Having benefitted from nonprofits growing up, Rhoden Monrose founded CariClub, a social impact platform that aims to connect professionals with their higher purpose.
When he was 12, Rhoden Monrose left St. Lucia in the Caribbean to join his mother and younger sister in Harlem. Everything was strange, and he struggled to adapt to his new community and environment.
“Growing up in a single parent home had plenty of challenges,” he says. What helped him find his own path was a nonprofit educational organization that gave both Monrose and his sister the opportunity to prepare for, apply to, and matriculate to top-flight private boarding schools on the East Coast. “In my family, we were firm believers in education,” he says, “But sometimes, you need an organization to help you turn belief into reality.”
That boost was all that Monrose needed. He flourished in boarding school and earned a full scholarship to a prestigious college. After graduation, Monrose secured a coveted Wall Street trading job, which he left to found a startup called CariClub, a social-impact networking platform.
“I'm someone who benefited greatly from nonprofits. So now, my goal is to empower my generation to get involved in philanthropy,” says Monrose, who aims to amplify the work of nonprofits nationwide.
My goal is to empower my generation to get involved in philanthropy
How does it work? CariClub—a play on the Latin word “caritas,” meaning charity–matches young professionals with associate board positions at nonprofits, through which they can gain leadership experience. “Many young professionals feel something missing in their careers,” Monrose says. “We care about making an impact and seek a way to give back and help our communities. And companies who employ people like us recognize this yearning to balance our careers with that higher calling.”
The platform is gaining traction with large corporations, including Morgan Stanley, which are beginning to onboard employees interested in using CariClub to channel their interests in giving back. With more than a thousand nonprofits registered on the platform, Monrose and his team have also developed smart algorithms to help match members with the nonprofit causes for which they may have unique affinity and qualifications. This positions them to serve on associate boards that nurture a pipeline of experience and leadership critical to philanthropic institutions.
“We invested in machine learning technology to do the number-crunching involved in the process,” says Monrose. “In the same way that an online retailer can show you what you might want to buy next, we uncover nonprofit opportunities.”
When it comes to the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab, however, the key lessons have been about human relationships. “People hear ‘startups’ and immediately they think about the technology or the platform or the unique ideas,” Monrose said. “Of course, you need all of that, but what I really take away from being here at Morgan Stanley is the importance of people, the team you build, develop and grow; the investors who will believe in you as a long-term commitment; the clients who want and need you to see and understand their very human problems and how you can help solve them.”
Monrose’s advice for anyone bitten with the entrepreneurial bug?
“Whatever you choose to do, make sure you are genuinely passionate about doing it,” he says. “The passion is the only thing that will power you through the process when times are rough. I couldn't have come this far if it wasn't for my total conviction.”