It’s great to learn about new companies that cut against the grain, so we were excited when Joanna (a stellar Knewton TA) told us about Encountour. Josh Egan is the co-founder; last week we tracked him down to answer a few questions.
What’s the goal of Encountour? What kind of work do you do?
We provide Alternative Spring Break opportunities for college students. Our mission is to provide travel experiences that broaden global perspectives and directly aid the efforts of local non-profits in Latin America; the spring break program is a great opportunity for college students to dip their feet into the field of social activism. The trips are affordable, the sign-up process is easy, and the work is pre-screened for safety and to ensure that there’s a strong community impact. We do everything from house construction and community development to reforestation projects and agricultural fieldwork.
We’re always curious about start-ups. What motivated you to start the organization, and how did you go about it?
We’re trying to prove that socially conscious companies can do just as much good as non-profit organizations while still turning a profit (we’re still working on the second part!). My co-founder, Andrew Steinberg, and I realized the value of international volunteer work the first time we visited Guatemala as part of our own Alternative Spring Break trip. Working with children in a local education center was an amazing experience, and we wanted to ensure that college students across North America had access to similar opportunities.
Today, Encountour is a team comprised of eight passionate, fun-loving individuals, who realize that their daily responsibilities are more than just a means to an end. Whether we’re developing new relations with a local community that needs our support, promoting the benefits of international travel to a student that’s never left home, or watching one of our volunteer groups present a newly constructed house to grateful family, we are constantly shaping lives. This overall sense of meaning motivates us in a way that I think is different from most companies out there.
What kind of volunteers are you looking for, and how should they apply?
We’re looking for students who want to experience more when they travel. Instead of visiting a country and acting as a bystander, we encourage you to take part in an active personal and cultural exchange.
This year we’re sending volunteer groups to Costa Rica and Guatemala. To learn more, visit us at encountour.com. You can also send us an email ([email protected]) or give us a ring (800-899-3789). We’d love to hear from you.