Investing in Wealth Mobility

William Blair’s Capital Collective Initiative for Wealth Building

Nancy Bonges – Director, Community Engagement
Renee Marongwe – Lead Philanthropic Advisor        
Paige LaCour – Sr. Community Engagement Associate

Investing in the community has always been part of the culture of William Blair, a global financial services firm and wealth advisor. It is a tradition that began with our founder nearly 90 years ago and continues today.

Engaging in our communities is embedded into William Blair’s mission, and our approach to philanthropy is 100% employee-led and employee-inspired. William Blair supports over 1,000 charities annually through volunteerism, board service, and matching grants.

William Blair’s unique employee-inspired philanthropy continues to lean into doing good with what we’re good at doing by leveraging our differentiated talent. Through the Capital Collective, we utilize our firm’s core competencies and connections to advance financial empowerment through the lens of wealth-building.

Why wealth-building?

There is no shortage of excellent financial literacy programs out there. We want to go beyond literacy and be intentional in creating futures where wealth and prosperity are achievable.

Building upon basic financial literacy concepts, we’ll lay wealth-building foundations on investing and accessing capital. Today’s minor behavioral and networking pivots can lead to vastly different and more prosperous futures.

“Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” can only go so far. There are systemic barriers to accessing and building wealth, and we aim to accelerate access to and accumulation of wealth through connections.

We have a distinct ecosystem of brilliant clients, talented colleagues, and remarkable community partners. Convening diverse minds will empower our Capital Collective network to unlock new ideas in entrepreneurship, create opportunities to invest in female-founded businesses, and accelerate pathways into finance careers.

Does the Capital Collective involve a curriculum?

There is no curriculum, and it’s a bespoke learning experience we build for our Global Community Partners. We made the framework with a human-centered design approach with Rocket Social Impact.

As we hosted focus groups with nonprofit partners and other beneficiaries, we repeatedly heard two things: 1) they needed an engaging learning experience, and 2) ideally, we can fit our content and engagement into their existing programs and meet participants where they are.

As a result, we designed our Capital Collective to incorporate our employees’ skillsets as speakers, pro-bono advisors and coaches, and workshop facilitators. We carefully collaborate with each Community Partner to co-create a customized and meaningful experience.

For example, we provided speakers and facilitators for the first session of a 10-week cohort experience for YWCA’s Breedlove program for Black women entrepreneurs. We covered the essential topics of mindset, networking, identifying their purpose of capital, and how to pitch to investors.

This summer, our employees will support first-generation wealth earners by increasing access to the tools and resources needed to build and grow wealth. William Blair will hire and mentor Greenwood Project Scholars interns to give hands-on experience, a robust network in the financial services industry, and learn how to manage their finances effectively, make investment decisions, and build a solid financial foundation for themselves and their families.

What learnings do you have for the CSR field in implementing a new program?

To approach it with curiosity and humility. As corporate citizenship professionals, we are often used to dictating social impact goals and KPIs.

Effective initiatives should center on the voices of those most impacted by the program. For us, that involves our employees, our nonprofit partners, and their beneficiaries. We incorporated their insights through numerous focus groups and interviews as we iterated on our framework and design.

The concepts of empathy and customer-centricity that lead to technological innovations can also lead to meaningful insights into social impact. We plan to iterate, constantly gain feedback from stakeholders, continuously improve our Capital Collective initiative, inspire future generations of wealth-builders, and grow prosperity in our communities and beyond.

For additional information on how William Blair engages with and invests in the communities in which our colleagues live and work, please visit our Community Engagement website or reach out to our Community Engagement inbox.

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