Can the market place finance World Education?

Alan FurthIs the time right for coupling of World Education and the “market place”, asks Director Alan Furth of the Cobscook Community Learning Center (CCLC)?


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CCLC, a Maine (US) based member of the AWE, works for being catalyst for positive social change. It is needed for Washington County, one of the nation’s poorest, with one of the lowest employment rates in the state. In this surrounding, CCLC wishes positively to impact in shifting from despair and survival conditions to imagining and venturing into the world of possibilities.

The CCLC’s co-ownership in pie producing Cobscook Bay Company is one successful way to approach and finance its mission. This is where Furth takes inspiration, when he suggests it as a model for World Educators.

We have to talk Dollars!
“We cannot sustain our work for the long haul if we are dependent upon individuals, foundation, or event governments with money. Interests, focus, or administrations can shift in an instant,” says Furth about his point of departure.
Within the AWE we know already unfortunate examples, he explains. Making ourselves dependent on public means or sponsors make World Educators economically vulnerable says Furth and continues:
“I want to see the work of World Educators liberated through proactive efforts.”
“We have to talk Dollars, Euro and Kroner.”

Many would say that education belongs in the sphere of rights and is a public task. Giving in to commodification and privatization of learning endeavors can be depicted as a great defeat. Furth agrees on this. However, his answer is straight forward:
“When we speak World Education, there is no battle and there is no other way. One of the things we are weakest in discussing is the economy of social change.”
He also notes that he is following a long tradition of leveraging business to fund community change initiatives:
“It is our job to find the best ways to meet our respective and collective missions”.

How does it work at CCLC?
The alliance between the CCLC’s non-profit and the pie production’s for-profit endeavors were recently well described in both Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald.

The idea is plain and simple. The CCLC co-owned company produces pies, they are sold on the market place and when there is a net profit, CCLC gets its share. With the pie business, 25% of net profits will be spent on what CCLC is there for: positive social change. And, the business itself is a for profit reflection of the social and ecological values that guide CCLC.

So, pie consuming citizens do buy a little extra: by buying the pies they take responsibility. They buy local, which raises employment in the poorest county in Maine, where Cobscook is situated. They buy organic, and they secure the social work done at CCLC.

“Wherever we are, what is the opportunity here, in harnessing and partnering with the world of business?” is Furth’s question to World Educators.

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2 Responses to Can the market place finance World Education?

  1. Alan Furth says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for writing this. It is always a pleasure working with you. I look forward to following the communication that may follow this.

    I will share the site with my colleagues.

    From the east coast of North America – where we have followed your lead into a new day.

    Alan

  2. Check out this link to a documentary about the Cobscook Bay Company venture:
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/23119792/Maine%20Fresh_final.mov

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