Global Community Institute (GCI) is a nonprofit educational organization formed in Bellingham in 1988. Explorations Academy is a core program of the Global Community Institute.
The founders of GCI were motivated by two needs: the need for effective strategies that fully engage and provide meaning for learners and the need for educational organizations that address issues of social justice and ecological balance.
From 1988 through 1991, the founders worked to define the vision of the organization, designing programs, drafting a mission statement and writing articles of incorporation. In 1991 GCI became incorporated and began running its first programs. These were chiefly summer field courses for youth, emphasizing interpersonal skills and environmental education, as well as professional development seminars for educators.
In 1993, GCI became a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, which allowed us to invest our full energy into the creation of a top-quality, experientially oriented school. The school, then called Explorations High School, began operating in the spring of 1995 as a pilot program and moved into full operation in the fall of 1995. In 1998 we gained full accreditation as a secondary school and have been linking experiential education with academic challenge ever since. We also continue to serve educators through our professional development program.
Accreditation provides an objective, external assessment of a school’s organizational and academic integrity. Accreditation also ensures that students graduating from Explorations Academy will have their credits and transcripts honored by any accredited college or university. We are proud to be fully accredited through the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), a division of AdvancED.
In 2008, Explorations Academy joined the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS). NWAIS accredits only non-public institutions, and in some ways has a more complex and demanding accreditation process than AdvancED. We plan to initiate the process of becoming a an accredited member of NWAIS in the next five years. This move is indicative of our commitment to continuous quality improvement, and we are currently working toward full NWAIS accreditation.