Five Triangle Firms Named to Inaugural List of Top Impact Companies

06/26/2019 16:00 - CHAPEL HILL, DURHAM, MORRISVILLE, AND RALEIGH, NC - (PR Distribution™)

A quintet of Triangle companies recently earned recognition among the Top 100 Impact Companies as named by RealLeaders magazine. The local honorees include Participate Learning, Forrest Firm, SJF Ventures, Vital Plan and Redwoods Group. 

The list of Top 100 Impact Companies put out by RealLeaders magazine recognizes high-growth organizations that are committed to the greater good. The awards for impact companies are the result of a collaboration among the magazine, Asheville impact investment firm Big Path Capital, and B Lab, a Pennsylvania nonprofit that administers the certification process for B corporations (for-profit entities dedicated to the principles of social responsibility and environmental sustainability). 

Out of the 100 companies named from across the country, five call the Triangle region home. The five companies are representative of a larger movement in the world-wide business community, the notion that companies can do good in the world while going about growing their businesses – focusing on profit, people and the planet. 

Here’s a closer look at each of the honorees:

Participate Learning (Chapel Hill): Participate Learning partners with organizations and school districts to ignite change with language immersion and global education programs. For more than 30 years, educators have used Participate Learning’s professional development and curriculum, language acquisition and international exchange programs to create engaging learning environments. The organization’s mission is to empower students and educators to positively impact the world through global education and cultural connections. Participate Learning has been a certified B Corporation® since 2011 and has been named a ‘Best for the World’ winner each year since 2013. 

Forrest Firm (Durham/Raleigh): The Forrest Firm, launched in 2011, is the sole North Carolina law firm operating as a certified B Corporation. The firm’s mission is to provide legal services in a manner that consistently exceeds client expectations, create healthy, sustainable work environments for its professionals, and positively impact communities across North Carolina. The Forrest Firm has a work from anywhere policy, unlimited PTO and bold pro bono and community service policies. Over 3,000 clients have engaged Forrest Firm since its inception. 

SJF Ventures (Durham): SJF Ventures invests in high-growth companies creating a healthier, smarter, and cleaner future and has $260 million under management. The fund’s mission is to catalyze the development of highly successful businesses driving lasting, positive changes, having been at the forefront of impact investing since 1999. The team has invested in over 60 ventures, bringing time-tested perspective and expertise to partnerships with entrepreneurs. SJF’s portfolio includes two Durham-based investments: TransLoc, a transit software company that was sold to Ford last year and is growing to 150 employees by year-end, and Validic, a leader in mobile health data, providing clients with data and analytics from more than 350 wearable and in-home health devices. Through its investment funds, the SJF leads equity financings from $3-15 million, solo or in syndicates, to companies seeking growth capital. 

Vital Plan (Raleigh): Vital Plan was founded by North Carolina physician Bill Rawls and his daughter, Braden Rawls, to bring transparency and credibility to the $100 billion natural products industry that is known for deceptive labeling, false claims, and low-quality ingredients. This is accomplished by providing guided educational wellness courses, health coaching, and physician-formulated supplement protocols. Like the Forrest Firm, Vital Plan is a certified B Corporation, committed to doing business with integrity and operating with a triple-bottom line approach to business: profit, people, and planet. 

The Redwoods Group (Morrisville): The Redwoods Group uses the power of insurance to create safe communities for all. They do this by offering property and casualty insurance to mission-aligned community organizations such as YMCAs, Jewish community centers, Boys & Girls Clubs and camps. They then use the data and insights they gather from their insuring relationships to create tools and services that prevent harm such as child sexual abuse and non-swimmer drowning. 

Executives from the five companies formally accepted their top 100 impact company recognition from RealLeaders at the Momentum Summit in Asheville, a gathering of impact companies from around the country. The Momentum Summit is an invitation-only, two-day event convening top CEOs who are scaling high-growth, positive-impact companies using the power and creativity of business. This year’s summit took place April 4-5 at Asheville’s Cambria Hotel. 

“Being named to the RealLeaders Top 100 Impact Companies is both humbling for us 

and real validation for the path we have chosen to create a different type of law firm,” said Forrest, founder of the Forrest Firm. “It is exciting to see the business community embracing the notion that profits can be generated and good things can happen for customers, employees and the community.” 

Ranya Hahn, Director of Human Resources at Participate Learning, said, “Our recognition in the inaugural RealLeaders Top 100 impact companies is an honor and an inspiration. Participate Learning’s commitment to positive impact affects everything we do, from empowering educators and students to engage with the world, to encouraging employees to pursue their professional and personal passions. We are inspired by the collective strength of RealLeaders 100 winners in the Triangle and beyond using business as a force for good.” 

"It is an honor to be recognized as an early leader in the growing conscious capitalism movement,” added Rawls, CEO and co-founder of Vital Plan. Becoming a B Corporation has inspired us to think about our business as a platform for making a positive impact on the world. From our supply chain operation to delivery at our customer's door, we touch a lot of lives each day and it feels good to be intentional about maximizing the benefit our operation can deliver." 

“SJF is honored to be recognized on the inaugural RealLeaders 100 Top Impact Companies list, especially alongside two SJF portfolio companies, Cecelia Health (formerly Fit4D) and Vital Farms, and four other Triangle-based businesses,” offered Dave Kirkpatrick, co-founder and Manager Director of SJF Ventures. “We are also proud to see that fellow Impact Capital Managers (ICM) network members were selected. SJF has played a leading role in helping to establish ICM, a newly-formed association for private capital fund managers which now represents over $11 billion in impact-focused capital across approximately 40 member funds.” 

“When we founded Redwoods, the idea that business can and should be a powerful force for good was somewhat of a fringe notion,” said Kevin Trapani, CEO and co-founder of The Redwoods Group. “Now mainstream businesses, policy makers and investors are beginning to understand not just that purpose can co-exist with success in business—but that it can actually be a driver of it. We are humbled to be recognized among so many other businesses pioneering this movement—and we are gratified to find ourselves in a community with so many like-minded NC businesses.” 

For more information on the inaugural RealLeaders Top 100 Impact Companies, visit www.real-leaders.com/the-real-leaders-100-top-impact-companies-2019

Media Contacts:

Full Name
Heather Hindin
Participate Learning
Phone Number
(919) 265-5167
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