How to Make a Difference: PwC & the Gangs of Chicago

How to Make a Difference: PwC & the Gangs of Chicago

tweet me:
How to Make a Difference: PwC & the Gangs of Chicago (a 3-tiered strategy 4 community investment) #CSR


The corporate world is on a bandwagon. It’s growing and gaining speed and everyone seems to be jumping on board. What do we call this rolling and sometimes rickety phenomenon? It’s known as “Corporate Social Responsibility” and there are a few – an important few - companies on board that have earned a moment to be recognized.

Monday, June 28, 2010 - 7:15pm


This month, we can’t stop talking about PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) USA

PwC USA has a solid track record of significant community investment. In recent years, under the insightful leadership of Shannon Schuyler, they have addressed a variety of issues threatening students living in difficult circumstances across the nation. But when a gang fight broke out at the recent programs, some executives wondered if things had gone too far.

But wait - let me back up…. 

The Five Millions Kids Initiative

Earlier this year, PwC launched a partnership with Operation HOPE to teach financial literacy and empowerment. The Five Million Kids Initiative (5MK) would require PwC to commit it’s 525 intern volunteers to work on some of the toughest high school campuses across the country. For many young students, math and money have little connection. The 5MK initiative makes education feel relevant to students through practical lessons in the "language of money.” It is meant to be a key aspect in curbing soaring high school drop-out rates in some of the most economically affected areas across the United States.

An initiative like this presents notable risks - it is not something to jump into unprepared. Shannon explains that the partnership is an extension of a strategic focus that PwC has been building over the years. 

PwC’s 3-Tiered Strategy for Community Investment

1. The Right Perspective.

It takes effort to see from a perspective other than our own, but its necessary when the desire to “make a difference” is genuine. PwC shifted their corporate view to that of the students in low-income school districts. What are their lives like? What difficulties do they face? Why do they struggle with learning? One basic need became clear: they’re hungry.

PwC employed the help of Feeding America and provided breakfast for children who would otherwise spend the day distracted by a growling tummy.

2. The Right Foundation.

When they started with the right perspective, PwC was able to consider another basic issue: by the time kids in low-income schools get to high school, they have already missed years of essential training in the foundational concepts of math and money. Without a strong base, the difficulty of learning financial literacy is multiplied.

PwC decided to provide the right foundation by engaging the MIND Research Institute, which uses innovative techniques to engage student’s visual reasoning abilities to solve multi-step problems. By the time these kids reach high school, they are primed to learn math for life skills.

3. The Right Partner.

The choice to focus their community investment initiatives on math and money came naturally to PwC.  Shannon Schuyler explains, “Money is the core of what we do. Our people can teach this because we know it. ” The alignment of business strengths and resources with community solutions makes sense for PwC.