2016 Community Leadership Awards finalists named

The Invest in Others Charitable Foundation and InvestmentNews have recognized the philanthropic efforts of 15 advisers and 10 financial firms

Sep 25, 2016 @ 12:01 am

By Ellie Zhu, Deborah Nason and Liz Skinner

SWAT team: Steven Tonkinson (center) volunteers for ShelterBox USA, an emergency response organization that provides temporary shelter to victims of natural disasters. He is a finalist for the Global Community Impact award.
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SWAT team: Steven Tonkinson (center) volunteers for ShelterBox USA, an emergency response organization that provides temporary shelter to victims of natural disasters. He is a finalist for the Global Community Impact award.

The Invest in Others Charitable Foundation and InvestmentNews have recognized the philanthropic efforts of 15 advisers and 10 financial firms, naming them as finalists for the 2016 Community Leadership Awards.

The 10th annual awards will be given to five advisers, one from each of five separate categories, and two firms at an awards dinner Thursday at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York.

Finalists up for the adviser awards worked with a range of causes including medical research, suicide prevention and youth development. The five winners each will receive a charitable contribution of up to $25,000. Charities of the remaining 10 finalists each will receive a $5,000 check.

“These 15 advisers have raised over $14 million in the past three years and spend an average of 30 hours per month volunteering to make a difference,” said Megan McAuley, executive director of Invest in Others. “These individuals are truly making an impact, and we're thrilled to recognize them for it.”

The finalists were nominated by their peers and selected by a volunteer committee based on leadership, dedication, contribution, inspiration and impact on the communities they worked to help, she said.

STANDOUTS

They were chosen from hundreds of nominations received by the foundation.

This is the second year the foundation and InvestmentNews are giving out Corporate Philanthropy Awards, recognizing firms that have creatively incentivized employee-giving through programs like volunteering time off, matching gifts and events.

One of the five financial advice firms and one of the five financial institutions that are finalists will be given awards, which include a $1,000 donation to a charity of their choice.

Last year, employees and leaders of the 10 finalist firms volunteered 107,000 hours and had an average employee participation rate of 76%, Ms. McCauley said.

Jeff Owens Jeffrey M. Owens
Jeffrey M. Owens

BPG Wealth Management for Children's Cancer Association

The music specialists sent by the Children's Cancer Association to work with pediatric cancer patients are a “game changer,” said Jeffrey M. Owens, president of BPB Wealth Management in Clackamas, Ore.

“The kids now say 'At least the hospital is fun,'” he said.

Mr. Owens has been involved with the charity since 1999, when it offered respite and emotional support to his family when his young daughter was being treated for cancer.

Since that time, he has been an active volunteer and fundraiser, raising more than $1 million for the non-profit.

The charity's flagship program, MyMusicRx, brings therapeutic music to hospitals — including sing-alongs, mobile music carts and live concerts. The innovative program is currently running a clinical trial to measure the healing effects of customized therapeutic music on postoperative pediatric patients, in partnership with Randall Children's Hospital.

Other programs include the “Caring Cabin” on the Oregon coast, where families and sick children can stay for free on weekends; and the Chemo Pal mentor program, which matches adult buddies with young patients, providing respite care and companionship that gives parents a little time break.

What keeps Mr. Owens involved?

“The satisfaction of just helping,” he said. “I will never forget the emotion I felt when they reached out to my family so many years ago.”

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Frank Lento Frank Lento
FRANK LENTO

Merrill Lynch for the Institute for Educational Achievement

In 1996, a small group of parents with children newly diagnosed with autism were all hitting the same brick wall.

At the time — and even now — educational programs for children with autism were few and far between. Waiting lists for the most effective programs were years-long.

Frank Lento, senior vice president of wealth management at Merrill Lynch in Paramus, N.J., wanted the best for his toddler Kate. He and the other parents decided to take charge of their children's fates and founded their own school: the Institute for Educational Achievement.

“My wife and I were told there was a good chance our daughter would never speak,” he said. “Deep down, we knew better. We said 'Now we've got to go to war. We have to get this done for her.'”

A board member for 18 years, Mr. Lento has provided financial guidance and helped raise millions to build and maintain the tuition-free school.

IEA serves about 30 students, ages six to 21, with 30 teachers providing one-on-one attention.

Twenty students have graduated so far, including Kate, who now works at a job she loves.

“These 20 graduates have saved the economy about $60 million dollars,” Mr. Lento said. “They're not going to be a burden to society because they'll transition into regular schools and regular life and regular jobs.”

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Gerard Klingman Gerard Klingman
Gerard Klingman

Klingman & Associates for Best Buddies International

The folks at Best Buddies have an audacious goal: to make it natural and normal to hire and be friends with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said Gerard Klingman, president of Klingman & Associates in New York City.

The IDD community includes those with Down syndrome, autism, fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and other disabilities.

Mr. Klingman has been closely involved with Best Buddies since 1991, when he was contacted by founder Anthony Kennedy Shriver, who was continuing the work begun by his mother Eunice Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics decades earlier.

Best Buddies programs, now in 50 states and 50 countries, focus on four major divisions:

Student friendships: Middle-school, high-school and college students are matched one-on-one with individuals with disabilities.

Employee friendships: The same program as with students is offered to employees in the workplace.

Leadership development: Program participants receive training to speak and advocate for themselves.

Job placement: Employers are encouraged to hire members of the IDD community, especially for white-collar jobs such as mail room or data-entry work.

“Oftentimes, this population doesn't have any friends outside the family,” Mr. Klingman said. “They suffer from social, physical, and economic isolation. Our programs are life-changing.”

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Volunteer of the year

Mary Lou Arveseth Mary Lou Arveseth
Mary Lou Arveseth

Financial Network for the Utah chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Mary Lou Arveseth, a designated sup-ervisor at Financial Network in Draper, Utah, co-founded the Utah chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2010 after her son committed suicide the year before.

“We were stranded on a desert island of grief,” she said. “We had no resources to help us cope.”

Information is crucial.

“It was comforting to me to eventually learn that more than 90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness at the time of death,” Ms. Arveseth said.

The new chapter tapped into a significant unmet need.

“We're stunned by the growth of the chapter and the interest,” she said. “We can't keep up with it.”

The chapter has achieved much in its short history, including:

• Getting bills passed requiring suicide prevention education for all school employees and parents' nights on suicide prevention in all schools.

• Providing suicide awareness, prevention and response training across the state.

• Instituting a fundraising walk, providing widespread awareness, hope and comfort to bereaved families and friends. In 2015, about 4,000 people raised more than $100,000.

• Decreasing the statewide ranking of suicide from the No. 3 cause of death in 2015 to No. 5 in 2016. “Please remember this national hotline number: 800-273-TALK,” Ms. Arveseth said.

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Ryan Harman Ryan Harman
Ryan Harman

Edward Jones for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Inc.

"Where you are is as much therapy as what you're doing,” said Ryan Harman, an Edward Jones financial adviser in Hendersonville, N.C., ex- plaining the basis of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.

The mission of the nonprofit is to provide physical and emotional rehabilitation for disabled active military personnel and disabled veterans through fly-fishing, education and outings.

“The fishing is the tool to get to the end result,” Mr. Harman said. “It's a completely benign, nonthreatening activity. They get so much by just being out in nature.”

The participants are referred by physical therapists, occupational therapists and counselors from the Veterans Administration. Activities are coordinated with national and local fishing clubs.

Currently, there are 212 programs throughout the U.S., Canada and Germany. In 2015, 3,500 volunteers helped 7,400 disabled vets and service members.

“Everyone involved gets an opportunity to interact with vets at a very low point in their lives,” Mr. Harman said. “They have life-altering injuries, both physical and psychological. They really need some support to move forward in their lives.”

“Fly-fishing, rivers — this is my quiet place,” he said. “I couldn't think of a better way to say thank you to these vets than sharing something that's been so important in my life.”

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Chad Coe Chad Coe
Chad Coe

Coe Financial Group for Special Kids Network

The experience of Chad Coe, president and CEO of Coe Financial Group in Deerfield, Ill., goes to show that you never know where childhood influences may lead you.

In 1999, inspired by his nephew, he founded the Special Kids Network to raise funds for organizations that help intellectually impaired children and young adults.

“My vision and inspiration came from my childhood, where I didn't feel like I was included,” Mr. Coe said. “I wanted to create a nonprofit that had the ability to raise money for charities that couldn't do it themselves, who were left out of mainstream fundraising.”

Since its inception, the all-volunteer charity led by Mr. Coe has raised about $4 million for small local and national charities, often chosen by the fundraising volunteers themselves.

Recipients include Keshet (an organization that serves children and adults with special needs), the National Stuttering Association, the Foundation for Retinal Research and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Two annual events — a golf and tennis tournament and a poker night — raise about $200,000 per year for charities.

If you want to start a charity, go for it, Mr. Coe advises.

“If you believe that what you're doing can help others, be inspired to create your own vision,” he said. “I try to play without fear. Everything always has a way of working out.”

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Community Service

Trent Bryson Trent Bryson
Trent Bryson

Bryson Financial for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach

Trent Bryson, CEO of Bryson Financial in Long Beach, Calif., is currently chairman of the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach, which serves more than 4,200 children annually in after-school programs in 11 facilities.

Services focus on character and leadership, education and career development, health and life skills, fitness and social recreation, and the arts.

In addition to being a 10-year member of the board, Mr. Bryson spent five years as a Boys & Girls Clubs member in his youth.

As chairman, he has taken an innovative approach, instituting direct communications between board members and staff. The 30 board members break out into small meetings, each with a member of the six-person staff, to discuss program accomplishments and needs.

The change has made a difference.

“By taking them out of their traditional hands-off roles, we now have totally engaged board members,” Mr. Bryson said. “They're doing what they're interested in and helping the staffers do what they want to do, giving them a voice.”

Unmet needs have been uncovered and solutions offered, such as a new theater program, soccer activities and training in public speaking.

“I want to make this city better, and the best way for me to do it is to give the kids an opportunity to be successful,” Mr. Bryson said.

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Daniel C. Jones Daniel C. Jones
Daniel C. Jones

Raymond James for The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis

Dan Jones is a man guided by gratitude and patience.

After surviving a devastating car accident in 1999 that left him paralyzed from the chest down, he went on to build a successful career in financial services and now serves as branch manager and senior vice president for Raymond James & Associates in Jenkintown, Pa.

“I have lived a very full and active life as a paraplegic,” Mr. Jones said. “I have been blessed beyond explanation.”

Wishing to help others less fortunate, especially quadriplegics, in 2004 he co-founded and since then has run the Philadelphia chapter of the Buoniconti Fund, the fundraising arm of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, affiliated with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Mr. Jones and his volunteer team have raised close to $1.5 million over the past 12 years, averaging about $125,000 per year.

The Miami Project, after 27 years of research, is on the cusp of a potential breakthrough, and is conducting an FDA-approved Phase I clinical trial on the feasibility of transplanting certain cells essential for regenerating damaged spinal cords.

“We're finally getting traction,” Mr. Jones said. “Reaching these long-term goals takes time. They can't do it without the money. If we don't pay the scientists, they're going to go somewhere else and research something else.”

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Roy C. Jordan Roy C. Jordan
Roy C. Jordan

Northwestern Mutual for the Green Hills Family YMCA/YMCA of Middle Tennessee

My father and other mentors instilled in me the importance of a strong community,” said Roy C. Jordan, a wealth management adviser with Northwestern Mutual in Nashville, Tenn. “The stronger it is, the stronger I am.

As a 12-year board member of his local Green Hills Family YMCA, he has been a nonstop fundraiser for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. During this time, he helped raise more than $4.2 million to support the 368,000 people served annually by its 15 local Ys, and recruited more than 40 new volunteer leaders for different committees. How has his involvement changed his life?

“I become aware that people are struggling,” Mr. Jordan said. “As an adult, I always had a membership for the fitness center. But until I joined the board, I didn't know the Y was much more than just working out.”

In fact, the Y provides services in youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

“I'm having an impact on the community by seeing the Ys stay open,” Mr. Jordan said. “The money we raise helps local Ys in less-affluent areas.”

His efforts strengthen the Y's ability to boost its members.

“You have people walking through those doors hurting, and the Y provides a safe haven to come in and leave their troubles at the door,” Mr. Jordan said.

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Global Community Impact

Larry Goff Larry Goff
Larry Goff

Triloma Securities for Beauty for Ashes Uganda

To be able to take care of 7,000 people with $350,000 is unbelievable,” said Larry Goff, a managing director and co-founder of Triloma in Winter Park, Fla. “And that includes secondary education for 1,000 kids.”

This achievement was made possible in just five years by Beauty for Ashes Uganda, a nonprofit founded in 2011 by Mr. Goff's daughter, Brandi Lea, and Akwango Anne Grace Elotu of Uganda. The charity helps women in Uganda attain long-term economic sustainability.

The founders have pioneered an innovative model of developing small cooperatives for single mothers and widows, who suffer as the poorest and lowest-status group in their villages due to the traumas of war and AIDS.

A cooperative is a group of about 30 women, led by one woman, which becomes both a support group and a micro-business incubator. The group looks for opportunities for members to earn money to feed their families and build savings. In turn, the groups create their own small banks, which make loans to members.

Beauty for Ashes started with one cooperative in 2011 and is now supporting 37 cooperatives.

Mr. Goff, who is active in all aspects of the charity, makes a clear connection between his professional work and his charitable work.

“One of the reasons to be successful is to invest in other people's lives,” he said.

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Michael Meltzer Michael Meltzer
Michael Meltzer

Tocqueville Asset Management for Maya's Hope Foundation

Two friends leveraged their strengths six years ago, and now hundreds of sick and neglected children in orphanages around the world are living better lives.

In 2010, Michael T. Meltzer, a portfolio manager at Tocqueville Asset Management in New York, saw his friend, Maya Rowencak, feverishly struggling to buy and ship supplies to help orphans in the Philippines (and later, the Ukraine). Having recently lost her mother, she was moved to help children who were also missing a mother's love, choosing the two countries that reflected her parents' heritages.

Mr. Meltzer drew upon his experience in business development for nonprofits and offered to create a 501(c)3 for her. After he did, the growth and impact of the charity took off. For example, from 2012 to 2014, funds raised rose from $57,000 to $260,000.

The charity's major programs are:

• Monthly sponsorship of a specific child providing clothes, food and tuition.

• A“Guardian Angel” fund to pay for private caregivers and therapists.

• “Margarita's Hope,” a fund for special formula for kids who can't digest solid food.

• An emergency medical fund for procedures such as surgery or chemotherapy.

“Literally, lives are being saved by having access to a little bit of money and love,” said Mr. Meltzer, who serves as board chairman and treasurer. “It's something we Americans don't quite understand.”

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Steven Tonkinson Steven Tonkinson
Steven Tonkinson

Tonkinson Financial for ShelterBox USA

Four strangers meet and we hit the ground running,” said Steven Tonkinson, managing director of Tonkinson Financial in Miami, describing his role as an emergency response volunteer for ShelterBox USA.

For the past eight years, he has been part of an elite 150-person global team whose members deploy at the drop of a hat to disaster sites worldwide. Deployments last a minimum of two weeks, and he goes twice a year.

“We do one thing: We provide temporary shelters,” he said. “It has been an incredible experience, offering an opportunity and the autonomy to go to a disaster area and make a difference. We are doing our absolute best to get the aid to those most vulnerable.”

ShelterBox assists survivors immediately after a disaster occurs, before reconstruction takes place. Each 49-gallon ShelterBox, weighing about 120 pounds, typically contains a 10-person tent, thermal blankets and groundsheets, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, a basic tool kit, mosquito nets and a children's activity pack.

The experiences are transformative, Mr. Tonkinson said.

“Every deployment is different, but I always come back with the same feelings: grateful to help and amazed that people who have lost everything still open their hearts to strangers,” he said. “It gives you perspective on how blessed we are.”

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Catalyst

Lisette Cooper Lisette Cooper
Lisette Cooper

Athena Capital Advisors for the Boston Youth Sanctuary

There's a major gap in services for inner-city children suffering from trauma, said Lisette Cooper, founder and CEO of Athena Capital Advisors in Boston.

“A lot of money is going into early childhood education and college readiness, but not into the mental health of elementary school students,” she said.

For this reason, Ms. Cooper and a client, educator Jana Karp, co-founded the Boston Youth Sanctuary in 2011, joining together Ms. Karp's post-retirement vision and Ms. Cooper's entrepreneurial experience and inspiration from the foster daughter she adopted.

The nonprofit serves children ages 6 to 11 with therapeutic after-school programs that include individual counseling, groups for learning coping mechanisms, and unstructured (but supervised) free time for practicing coping skills.

The children, often the younger siblings of gang members and suffering from domestic abuse, are all in special education and have post-traumatic stress disorder, Ms. Cooper said. They are referred to the program by social workers and the schools.

“A goal is to get their acting-out under control so they can return to regular school,” she said.

“[This nonprofit] all started with a question to my client — 'What are your hopes and dreams?'” Ms. Cooper said. “But advisers should also ask clients, 'What do you care about that could make the world a better place?'”

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Janel Huston Janel Huston
Janel Huston

Raymond James for Children's Oncology Services

There's a need. I can fix it,” said Janel Huston, a financial adviser with Raymond James & Associates in Winnetka, Ill. “I aim my cross hairs on it, fix it, then move on.”

This sums up Ms. Huston's heart-filled involvement with Children's Oncology Services over the past 22 years.

Its purpose is to help children with cancer enjoy normal childhood experiences and feel unconditional acceptance. The nonprofit offers 11 recreational programs in five states, serving about 660 children each year. Programs include summer and winter camps for kids, camps for families, day camp, skiing and a dude ranch.

As chair since 2014, Ms. Huston has implemented best practices and greater structure at the board level, instituting program and cost analytics, clarifying responsibilities and expectations, improving outreach for volunteer and donor recruitment, streamlining channels of communication, and showing greater appreciation to volunteers by introducing a volunteer leadership award.

Results appeared swiftly: 2015 saw an 11% growth over 2014 in camper participation numbers, and an 86% growth in revenue.

Leadership has been a learning experience for her.

“You can be all heart, but you have to be a critical thinker. You have to make the hard calls,” Ms. Huston said.

“But I've become more tolerant. I listen more. I learned that everyone is not me.”

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Michael J. Nathanson Michael J. Nathanson
Michael J. Nathanson

The Colony Group for the National Brain Tumor SocietyComapny here

Michael J. Nathanson, CEO of the Colony Group in Boston, joined the board of the National Brain Tumor Society just in time to help it reinvent itself after it had merged with another organization.

Living with a noncancerous brain tumor himself, he was passionate about helping the largest nonprofit brain tumor organization in the world.

Mr. Nathanson instituted a strategic planning process that resulted in a road map to get big things done.

“Our goal is to be the 'trusted enabler' that brings industry, academia and government together to effect system change,” he said. “We set a big goal: to make brain tumors a chronic yet manageable disease by the year 2025.”

The way forward emphasizes three areas:

• Research: funding and creating partnerships among top research centers.

• Advocacy: convening research conferences and lobbying Congress.

• Working with industry: encouraging pharmaceutical attention to cancerous tumors.

“We help guide the research selection process and the research itself,” Mr. Nathanson said. “We have committees with scientists, both on staff and from the research community, who decide where to invest, whether in existing clinical trials or in research we wish to initiate.”

What does it take to succeed?

“You have to have a clear and strong mission,” Mr. Nathanson said. “You must be laser-focused and people have to be disciplined about following it"

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Corporate Philanthropy: Advisory Firms

Budros Ruhlin & Roe Budros Ruhlin & Roe
Budros Ruhlin & Roe

• Has a 100% participation rate of senior leaders and employees in the firm's philanthropic efforts.

• Hosted a fundraiser for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which offers grief resources and care to those mourning the death of a loved one serving in the Armed Forces, and matched employee donations dollar-for-dollar.

• Closes the office for one day each year so employees can participate in BRR Community Day, volunteering at firm-wide service projects in the Columbus, Ohio, area.


The Kelly Group The Kelly Group
The Kelly Group

• Sends employees to a local leadership academy that matches them with a community nonprofit.

• Participated in an annual event for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County, Md., that raised $120,000 in less than 30 minutes, via a live auction.

• Each employee volunteers an average of 54 hours per year.


Lakeside Wealth Management Lakeside Wealth Management
Lakeside Wealth Management

• Actively supported 33 nonprofits in Porter County, Ind., in 2015.

• Offers employees the chance to participate in three daylong service projects each year during paid working hours.

• Each employee volunteers an average of 17.5 hours per year.


North Star Resource Group North Star Resource Group
North Star Resource Group

• Has a 100% participation rate of senior leaders in the firm's philanthropic efforts.

• Has donated over $2.3 million over the past 12 years to the communities in which they live and serve.

• Employees have contributed more than 10,000 hours of service since 2004 to Bikes for Kids, ensuring that 3,500 bikes and helmets have gone to disadvantaged youth in the Twin Cities.


Optivest Wealth Management Optivest Wealth Management
Optivest Wealth Management

• Contributes 10% of gross revenue to charity each year.

• Each employee volunteers an average of 171 hours per year.

• Employees are not required to take paid time off for time needed to volunteer in Orange County and abroad.

Corporate Philanthropy: Financial Institutions

Advisors Excel Advisors Excel
Advisors Excel

• Donated $620,000 to the USO in 2015 to keep American service members connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation.

• Partners with a local television station to grant one wish a day between Thanksgiving and Christmas to members of the Topeka, Kan., community.

• Employees volunteer 3 hours per quarter as part of their job responsibilities.


Ameriprise Financial Inc.
Ameriprise Financial Inc.

• Had 14,000 volunteers participate at 700 events across the country last year, in partnership with Feeding America, to prepare over 1.5 million meals for families in need.

• Has a 100% participation rate of the company's 226 senior leaders in its philanthropic efforts.

• For every $1,000 donated by advisers and their staff on the Ameriprise Community Relations site, company provides business training to five veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project. In 2015, 6,000 veterans were trained as a result of this program.


CNL Financial Group CNL Financial Group
CNL Financial Group

• CEO gave each employee $20 and challenged them to pay it forward in the Orlando, Fla., community. Employees donated $10,780 to 47 different nonprofits, doubling CNL's original investment.

• Employees can take 48 hours per year of paid time off to volunteer for a nonprofit of their choice.

• Each employee volunteers an average of 79 hours per year.


National Life Group / Sentinel Investments National Life Group / Sentinel Investments
National Life Group / Sentinel Investments

• Hosts an annual Do Good Fest, a daylong benefit concert, held on the lawn of corporate headquarters, to raise money for the Cancer Patient Fund and help guests learn more about volunteer opportunities with local nonprofits.

• Established the Life Changer of the Year Award to recognize K-12 educators and school employees who make a significant difference in the lives of their students.

• Employees are encouraged to take 40 hours of paid volunteer time off annually.


Natixis Global Asset Management Natixis Global Asset Management
Natixis Global Asset Management

• Teams of senior leaders and employees volunteer at 12 local nonprofits through a companywide philanthropic outreach program.

• Has been the No. 1 corporate fundraising team for the annual Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port, for the last two years.

• Employees volunteer weekly during the school year to mentor and read to students in first through third grades at a Boston elementary school.

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