BlackRock’s Gives Network empowers employees to be a local force for good.
BlackRock’s founders have always recognized the communities where we live and work as stakeholders of our business. And while Social Impact at BlackRock invests in scalable programs and interventions that break down economic barriers and build financial resilience to strengthen our communities globally, our employees are the agents of local change who shape and guide the firm’s footprint in each community where we operate.
Employees have the opportunity to allocate BlackRock resources at the local level – whether it be banding together to channel support to communities during a crisis or directing funding and talent to address a distinct local need. To further empower and elevate employees as drivers of local impact, we recently launched the Gives Network – a global community of employees committed to making a positive impact in the places where we live and work. Each office Gives chapter is a springboard for colleagues to work collectively and address their community’s needs. Through volunteerism, fundraising and pro-bono support, the Gives Network leverages the power in numbers and combined creativity of BlackRock employees to unlock opportunities to amplify support for local nonprofits.
The Gives Network builds on the foundation of the long-standing Gives Grants program, where employees can nominate any nonprofit tackling a local challenge to receive a grant. First brought to the firm through BlackRock’s acquisition of Barclays Global Investors in 2009, the Gives Grants program rapidly scaled across 22 countries and 16 U.S. states and territories. Each year, 33 employee-led Gives committees review applications submitted by nonprofits that are championed by employees in their local office and decide where to allocate funding. Local nonprofits funded through the Gives program reflect the causes that matter personally to employees in that office – from educational access to homelessness to food security.
Bill Dunigan, a Director and Head of the U.S. Wealth Advisory (USWA) Leveraged Sales Desk in Boston and Atlanta, champions an organization called BUILD, which embeds an entrepreneurship curriculum into high schools across Boston to help address student drop-out rates. In addition to nominating BUILD for a Gives Grant, Bill has rallied a group of USWA employees to volunteer as mentors to the high school students regularly. Bill says that bringing the USWA team together around a purposeful initiative outside of work hours has helped him get to know the people on his team.
“It was an experience that made BlackRock feel like a community,” Bill says. “I found out what was important to my colleagues, and we shared the experience of going out into the community where we worked and where our dollars and volunteer time made an impact.”
Lisa Westermann, an Associate on the Business Management team in Munich, first came across the organization Die Arche when she was given a voluntary project to help them organize a Christmas party during her BlackRock internship. Since then, she has championed Die Arche, which provides social services and educational support to children in need. When Die Arche relocated to a new building, Lisa recruited a team of BlackRock volunteers to help with the moving process and nearly the entire Munich office joined in the effort. Last year, Lisa helped Die Arche navigate the Gives Grant process to receive funding to start an online homeschooling program to keep children engaged with school during the lockdown.
“I never thought this would be such an integral part of my job. It feels enriching to know I’m connecting BlackRock with a local partner who can make an impact,” Lisa says. “I’m grateful to have been part of bridging the needs of Die Arche with the willingness to help of BlackRock employees.”
Abhishek Dike, a Vice President in the Aladdin Product Group in Gurgaon, has championed the Akshaya Patra Foundation, which tackles child hunger in India through its school lunch program. Abhishek hosted meal-packing volunteer events at the Gurgaon office to benefit the organization. He describes the experience of employees coming together to pack hundreds of breakfast baskets for the children as one that fosters a sense of belonging and goodwill across the different teams and businesses.
Head of USWA and Gives Network Global Executive Committee Sponsor Martin Small summed it up best when he shared with employees, “There’s an extraordinary amount of rational apathy. How does my one dollar or one hour actually change anything about the world? But collective action trumps rational apathy. And when you put people together and have them pool their resources and time, you create massive amounts of action.”
We’re proud of our employees’ efforts to support the communities where we live and work.
Note: Photos taken pre Covid-19.