United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

January 27, 2015

Big-time Industry, Big-time Impact: PE/VC Associate Council Uses Brains and Brawn to Make a Difference

Boston’s PE/VC professionals open up about their passion to build a strong community.

In the spring of 2014, a group of young professionals in Boston, with their eye on high impact, formed the Private Equity/Venture Capital Associate Council. Their purpose: to take to heart the Give/Advocate/Volunteer philosophy and serve as examples in the community of what it truly means to Live United.

Those words are taken straight from the group’s charter statement and in the months since they were written, the Associate Council has put them into big-time action. Between volunteer opportunities and events and cutting-edge social impact initiatives, the Associate Council has leveraged its capacity, energy and expertise in unique, consequential ways.

“What really appealed to me was the need not just for money or volunteer hours, but rather the ability to put the skill set I have developed in the private sector to good use to help in the social sector,” says Ben Arnstein of Bain Capital, LLC. “Until I joined the Associate Council, I admit I did not truly believe I could make an impact. I joined because I was convinced this opportunity would let me do just that – and believe I have and will continue to make a difference in the Boston community.”

Arnstein’s colleague at Bain and fellow Council member Jared Middleman agrees:

“One of the first things you realize working in this industry is how incredibly fortunate you are to do so,” he says. “Deeply ingrained in the Bain Capital culture is the almost instinctual response to pass that good fortune along to others in our community. This may sound corny, but I was truly impressed by this almost immediately. From top to bottom, people are incredibly passionate about helping others, and it’s contagious.”

There is a deep history between the Private Equity/Venture Capital industry and Boston (20 years ago, Mitt Romney was among the first founders of the PE/VC Leadership Council!). Representatives have spearheaded some of the most innovative United Way initiatives, including the Home Visiting Collaborative, Project BOOST and Marian L. Heard Scholars.

“Our projects offer a unique blend of strategy and execution that has proven rewarding thus far,” says Rob Denious of Berkshire Partners. “I know the group is excited to continue to expand our support and learn how we might continue to serve United Way and its partners better in the future.”

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Today, the group is leveraging their skillset on projects like financial coaching (survey monitoring, data stewardship, and analysis), the Summer Learning Collaborative (strategic planning and competitor analysis) and school readiness (data compilation, stewardship and trend analysis).

“I wanted to be a part of a large-impact organization with significant resources at its disposal,” Bo Mlnarik of Summit Partners. “In addition to being involved with volunteer and networking events, I wanted to better understand the inner workings of a non-profit organization and the role I could play in helping that organization run more efficiently and effectively. This Council is a unique opportunity to do all of that in a way not often afforded to young people in my industry and at my age.”

In addition to its work on strategic initiatives, the Associate Council also focuses on networking opportunities (a valuable social component that fosters relationships within the industry) and hands-on volunteer work, which places the members directly into the community, very much getting their hands dirty (or, in the case of their recent outing to paint a map on the playground of a school, extremely colorful).

“I wanted to get more involved with the community, meet like-minded individuals, and give back,” says Suruchi Mehta of Riverside Partners. “I hope that my participation can make a tangible difference in how some programs are structured to improve their efficiency, targeting, and impact.”

“It is a great opportunity to serve the community in multiple ways,” said Dan Berardo at TA Associates. “The opportunity to provide your own time as a volunteer and recruit others to share their time with you to make giving back as much about volunteering as it is about getting to know others in Boston is awesome.”

Learn more about the PE/VC group’s work on school readiness.

And about that playground map project…

Interested in joining up? Send an email to Jessica Igoe at jigoe@unitedwaymassbay.org.

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