Morgan Stanley
  • Giving Back
  • Dec 20, 2018

Why Children Are Our Priority

The Morgan Stanley Foundation's commitment to the health and wellbeing of youngsters goes way back.

As head of the Morgan Stanley Foundation, I hear so many poignant stories:

  • About infants suffering from failure-to-thrive syndrome who are restored to health by doctors at the Grow Clinics we sponsor;
  • About toddlers born with congenital heart problems whose lives are saved by the world-class professionals at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York City;
  • About children who don’t know where their next meal will come across the U.S. who receive wholesome nutrition through Feeding America, one of our partners;
  • About critically ill children whose families can stay free at Morgan Stanley House while their kids are being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London;
  • About kids in poor, urban neighborhoods who get safe places to play thanks to our work with the playground-building organization KaBOOM!

I could go on. The focus of the Morgan Stanley Foundation is and always has been about giving children the critical building block of good health.  By identifying real needs in our communities, and through long-term partnerships, community-based delivery and engaging our best asset—our employees—the Foundation seeks to find effective, impactful and lasting solutions to improve children’s health. By focusing on nutrition, wellness and play (key fundamentals for an early healthy start), we hope to uplift children around the world.

The Passion of our Employees

At Morgan Stanley, our work is guided by the passions, talents and hard work of our employees. They are dedicated to creating transformative change in our communities and pour their time, skills and financial support into everything we do to provide children with the basic building blocks necessary for lifelong achievement. They are the volunteers, project leaders and donors and an important reason we’re so committed to this cause.

I’ve been with the Morgan Stanley Foundation for more than 20 years, but—believe it or not—that’s not even half of the organization’s lifespan. Started in 1961 with a $25,000 contribution by a few of the firm’s partners, the Foundation was initially focused largely on New York-based philanthropy.  Among the earliest recipients of the Foundation’s support was what was then known as Babies & Children’s Hospital, now called Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, part of NewYork-Presbyterian in Manhattan, thanks to our over 40 years of  support.  

Over the years, the Foundation’s work has grown dramatically in geography, scope and financial commitments. In 1994, we started the Morgan Stanley International Foundation, and today we’re operating throughout the Americas, as well as in Asia, Africa and Europe. Everywhere Morgan Stanley operates, our Foundations and programs serve as the support system behind the firm’s bedrock commitment to “Giving Back,” which is one of our four core values.

Morgan Stanley employees take their commitment to giving back to their communities seriously. Last year—2017— more than 89% of employees participated in at least one volunteering program, logging an impressive aggregate of 518,000 volunteer hours.

What the statistics don’t tell are the amazing personal stories of how people’s lives have been touched both inside and outside the firm. Our support for children’s vitality programs takes place on all levels, from the on-the-ground delivery of services to high-level assistance—financial and advisory—to charitable organizations. 

Funding Holistic Care

One last story: A while back, there was a pediatrician at a Boston hospital who was constantly seeing babies and toddlers who weren’t growing properly. She would treat these kids, send them home, and then, sure enough, they’d turn up at the hospital again. 

It became clear that more consequential intervention was needed. So she put together teams of pediatricians and nutritionists, but also added social workers to the mix, to see what role the family was playing. What did they find? Homes where there was only one spoon for the whole family, and it was too big to fit in the mouth of the toddler, which was why the child was underweight. It turned out that in 80% of the cases, poverty was the cause of a child’s failure to thrive.

Acting on what she learned, in 1984, the first Grow Clinic was started, at Boston Medical Center opened. Now, there are six Grow Clinics, four of which we’ve funded. They’re emblematic of the innovative, holistic type of care the Foundation wants to support. Now you see kids who are on the path to good health.  

During the final weeks of the calendar, giving is very much on people’s minds. Here at Morgan Stanley, we give all year round, but particularly at this time of year, when we hold our firmwide Annual Appeal. It’s a time both to donate to some of our amazing partners — including Feeding America, KaBOOM! and Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital— and a time to reflect on all that we’re able to Give Back. It’s always a good time to remember what a difference we can make as individuals and institutions, and the start of the holiday season is certainly a good time to amplify the message.

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