Thursday, October 25, 2012

FRA Lends Support to Greenpeace over APP sourcing

FRA has spoken out to support Greenpeace Southeast Asia in calling for more commitments from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) over its use of rainforest-sourced timber in its products.

Bainbridge Island, WA, October 25, 2012 - Forestry Research Analysis (FRA) has spoken out to support Greenpeace Southeast Asia in calling for more commitments from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) over its use of rainforest-sourced timber in its products.

The statement from Greenpeace’s Bustar Maitar called for APP to make a firm commitment not to use rainforest timber. This follows reports that APP had teamed up with Swiss NGO, The Forest Trust, to try to improve the sustainability of its supply chain.

His statement said, "APP must immediately stop accepting timber from natural forest clearance and confirm that no expansion will take place unless that expansion and the rest of APP's production is wholly reliant on plantation fiber."

FRA, a research and analysis consultancy specializing in sustainable forestry investment issues, agreed adding: "We support Greenpeace's calls for more commitment from APP over its sourcing policies – until we see some concrete evidence that the firm has stopped using timber sourced from rainforests, many onlookers will be taking their plans with a pinch of salt."

Mr Maitar goes on to claim that the association with the Forest Trust is a "PR campaign", while FRA's analysis partner, Peter Collins, added that the issue was particularly concerning as a result of the firm's recent link with a new mill in Sumatra. This mill is expected to have the capacity to process two million tons of timber each year. "Indonesia's rainforest are extremely vulnerable and are still very much at threat from logging," added Mr Collins.

FRA is an advocate of sustainable forestry investment and promotes projects like those run by firms such as Greenwood Management in Brazil and elsewhere. "Investing in plantations projects that are managed on a cyclical model can help to reduce the pressure to use rainforest timber, by providing an alternative that is much less harmful to the environment," added Mr Collins.

Peter Collins
Forestry Research Associates
620 Vineyard Lane
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
(206) 316 8394

Writers SuperCenter Wires Writers Right with Creative Writing Software by ThoughtOffice

Online megastore Writers SuperCenter, the one-stop resource for creative writers, forms strategic partnership with ThoughtOffice Creative & Comedy Writing Software. Selected ThoughtOffice titles will now be offered in bundles or a la carte at Writers SuperCenter's web site.

Norfolk, VA, October 24, 2012 (Straight Line PR) -- ThoughtOffice Corporation, the makers of the eponymous creativity and brainstorming software, ThoughtOffice, has announced a partnership with Writers SuperCenter. The joint venture was developed to provide creative writing software to customers of Writers SuperCenter, and to help provide additional input and direction to ThoughtOffice's next generation offering. This new partnership adds to the already impressive lineup of software for writers offered by Writers SuperCenter.

"We're very happy to announce this new partnership with Writers SuperCenter," said David Lockman, product specialist for ThoughtOffice Corporation. "These guys have been providing writing software to creative professionals since just about the beginning of time, and when they approached us to add ThoughtOffice to their catalog, we were delighted. They're an impressive bunch of folks to be working with."

ThoughtOffice, the successor program to the legendary IdeaFisher brainstorming software ( ), was originally developed to assist communications professionals, by allowing them to expand their thought processes both laterally and in depth. Similarly, Writers SuperCenter was founded specifically to support writers world-wide with the best software available, from a host of vendors.

Irwin Berent of Writers SuperCenter originally contacted ThoughtOffice with the idea of carrying ThoughtOffice's creative writing software on his site ( ). The software company eagerly jumped at the chance to work with such a well-regarded online retailer as Writers SuperCenter. It's turned out to be a great match. Writers SuperCenter is known to writers the world around, and ThoughtOffice software is increasingly becoming the "secret weapon" of choice for writers who really want to expand their creativity.

"I'm excited to finally be working with the folks at ThoughtOffice," says Berent, CEO and owner of Writers SuperCenter. "They have a well-made product, they've been very easy to work with, and are very responsive to my customers. We're looking forward to the coming year, and are expecting this collaboration to be very good for both companies, and for our customers!"

Writers SuperCenter now offers several ThoughtOffice products designed to specifically meet the needs of writers and professional communicators. Novelists will find ThoughtOffice Muse, the creative writing package that's also geared towards corporate executives and speakers, and ThoughtOffice PR Pro ( ), which is designed for public relations professionals in any industry. Customers can order the software for immediate download (or via snail mail on CD) through Writers SuperCenter, with the assurance that comes with ordering from an established online retailer, coupled with the excellent customer support offered by ThoughtOffice Corporation. The software includes online training videos, support and training documents, and a one-year upgrade/sidegrade guarantee. Writers SuperCenter is also bundling ThoughtOffice creativity software in special Combination Deals, which can be found online at

"Irwin's phenomenal to work with," ThoughtOffice CEO Mark Alan Effinger noted. "He's an early adopter - a believer - in the power of software to partner with 'wetware': the writer's brain. He's brought us truly talented customers. And he's given us interesting product ideas that we're planning to explore." Effinger added cryptically, "More on that later!"

About Writers SuperCenter:
Unlike any other store on the Internet, the Writers SuperCenter is the only store that buys writer's software on a massive scale, offering its customers the lowest possible prices. All products are the most up-to-date versions, fully warranted by their manufacturers, and supported by the company's 24 x 7 tech support staff. Writers SuperCenter is a family-owned enterprise, located in Norfolk, VA. Since 1996, the company has been offering the best software for writers through its online store at . For more information, contact the Writers SuperCenter via their web site, or by phone at 1-800-589-1022.

The company also publishes the online magazine Hampton Roads Times, promoting businesses in the Southeastern Virginia metropolitan area, "America's First Region." More information is available at

About ThoughtOffice Corporation:
ThoughtOffice, based in Vancouver, WA, develops and markets tools that empower individuals and organizations to create valuable ideas and improve productivity by enhancing innovation. Founded in 1998, the company produces writing, brainstorming and creativity software, and its sister company, RichContent, provides PR & business services to technology startups and fast-growth companies. The WebNutrients division approaches innovation and creativity via "WetWare" - thought-enhancing nutritional supplements. The company's web site can be found at . ThoughtOffice can be reached by phone at 360-450-6888 or e-mail to

Please contact for corrections or updates.

Press Contact:
David Lockman
Product Specialist
ThoughtOffice Corporation
5640 SE Riverside Way
Vancouver, WA 98661

Mycollege Foundation Partners with Mount St. Mary’s College to Launch Portmont College

Non-profit Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Helps Students With “The Will But Not The Way” Earn Capabilities-Based, Affordable Associates Degrees

Denver, CO, October 24, 2012 - Today, MyCollege Foundation and Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles, announced the launch of Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s, to offer high-quality, transfer-level Associate degrees to high-potential students who have “the will but not the way” to college success. With all-in costs of $5,240 per student per year—approximately the amount of a Federal Pell Grant, Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s will provide access to quality personalized learning solutions and comprehensive wrap-around support services that will ensure high persistence and graduation levels. The MyCollege Foundation concept was developed during the founder’s time as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has also provided early grant support. Portmont College has been developed in close partnership with Mount St. Mary’s College, which is ranked among the top 30 regional universities in the West by US News & World Report. Mount St. Mary’s College is a regionally accredited institution and Portmont students will be eligible to receive Title IV funds while attending the college.

“Portmont is designed to be the springboard for those young adults who have the grit and determination to succeed, but who face burdens and barriers, financial or otherwise, that could limit that success,” said Srikant Vasan, Founder and President of Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s. “In partnership with Mount St. Mary’s College, we have created top quality, yet affordable, Associate’s degree programs that combine rigorous academics with critical supports and resources to ensure students can not only access, but complete the high-quality education necessary to build careers and create futures for themselves.”

“Portmont offers a degree attainment option for underserved students through a scalable and cost-effective model,” said Josh Jarrett, Deputy Director of Postsecondary Success, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We are pleased to see this idea, conceived while Srikant was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the foundation, come to life. This model is designed to deliver a rigorous academic program for students who have more motivation than means and connect them to opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have.”

“Mount St. Mary’s has had a longstanding commitment to educating the underserved. This new, exciting partnership brings this commitment and our top-quality curriculum together with Portmont’s innovations in pedagogy, technology, and student supports to offer a high quality, personalized educational experience to thousands of new students. The launch of Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s will help address the national challenge of broadening access to high quality education at lower costs,” said Dr. Ann McElaney-Johnson, President of Mount St. Mary’s College.

Building Capabilities Needed For Long-Term Success

The college anticipates launching four blended Associate degree programs that combine the best of personalized online education with in-person student cohorts, supports, and social learning opportunities: Business Administration, Computer Science, Liberal Arts, and Pre-Health Science. These programs have been uniquely developed with Portmont’s target student population in mind. From its personalized learning environment that tracks mastery of course material to prescriptive course sequencing and social and problem-based learning approaches, the Portmont experience has been carefully designed to ensure its students’ success and prepare its graduates to transfer to an elite four-year degree institution or launch their career.

The hallmark of the Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s curriculum is its focus on core capabilities that students will need for long-term career success. This includes curriculum designed to advance skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, communications, information literacy, teamwork, performance character, and learning to learn. Unlike other institutions, these core capabilities are not only taught, but developed and measured at a student level multiple times within each course. Students, their potential employers, and the Portmont community of support will consistently have visibility into a student’s progress along these core capabilities.

“Portmont students will graduate with not just a high quality, respected degree, but also the ability to think clearly, work well in teams, and communicate effectively,” said Srikant Vasan. “They will have what they need to succeed in the workforce and in their communities.”

Creating Meaningful Connections

Portmont students will be part of a connected, supportive community of faculty, coaches, and peers. It starts with the Portmont “Success Launch Process,” which goes beyond the cognitive topics typically addressed by college success courses and utilizes a series of four courses to develop intrapersonal and interpersonal skills correlated to work and life success. Before being accepted to Portmont, prospective students attend the “Launch Pad” – a free three-week online course that provides an opportunity for the college to observe students’ online course taking behavior first-hand, as student behavior is one of the primary criteria for gaining admission into the full Portmont program. If successful, students will advance to “Ignition” – an intensive in-person, one-week experiential learning program to absorb the college culture, and bond with their Success Coach and the 15 cohort peers who will form their support community. These student cohorts start coursework together and provide mutual help and support through social media tools. During the students’ first two academic terms they will continue the sequence in the “Lift Off” and “Soar” courses to reinforce the concepts learned in prior courses and provide ongoing support. Throughout their Portmont experience, students will have a personal support network of success coaches and faculty who will continually tailor proactive interventions using student-specific academic and behavioral data.

Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s will work with community partners, such as charter schools, public schools, and community organizations to identify students with grit and determination but also the burdens and barriers to success. The admissions team will evaluate candidates based primarily on their grit, motivation, and resilience. Given the community-centricity and the need for holistic, blended student supports, Portmont will launch and grow city-by-city starting in Denver, Colorado, and followed next by San Francisco, California. Once the model is working well in Denver and San Francisco, Portmont plans to admit students from additional cities nationwide.

Cultivating a Student-Centric Team

In addition to the administrative and faculty leadership at Mount St. Mary’s College, which has been intimately involved in the development and approval of its curriculum, Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s assembled a team of seasoned professionals, including:

* Srikant Vasan, President: Former Senior program officer at Gates Foundation, co-founder & CEO of StorePerform and KBkids, Founding team member and director of business development of MediaOne, Consultant at McKinsey & Co.

* Dr. Vernon Smith, Provost: Former Vice President of Academic Affairs at Rio Salado College, a nationally recognized online college with tens of thousands of online students. Serves on the board of directors of EDUCAUSE.

* Dr. Michael Cottam, Dean of Instruction: Former Associate Dean of Instruction at Rio Salado College and a certified Quality Matters Reviewer.

* Lucas Budman, Chief Technology Officer: Former Vice President and Head of Technology for Cognilytics, Director of Research for RedPrairie and Store Perform Technologies and Senior Architect for Xcel Energy Markets.

* Ann Marie O’Connor, Vice President of Product Management: Former Director of Retail Strategy at RedPrairie and product management for StorePerform.

* Dr. Jim Knickerbocker, Director of Student Engagement: Former Managing Director of Academy for College Excellence, Organizational development consultant at Hewlett-Packard.

* Shannon Neumann, Director of Enrollment Management: Former Director of Enrollment Management for Ivy Bridge College of Tiffin University.

Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s is now accepting student applications, and it will host its first three-week Success Launch Pad Course in December with the first academic semester beginning on March 4, 2013. Portmont will offer rolling admission there after.

About Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s
Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s is a non-profit joint venture between Mount St. Mary’s College and MyCollege Foundation. Through Mount St. Mary’s College, a national, non-profit, regionally accredited institution, it offers high-quality, transfer-level Associate degrees to high-potential students who have “the will but not the way” to college success. With all-in costs of $5,240 per student per year – approximately the amount of a Federal Pell Grant – students have affordable access to quality personalized learning solutions, comprehensive wrap-around support services, and post-program placement, ensuring high persistence and graduation levels. For more information, visit

About Mount St. Mary’s, Los Angeles;
Founded in 1925, Mount St. Mary’s College is a Catholic, liberal arts college where excellence and innovation define its every endeavor. Mount St. Mary’s provides a dynamic education to a diverse student body that primarily includes women, first-generation students and other underserved populations. Mount St. Mary’s offers associate and bachelor’s degrees for women, as well as undergraduate and graduate programs for working adults on two historic campuses in Los Angeles. The mission of Mount St. Mary’s is to provide a superior education enhanced by an emphasis on building leadership skills and fostering a spirit to serve others.

About MyCollege Foundation:
MyCollege Foundation, is a 501c(3) public charity and a grantee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It aims to help low-income youth in America gain high quality college credentials more affordably. It has partnered with Mount St. Mary’s College to establish Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s, and provides Portmont College with the funding and the pedagogical, technology, and student support innovations it needs to succeed in its mission.

Lindsey Read
3225 East 2nd Avenue
Denver, CO 80206
937 408 9321