Rising to the challenge to support Military and Veterans nonprofits

November 24, 2020
As part of Charles Schwab’s first-ever “Military Pro Bono Challenge”, a few new Schwabbies joined with members of Schwab's Military Veterans Network (MVN) to put their professional skills to work for military- and veteran-focused nonprofits.

By Kristine Carl, Senior Manager, Communications

My dad is a Vietnam War veteran decorated with a Bronze Star medal for heroic achievement and a Purple Heart medal for the battle wound that nearly ended his life. I am very proud of his courage and selfless service to our country and, while I have never served, I know he is proud of the fact that I work for Charles Schwab – a company entrusted with the vital task of building the financial futures of members of the military community.

While Schwab has long been an employer of choice for veterans, military personnel, and their spouses, it was earlier this year that we deepened our relationship with the military community, becoming the exclusive provider of wealth management and investment brokerage services for USAA members. At the time, nearly 400 former USAA employees joined Schwab to help support the more than one million new accounts coming to Schwab. In November, some of those new Schwabbies joined with members of the company’s Military Veterans Network (MVN) to put their professional skills to work for military- and veteran-focused nonprofits as part of Charles Schwab’s first-ever “Military Pro Bono Challenge.”

For the past 8 years, Schwab has hosted a Pro Bono Challenge—a “flash consulting” event wherein teams of highly skilled employees partner with local nonprofits to address pre-defined challenges in areas such as operations, marketing, technology, human resources, and client relations. Leveraging Schwab’s professional expertise for critical organizational projects strengthens high-impact nonprofits to serve their communities even better. It also strengthens our employee community. This inaugural Military PBC, which complemented our annual PBC, was designed to foster collaboration between the new Schwabbies and members of the MVN, to honor the unique skills and passions of our new USAA colleagues, and to leverage the strength and community-focus of our MVN.

“This wasn’t your typical Pro Bono Challenge, but was crafted for us as a group to welcome us to Schwab,” says John Sheehan, a legacy USAA employee and a co-lead of the Military Pro Bono Challenge. The new Schwabbies partnered with the MVN to serve six nonprofits across Texas, Colorado, and Florida over the course of a week. Thirty-eight employees participated, offering skills-based volunteer consulting valued at $70,200. Sheehan continued, “Most of the employees have such a strong commitment to serving the military community, they want to get involved in whatever way they can. Service is their calling, their passion, and they regard opportunities to volunteer on behalf of veterans and the military as an extension of their careers.”

PeopleFund, a nonprofit participating in this year’s event, delivers small business loans and education to veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs as well as other underserved populations. The Schwab team—participating virtually from locations across the United States to help the Austin, TX-based nonprofit—provided marketing and technology consulting focused on improving the user experience and data generation of PeopleFund’s app. Grant Bennett, PeopleFund’s Director of Veteran Programs, was excited by the team’s contributions, saying “I’m really just so taken aback. Both sets of UX recommendations were absolutely tremendous. I didn’t know how to convey exactly what we wanted, but you picked up on it and ran with it. I’m thankful that you’re all here…I’m going to email your CEO this afternoon and sing your praises!”

"We have an incredibly skilled and community-minded workforce here at Schwab,” said Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation. “These employees, who serve the military community in their work every day, were eager to use their expertise to help strengthen local military and veteran nonprofits in their efforts to tackle tough issues. We are so proud to have these highly-skilled and experienced folks as part of our team.”

Nonprofits that participated in the Military Pro Bono Challenge included:

This year’s event – which is a component of Schwab’s new CommUNITY 2020 virtual volunteering program— was our first but won’t be our last. “We had more people sign up to volunteer this year than we had seats to fill,” said Sheehan. “Knowing that, hopefully we’ll be able to organize around more military-based nonprofits next year so we can have an even greater impact.”