Academy Internet has today announced its achievement of the Business in the Community “Communitymark” kitemark standard.

Academy Internet is the first e-learning and internet marketing company to be awarded Communitymark in the UK having gained the highest mark of any company in the IT sector.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has until recently been viewed as an issue that only large companies could afford to be interested in and Academy Internet has demonstrated this is no longer the case. Academy Internet achieved 41 marks out of a possible 44 for its CSR programme which is completely aligned with its business and marketing strategy and which has contributed to Academy Internet growing its business by a further 60% during 2006.

Academy Internet has been told by some clients that its CSR programme was a “significant” factor for winning their business; Academy Internet’s clients include Specsavers, National Trust, MoD, Antler, fish4, Brighton and Hove Council, Royal College of Nursing, Legal and General, Emap and IPC Media amongst others.

Commenting on why Academy Internet invests in CSR activities, Jason Woodford said, "Communitymark helped us to really think about what we do and why we do it. The result is much better focus on doing fewer things much better so our modest resources can actually make a noticeable difference for our partners. We now have a business case for our community activities to build on the social interest which got us started in the first place"

The Communitymark assessor commented, “You have achieved high rewards in a very short space of time. Excellent performance – the benefits of participation in Community activity are clear to see.”

Academy Internet’s CSR strategy was developed with the help of the Brighton and Hove Business Community Partnership and is now focussed on the following three core themes which guide all CSR activities:

• Education – “giving people opportunities to make the most of their talents so they can realise and achieve their potential”
• Sustainability – “where working over the internet will deliver environmental benefits”
• Personal interests of employees or close business partners where it is related to education or health

Academy Internet’s four current CSR partners include Action for Change http://www.action-for-change.org/ , Young Enterprise http://www.young-enterprise.org.uk/pub/ University of Brighton http://www.brighton.ac.uk/ and the Brighton and Hove e-learning Alliance http://www.be-la.co.uk/about.htm whilst in 2007 Academy Internet will be developing a strategic partnership with Sussex Wildlife Trust http://www.sussexwt.org.uk/ .

During 2006 Academy Internet staff have provided training and work placements, entrepreneurial skills advice and training as well as internet skills and advice to its partners and their stakeholders. For example, Academy Internet got involved with a project to train and place NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) young people into the New Media and Digital Media employment sector in Brighton with Action for Change.

The student, "Gary" started on the 1st March 2006 and received a full induction, a task list, a mentor and agreed a set of rules within which the relationship would be conducted. He achieved some internet marketing work, some market research, some word processing and even organised a meeting for staff members. Most importantly he was able to get to work on time!

The project also resulted in a deeper understanding of Academy Internet’s internal skills and interests as well as improvements in productivity and recruitment profile. Out of 18 full time employees, 56% of employees found they were able to improve their training, mentoring and organisation skills.

The most positive aspect of this project is that it cemented the relationship between Action for Change and Academy Internet for future, more strategic working. Action for Change have gained an enthusiastic employer sponsor which is committed to working strategically over the longer term to help deliver their challenging but worthwhile objectives. "The relationship has been a bonus which we had not anticipated at the outset, but one that is very welcome", John Reading CE of Action for Change

Academy Internet is growing its revenues by more than 60% per annum and is on track to becoming one of the top 25 digital media businesses in the UK within 3 years.

About Communitymark
The Business in the Community CommunityMark standard is a kite mark that acknowledges businesses that demonstrate good investment into the community. HRH the Prince of Wales launched CommunityMark at the HMRC Corporate Responsibility Summit in London. CommunityMark is a new standard to recognise companies’ investment in the community and was developed by Business in the Community in partnership with private, public and voluntary sector organisations. The Prince shared a platform for the first time with Chancellor Gordon Brown who also gave his support to the Mark. Read more about Communitymark here http://www.bitc.org.uk/programmes/programme_directory/communitymark/index.html

About Brighton and Hove Business Community Partnership
Brighton and Hove Business Community Partnership (BCP) brings together commercial, community and voluntary sector organisations to support community development and encourage social entrepreneurship. More about BCP here www.bhbcp.org.uk

About Academy Internet
Academy Internet (www.academyinternet.com) is a specialist Internet Marketing and e-learning consultancy based in Brighton which operates across the UK and into Europe. The company has achieved rapid profitable growth since 2002 with a target turnover nearing £1m in 2006. Academy Internet values long term relationships and its dedication to customer service and return on investment has resulted in 60% of turnover being generated from repeat business and referrals. As an Investor in People, Academy Internet's highly trained employees and Associates deliver Internet Strategy, e-Learning strategy and content, Internet Marketing and Website Design services to established high quality standards. Customers have the choice of either improving internal skills through training in these areas or by outsourcing to its experts within a robust service level agreement which is targeted on return on investment.

Academy Internet is the first e-learning company to achieve the Business in the Community “CommunityMark”, achieving the highest score of any IT company in the UK.

For more information and photographs please contact:
Jason Woodford, Development Director, Academy Internet, 01273 733433
jason.woodford@academyinternet.com

Published on: 12:00AM on 28th November 2006