Georgetown receives $1 million grant from Bank of America Charitable Foundation

Grant supports research on women's economic mobility and workforce social enterprise

Sri Lanka
Photo of a Sri Lankan artisan, courtesy of the Women, Peace and Security Index produced by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) and the Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) at the McDonough School of Business have been awarded a $1 million grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

This marks the second time the foundation has partnered with these two Georgetown entities to expand knowledge on workforce issues and women's economic mobility.

The foundation aims to help build thriving communities by addressing issues fundamental to economic mobility, including workforce development and education, basic needs, and community development.

Ambassador and Executive Director of GIWPS Melanne Verveer says the grant will enable the development of major research on how to create economic opportunities for women in fragile states.

It will also support a Bank of America Research Fellow for the 2018-2019 academic year, Raiyan Kabir (MPP'17), as well as a Research Fellow for 2019-2020. During the first phase of its research, GIWPS will focus on successful interventions to increase women's economic empowerment in conflict-affected nations.

The study will launch at the Bank of America conference on women's entrepreneurship in Dublin, Ireland, this fall.

"There are a growing number of fragile states in the world. Women's economic empowerment is an issue of utmost importance because it is critical for economic viability, political stability, and peace and security," says Ambassador Verveer. "This important research will fill a critical need by contributing to what we know about creating economic opportunity and improving conditions for women."

"Bank of America has been dedicated to women's entrepreneurship and building their capacity to succeed. Its support for the research Georgetown will undertake is an example of its ongoing commitment."

Bank of America's past support to GIWPS contributed to the first-ever Women, Peace and Security index, which looked at three dimensions affecting women's well-being – inclusion, access to justice, and security. The index ranked more than 150 countries based on factors such as women's workplace participation, girls' education, and freedom from violence and discrimination.

Executive Director of GSEI Leslie Crutchfield says Bank of America's grant will support a first-of-its-kind study of the breadth of social enterprise as an expanding field in the United States.

"We are trying to understand how the social enterprise movement is accelerating economic mobility for the nation's most vulnerable and marginalized people," Crutchfield says. "We know that social enterprise is on the rise in the U.S., and GSEI is excited to develop new knowledge designed to help enterprise leaders achieve even greater impact for people and the planet, while also maintaining a sustainable financial bottom line."

GSEI will research social enterprise across the entire spectrum of purpose-driven companies, including those at the top of the business food chain, where large global companies use all of the company's assets to advance causes and create shared value as well as small and growing enterprises.

Some social enterprises, she explains, are designed to benefit hard-to-employ or vulnerable populations that have otherwise been excluded from mainstream economic systems. Enterprises may employ people with disabilities or recruit formerly incarcerated individuals, people without homes, and adults left out of quality education systems. Social enterprise businesses aim to create economic opportunities for marginalized workers, and at the same time turn a profit.

Bank of America says the research will help further its work on advancing economic mobility, a core part of its focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) leadership.

"We are guided by a common purpose to make financial lives better," says President of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation Kerry Sullivan. "Supporting research and programs like those at Georgetown is a key demonstration of how we deploy capital and invest in partnerships that advance women entrepreneurs and build thriving communities."

In addition, the grant will help GSEI build a new rural prosperity initiative designed to drive private investment into low-income rural communities in the United States.

Ken Burns
Paula J. Dobriansky (SFS'77), former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, moderated a conversation at Georgetown University with award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns and Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan about Burns' latest work, The Vietnam War.

It will also continue a dynamic leadership speaker series at campus events that has featured Chairman and CEO of Bank of America Brian Moynihan in conversation with Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett, lead singer of U2 and philanthropist Bono, and American filmmaker Ken Burns.

"We are very proud that Bank of America is our founding partner," Crutchfield says. She explains that by clearly integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance into the way it does business, Bank of America exemplifies the core values that GSEI aspires to instill in students.

"Educating our students to be in service to business and society is part of our Jesuit values," Crutchfield says. "We want students who pass through our doors to leave Georgetown believing and understanding that there's more than one bottom line in their careers and in life; and no matter what they do after graduation, they're more equipped to think and act in responsible ways."