinking, I worked to understand 321’s holistic operations before beginning to propose areas of growth or project focuses. Throughout the summer, it was very beneficial to reflect on my work and the related social innovation skills I was developing as I shifted between projects, and I am, therefore, also extremely grateful for the mentorship and support I received from SIE Interim Director Alisha Brice throughout the summer. This fellowship truly shifted the way I think about social business and related work and allowed me to refine my personal career aspirations to reflect my prioritization of socially/environmentally impactful work.
In the light of practicing skills from the classroom and learning new business practices, I felt the value of an inclusive workplace each and every day at 321 Coffee.
A New Tool for Future Fellows and Ventures Seeking B Corp Certification
Westlund packaged her accumulated knowledge of the B Corp certification process into a report that future fellows and business owners can use to jumpstart their efforts. “The B Corp Assessment Driving the Growth of a Social Business” outlines what a B Corporation is, the legal requirements for certification, using a documentation hub, and additional resources such as local organizations that can assist. The report includes important takeaways based on Westlund’s experience including how to engage employees in the process.
Audrey Westlund, from Leesburg, Virginia, is a junior in the College of Engineering studying industrial engineering with a minor in environmental sciences. She is exploring the relationships between process efficiency and sustainability in order to help with the development and improvement of sustainable methods of operation and production for larger companies and industries.
More About the Changemaker Fellowship
The fellowship has five goals:
- To further develop and enhance students’ empathy, cultural competence, and ethical commitment toward creating positive social and environmental change.
- To provide students with an opportunity to practice creative problem-solving, leadership, and collaboration toward addressing complex social and environmental challenges.
- To promote students’ systems thinking and sustainability mindset, helping them understand and address the interconnected nature of social and environmental challenges.
- To equip students with advocacy skills and the ability to communicate persuasively, empowering them to advocate for change and inspire others toward a common goal.
- To foster students’ resilience and adaptability, helping them persevere in the face of challenges and setbacks, and be effective agents of positive change in their communities.
Inspired by this work? Consider being a supporter of the Changemaker Fellowship program.
For more information about the fellowship or to partner with Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, email email@example.com.