Loomis Sayles Investments Limited has been supporting the work of School-Home Support (SHS) for three years. In this blog post, Christine Kenny, Managing Director, writes about her experience of the partnership.
When Loomis Sayles first opened our office here in London in 2012, I had a lot of fun, challenging and interesting new responsibilities which kept me engaged and busy. I think my favourite though was when, in 2015, I was given a budget to be used towards charitable giving, and I got to pick the charities! Loomis, as a firm, has long supported charities that particularly focus on the education, health and welfare of children, and we also like to focus on charities located in and serving the areas in which we operate. As a bonus, that fully aligns with the type of charity on which I like to focus some of my own personal giving (of time and money), so it makes being excited about being able to offer the support even better. In poking around the piles of great charities out there, I came upon School-Home Support (SHS) and quickly realised they were a perfect fit for us.
SHS, in their work with schoolchildren and their families, really do focus on all three of the things I mentioned – the education, health and welfare of children, and they do it here in London. They also are so creative in their thinking and come up with solutions to so many problems, all with the goal of keeping kids in school. Extra appealing to me was their relatively small size. Because they are not a big, national organisation, they truly get to know their target audience and, in turn, we truly get to know them. As a business minded person, it is important I know and feel comfortable with the people in charge. Also, it is easier to make an impact with a smaller charity, and to clearly see the results and benefits.
What has really clicked for us in our connection with SHS is our ability to do more than simply write a cheque. When we were first asked to host an Aspiration Day, it sounded like it would be fun – little did we know how much fun! We have a small staff here but they all rose to the occasion and came up with fun and creative ways to engage with the kids and their parents, in an attempt to explain the arcane world of Asset Management. The kids certainly seem to enjoy Aspiration Days, and my coworkers and I truly love them. They bring a great energy to the office, remind us how lucky we are to be here, and are also a fantastic team building exercise without remotely feeling like one. I’m not sure who gets more out of these sessions, us or the kids! If it weren’t for scheduling constraints, we would definitely do more of them.
One of the reasons I like to lead the Aspiration Day sessions is because I think it is vital for children to get exposed to positive things outside of their normal experiences, and to see that there is a big world out there. I also think it is important to help dispel the notion that business people are scary, or “bosses” are mean (or, for that matter, always men). I do enjoy the looks of surprise I get when I tell them I’m the “boss”! I also think it is great when the parents participate as well. Whether you look at statistical evidence or anecdotal evidence, there is no denying the correlation between the success of a child and the engagement of the parents. And to possibly open the parents’ minds to the idea there might be another path available to their children (or maybe even to them) is a powerful message to try to convey.
SHS does vital and fantastic work, and if Loomis Sayles can play some small part in helping them in their efforts, it makes all the other stressful parts of my job worth it.
Managing Director, Loomis Sayles