William Blair Teams Up with Greenwood Project to Create Financial E-Learning Classes Amid COVID-19

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Bevon and Elois Joseph, founders of the Greenwood Project

Bevon and Elois Joseph, founders of the Greenwood Project, during William Blair's virtual training class.

William Blair employees are working with its community partner Greenwood Project to support students whose studies have been disrupted due to COVID-19 by creating e-learning classes on finance and career development.

The first step was a virtual training session for William Blair colleagues hosted by the firm on April 23 with the Greenwood staff conducting the class.

The Greenwood Project is a five-year-old educational initiative founded by Bevon and Elois Joseph, a husband-and-wife team who work in the Chicago financial services industry. Its mission is to introduce high achieving and talented minorities from underserved communities to careers in finance, beginning in high school and continuing through college and graduation.

Over the years, students have gained real-world experiences and exposure to the financial industry through a speaking series, a summer financial institute, a tour of Wall Street and more. Typically, students visited up to 40 companies during the summer and met financial professionals. But with the adoption of stay-at-home rules to stop the spread of COVID-19, Greenwood has had to shift its programs, classes, and volunteer opportunities online.

"We believe our students need us more now than ever," said Bevon Joseph during William Blair's virtual training session, encouraging staff to help create content and participate in virtual career talks. "We are trying to find new creative ways to keep students engaged and learning."

Greenwood is creating two online tracks. One is career readiness which includes classes on interview preparation, resume building and LinkedIn for students. The other is a finance track and features classes in financial literacy, compliance and training, intro to the stock market, and careers in finance.

William Blair's partnership with the Greenwood Project began in late 2019. The nonprofit was among the recipients globally of a two-year grant to improve the long-term vitality of their communities.

"We've all seen the impact COVID-19 is having on everyone. Greenwood is being agile, adapting to a difficult environment to support students," said Kwesi Smith, a William Blair research analyst with investment management who nominated Greenwood to receive the grant.  

Smith is thrilled William Blair colleagues are stepping up and partnering with Greenwood to develop content for the financial literacy track. "It's our sweet spot of what we can do and add value," he adds.

Since Greenwood expanded its traditional programs and promoted them through social media, students and parents from around the globe have reached out to the group as demand for e-learning has accelerated amid school closures due to COVID-19.

"It's allowed us to engage even more students," said Bevon Joseph.

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