I first walked into the Abacus Wealth Partners office for an impact investing event almost two years ago. The tangibly open environment struck me. The sun was beaming from the many windows that lined the perimeter of the space. All enclosed offices had simple translucent doors, and the concrete floor, which unfortunately accentuated the sound of my heels, felt grounding. The kitchen had a whiteboard with an organic-filled grocery list, and fresh fruit sat on the first table I saw. In the back, a cluster of standing desks and comfy red chairs filled the area. I took a second, attempting to be present amidst a new experience, and the aura of clarity, warmth, light, accessibility and collaboration permeated the space as well as me.
Now I work here every day, as a “Changemaker” (we get to pick our own titles), helping clients improve the alignment of their values with their investments and philanthropic grants. I’ve come to realize how much the office mirrors the company’s vision. The culture is as open and warm as you feel when you physically walk into the Abacus space.
The Abacus universe is unbarred, clear and full of possibility going hand in hand with the decision to be a founding B Corp. The Abacus mission strives to “expand what’s possible with money,” aligning with one of our core values to “serve others.” A facet of that value is to donate 5% of the firm’s annual profits to charity. Part of that money is allocated to the annual Abacus Wealth Partners Charitable Grant, which for 2015 is $10,000. The applicants are screened by an in-house committee, based on meeting one or more of the following principles:
- Catalyze self-sufficiency (i.e., microfinance, clean water, medicine, poverty alleviation, hunger)
- Reduce the environmental impact of economic activities (i.e., initiatives to reduce global warming, environmental and economic strains on the world’s poorest communities, etc.)
- Increase financial literacy
Investing in Self-Sufficiency for 500 Girls
For 2015, we are pleased to award our grant to the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) peer education program.
In Uganda, JGI empowers young girls through a peer-led model designed to reduce school dropout rates by addressing social, cultural and economic barriers that limit their ability to access education to improve their quality of life. Increasing access for women and girls improves their socioeconomic prospects.
The program stood out because it allows us to invest in self-sufficiency for 500 girls globally through access to education to lift themselves out of poverty and provide for their family. JGI will utilize the $10,000 to:
- Mentor 500 girls
- Train 40 peer educators
- Enable an estimated 50 girls who have dropped out of school to resume their education
- Provide 200 modesty kits
- Provide scholastic supplies to 20 schools
We track these impact metrics to ensure that we get a high social return on our grant and to connect the dots to expand what’s possible with money. For more information on the JGI peer education program, please visit www.janegoodall.org/what-we-do/gender-and-health/peer-education/.
On that first night I walked into the Abacus office, I heard words that have impacted me ever since. Brent Kessel, our CEO, was speaking on impact investing and voiced that some of us win the womb lottery and some of us don’t. That statement burned visually and emotionally, but it also reminded me that this open world I entered into was created with intent and a desire for change. The walls I stood within were symbols of the people inside, who had minds to break walls down for the greater good of mankind—and let’s face it, money plays a huge role in that. Hopefully, with our support of JGI, there will be a young girl in Uganda who, due to the peer education program, will look at walls as breakable, and the womb she grew in as simply her start but one that won’t limit her future.