SEO’s goal is to prepare young people to lead not just in their families and careers, but equally in their communities. We view philanthropy as a commitment that should start early, continually develop, and include the strategic personal investment of time, talent and treasure to make a positive impact in the world.
An important and unique early exercise is the SEO Career Intern Class Gift (ICG). Each summer, SEO Career interns donate towards the ICG, while the Nonprofit program cohort works together to research and visit youth programs in New York City. The class ultimately votes to award grants to several organizations each year, with half of the total fund raised benefiting SEO Scholars. Since 2004, SEO Career interns have collectively contributed more than half a million dollars to more than 35 organizations through this effort!
SEO also conducted an educational and philanthropic initiative called Saving, Investing & Returning Value (SIRV), which included several features:
- The SIRV Speakers Series exposed hundreds of young SEO alumni and their peers to investment management professionals and members of the nonprofit and philanthropic community. Panel discussions blended topics related to personal finance, wealth creation, strategic monetary philanthropy and effective volunteerism.
- SIRV’s Legends in Business, Leaders in Philanthropy series brought mid-career and more advanced alumni together to hear from exemplary leaders about their inspirational stories of business success and philanthropic involvement, and also learn about the opportunity to establish their own donor-advised funds through SEO’s partnership with the Tides Foundation.
- Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided SEO with $400,000 to establish the SEO Community Assistance Fund (CAF). This innovative “re-granting” project allowed members of the SEO family to learn about 9/11-related needs in communities of color and make grants to 32 New York City organizations addressing those needs. Alumni and interns who participated in CAF committees not only made an impact on the recipient organizations, but were also inspired to take a more deliberate and strategic approach to their own personal philanthropy.
- The SEO Donor-advised Pooled Fund saw a small group of SEO alumni make grants to a range of nonprofit organizations. A $60,000 matching challenge grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation encouraged DAPF committee members to raise $60,000 in their own donations toward the Fund. With assistance from SEO staff and Tides Foundation, the committee brought their personal philanthropic interests to the table, learned about collaborative and strategic giving, researched organizations, and together awarded 11 grants totaling $120,000.
- SEO’s “My Money Matters” project brought an original financial literacy curriculum to SEO Scholars and other organizations working with middle school, high school, and college students, as well as families. This was designed to equip young people with the skills to manage their finances and invest for the future in order to build their individual capacity to give back in a sustained way.
The SIRV initiative was made possible by grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, the F.B. Heron Foundation, the Edwin Gould Foundation and the Merrill Lynch Foundation, and through in-kind support from J.P. Morgan.