Colleagues rally to support communities

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What do you get when you bring together 73 nonprofit organizations and more than 450 Charles Schwab employees across nine cities nationwide, all collaborating to make a difference in their communities? Philanthropic magic!

This force for good, known as the Pro Bono Challenge — now in its fourth year — benefits not only the local organizations that are involved, but Schwab employees and their communities, as well.

“The Pro Bono Challenge was born when our employees told us they wanted a deeper engagement with the nonprofits in their communities,” says Jennifer Davis, who serves as managing director, communications, for Schwab’s Community Services and Foundation teams. “We have an incredibly skilled and community-minded workforce here at Schwab. Our employees were eager to use their expertise to help strengthen local nonprofits in their efforts to tackle tough issues.”

Known for being one of the largest annual skills-based days of service in the corporate world, the event connects employees with nonprofits to help them address strategic questions related to expansion, branding, operations, IT and more.

One of the volunteers at a Pro Bono Challenge event.

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Here’s how it works: Months before the events — which are held throughout the fall at Schwab’s major employment centers around the country — nonprofit organizations apply to work with a team of talented Schwab employees, or “Schwabbies,” on a problem they’re trying to solve. Once chosen, leaders from each non-profit and Schwab employee teams then meet face-to-face for an intense day of brainstorming, planning and problem solving, with each group leaving at the end of the day with a path forward.

While the time spent brainstorming together only spans five hours, teams dedicate much more time than that both in the lead-up to the event and, oftentimes, in follow-up with the participating organizations to ensure they’re on the right track — all at no charge to the non-profit groups.

A client is all smiles at a Pro Bono Challenge event.

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For Malcolm Douglas, who works for the Big Shoulders Fund in Chicago, the Schwab Pro Bono Challenge represents a chance for his organization to gain a new perspective on ways to support inner-city schools in their efforts to provide values-based education to area children and young adults.

“We are excited to be a part of the Pro Bono Challenge because of the possibility that some great new ideas could be generated to address our challenges,” he said. “We are looking for unique, out-of-the-box thinking.”

In Indianapolis, Arvetta Jideonwo leads Bosma Visionary Opportunities Foundation, which works to provide employment and vision rehabilitation for people who are visually impaired or blind.

“Seventy percent of people who are blind or faced with a serious visual impairment are unemployed on a national basis,” says Arvetta. “Charles Schwab is a longtime partner of our organization. This is our second consecutive year participating in the Pro Bono Challenge and it’s been a great benefit to us. We’re also proud to say we’ve welcomed Schwab employees to our volunteer events for the past 10 years.”

The Pro Bono Challenge was born when our employees told us they wanted a deeper engagement with the nonprofits in their communities. We have an incredibly skilled and community-minded workforce here at Schwab. Our employees were eager to use their expertise to help strengthen local nonprofits in their efforts to tackle tough issues.

Jennifer Davis

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While this infusion of time, talent and expertise helps local nonprofit organizations expand their impact in their communities, the event’s benefits also extend to those lending a hand: the Schwab employees themselves. David Gudal, who works for the firm’s Investor Services organization and was charged with leading the Pro Bono Challenge at Schwab’s Indianapolis campus this year, says employees connect to the event in several ways. “For us, the Challenge is part contributing to our communities and working to make a difference. But also giving back to these groups, which some of us have benefited from firsthand. It shows why supporting these organizations is so terribly important.”

For Deana Goodwin, who works in marketing at Schwab’s Lone Tree Campus in Colorado, the Pro Bono Challenge has had an unexpected benefit in the two years that she has participated. “(It) brings me closer to my colleagues. It brings me closer to my community,” she says. “I’m back to volunteer this year because last year I really got to see how I could make a difference.”

And that difference is felt in a variety of ways, according to Mark Clavey, who works in Corporate Real Estate at Schwab’s Chicago location. “I am able to give my unique skill set to a non-profit with the support and encouragement of my employer. That really means a lot.”

To learn more about Schwab’s philanthropic efforts in communities nationwide, visit www.aboutschwab.com/giving-back.

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