Press Release: BlackRock Creates Foundation to Advance a More Inclusive and Sustainable Economy
BlackRock, Inc. has made a charitable contribution of 15.6 million shares of PennyMac Financial Services, Inc., with a market value of $589 million, to fund the firm’s social impact efforts to advance a more inclusive and sustainable economy. This charitable contribution will provide long-term funding for the firm’s future philanthropic investments and partnerships focused on promoting sustainability and economic mobility, and building a financial safety net for underserved and underemployed people.
“Society today needs companies to create economic growth that benefits all stakeholders,” said Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock. “The contribution we’re making – in line with our purpose as a firm – will support our commitment to creating greater financial well-being and advancing sustainability,” he continued. “These funds will be strategically deployed to partners and programs aligned with this mission, helping catalyze new and innovative ideas that support social and economic progress for more people around the world. The BlackRock Foundation will support our conviction that the transition to a more sustainable economy must be inclusive, fair and just.”
BlackRock’s Social Impact team, the group that leads the firm’s philanthropic efforts, works to address pressing social problems. The team identifies, funds and partners with high-potential organizations to test and build evidence for innovative solutions with potential long-term impact, strong leadership and measurable outcomes, either anticipated or demonstrated.
The first phase of work has focused on tackling financial insecurity. Last year, BlackRock’s philanthropic funds committed $50 million to launch a new Emergency Savings Initiative to build, test, and pilot custom short-term savings tools and strategies for people living on low-incomes. The first group of participating organizations – including UPS, Uber, Mastercard, Etsy, Brightside, Arizona State University, and Acorns – are working with experts from three leading consumer health nonprofits – Common Cents Lab, Commonwealth and the Financial Health Network – to establish an important financial safety net for their employees, customers, students, and gig workers.
“Planning for the future is difficult – if not impossible – when you’re worried about today,” said Deborah Winshel, Global Head of Social Impact at BlackRock. “Financial insecurity prevents individuals from fulfilling their potential, and it undermines productivity and economic mobility. We have an opportunity to help people gain a more secure financial footing through creating access to jobs with high earning potential and tools to build savings, protecting against downside shocks.”
Other current partnerships and outcomes funded through BlackRock’s philanthropic efforts include:
CodeDoor, a tech bootcamp and job placement program based in Frankfurt, Germany, where BlackRock’s support will facilitate a new train-the-trainer model, projected to scale graduates to 20,000 by the end of 2021, up from 1,500 in 2019.
Laboratoria, a social enterprise training underemployed women for tech jobs. BlackRock’s support over the past two years has helped graduate 895 developers across Peru, Mexico, Chile, and Brazil, with 80% of these women working in jobs in tech that on average triple their income.
Upwardly Global, a US-based organization that coaches foreign-born professionals to move from unemployment and severe underemployment to thriving-wage roles in high-demand fields. Some 85 percent of Upwardly Global participants experience poverty before entering the coaching program. Since 2019, BlackRock’s support has helped 1,000 of these job-seekers rebuild professional careers with an average salary of nearly $58,000.
RefuAid, a UK-based nonprofit founded in 2015 and based in London, creating access to interest free loans for migrants with professional training to access re-credentialing and re-qualification. With a waitlist of 360 loan applicants, BlackRock’s support will help the organization build capacity to meet demand.
One Acre Fund, an organization that BlackRock supported over the past two years to test and scale tree-planting as a backup source of income and savings device for smallholder farmers in rural Africa. In 2020, BlackRock will support One Acre Fund’s pilot program in India, and their ambitious goal of planting ~20,000,000 trees.
In addition to funding solutions to promote a more inclusive and sustainable economy, BlackRock’s Social Impact team supports and empowers BlackRock’s employees to give back to their communities in ways that are meaningful to them. The team is responsible for BlackRock’s community-based investments as well as humanitarian and disaster relief. In the next phase of work, the group plans to expand their focus to include environmental sustainability.
“Just as we anticipate that climate change will reshape the investment landscape, we recognize the disproportionate consequences already facing vulnerable communities,” said Winshel. “The additional instability climate change brings to peoples’ day-to-day lives is a social problem. We’ve begun work to support organizations addressing this challenge in the coming year.”
Photo courtesy of Sudipto Sarkar.