The Morgan Stanley Foundation's commitment to the health and wellbeing of youngsters goes way back.
As head of the Morgan Stanley Foundation (the "Foundation"), I hear so many poignant stories involving children:
- 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 across the U.S. who don’t know where their next meal will come from receiving wholesome nutrition through Feeding America, one of our non-profit partner organizations.
- 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. That’s because the focus of the Morgan Stanley Foundation is and always has been about children. By identifying real needs in our communities around the world, and through long-term collaborations, community-based delivery and engaging our best asset—our employees—the Foundation seeks to find effective, impactful and lasting solutions to improve their lives in a multitude of ways that focus on nutrition, physical and mental wellness, and play--key fundamentals for an early healthy start.
Our latest initiative is one I’m particularly proud of: The Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health, which combines the resources and reach of Morgan Stanley with the knowledge and experience of our distinguished nonprofit partner organizations to strategically address the far-reaching challenges of stress, anxiety, and depression in children and adolescents, particularly those in vulnerable communities. Mental health conditions among young people are rapidly becoming more pervasive and more urgent, and we firmly believe there are opportunities to address these challenges with sizeable opportunity for impact. We are proud to make the first major step in doing so as a firm with the Alliance.
At Morgan Stanley, such 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 members of the firm, 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 reach, 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, during our annual Global Volunteer Month, more than 86% of our employees worldwide delivered over 272,000 hours of service in communities across 36 countries. Since launching our first Global Volunteer Month campaign in 2006, we’ve provided nearly 2.4 million 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.
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? In one home they visited, 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, that pediatrician launched the first Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center in 1984. 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. Indeed, the Grow Clinics are just one example of the difference we can make as individuals and institutions in the lives of underserved children here and around the world.