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CircleUp Education: From Project Lavender to Shaping Futures

Written By Tyrone Botelho

When Tiffany and I first ventured into the world of Restorative Practices back in 2014, our vision was clear, but the path ahead was uncharted. At CircleUp Education, our aspiration was never just about profit. It was, and always will be, about producing equitable social and cultural change in our community.

Our time at a nonprofit in the East Bay was both enlightening and heart-wrenching. It was here that we witnessed the yawning gap between preached values and actual practices. Seeing schools denied essential services due to budgetary constraints and an internal culture plagued by stress and discrimination, we knew something had to change.

Out of this drive for transformation, "Project Lavender" was born—a secret initiative that Tiffany and I conceived to redefine workplace culture and uphold the values we so firmly believed in. We envisioned not just a functional workplace, but a thriving, stress-free environment that could serve as a role model for others.

CircleUp Education officially came to life on August 1st, 2014, in Oakland, California. Those early days, working diligently in our mentor's small home office, are memories I cherish. Our move to a quaint shed in Castro Valley, which we playfully dubbed the "Shed quarters", marked the next phase of our journey. Here, amidst modest surroundings, Tiffany and I designed training programs that would soon become transformative for many school districts.

CircleUp Education Shed quarters

Guiding us through our entrepreneurial journey were Bo and Robin from Youth Business USA. Their mentorship provided us with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate the intricacies of running a business. I can't stress enough how pivotal they were to our early successes.

Bo and Robin =)

One of the most defining moments for CircleUp was in 2016 when we secured a contract with the City of Oakland. This wasn't merely a business milestone; it was an affirmation of our commitment to promoting awareness around implicit bias, equity, and privilege.

Diversity In Action - City of Oakland

As 2017 rolled in, so did an unexpected surge in demand. Our operations grew almost 1800% between 2015 and 2016! While the growth was exhilarating, it also underscored the need for a sustainable vision, leading to the birth of "Project Gold". Our focus was on steady, value-driven growth.

However, nothing could have prepared us for the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought. Transitioning from in-person to online trainings, navigating team changes, and constantly reinventing our strategies became the new norm. Yet, every challenge only made our resolve stronger.

Today, CircleUp is not merely hiring. We are building a team of visionaries, those who share our passion and vision. As we set our sights on both national and global horizons, I invite you to be a part of CircleUp's evolving narrative—a story of resilience, passion, and unwavering commitment.

Our new office plant centerpiece

With gratitude,


Tyrone & Tiffany - 2023

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