The Siebert Williams Shank Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC (SWS), the nation’s top-ranked minority- and woman-owned investment banking firm, is helping to establish the next generation of African-American business leaders by donating $200,000 to support educational programs at Howard University and Spelman College, two of America’s preeminent Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s), to kick off Black History Month.
SWS, dually headquartered in New York City and Oakland, Calif., with more than 15 offices throughout the country, is among the most diverse in its industry, with 64% of its workforce comprised of women and minorities. The firm is both majority owned by people of color (92%) and women (61%).
President and CEO Suzanne Shank has been a board trustee of Spelman College for seven years and firm Chairman Christopher Williams and equity partner Gary Hall are both alumni of Howard, along with several employees at the firm. Mr. Hall is also the parent of a Howard sophomore.
The firm hopes to motivate other financial institutions who have not yet supported these institutions to do so.
Ranked among the top corporate and municipal finance firms, its founders included Muriel Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
The donation also comes approximately one year following the merger of Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co. and The Williams Capital Group, creating the top minority- and women-owned investment bank in the U.S.
The gift to Spelman will establish an Innovation Lab fellowship program, which will support students to learn and put into practice key elements of business strategy and entrepreneurship over a year-long program. The Innovation Lab will allow students to develop and sustain business models, participate in mentorship and internship programs, and develop a variety of business skills.
The gift to the Howard University School of Business will support its 50th anniversary strategic initiatives, a comprehensive plan that includes student retention programming, career placement opportunities, technology enhancement, curriculum development, and undergraduate scholarships.
“Even prior to my joining the board of Spelman College, I knew Spelman College was a strong training ground for women who lead and excel in their careers and communities,” said Ms. Shank. “I knew this first-hand, as my mother was a Spelman graduate who gave me an appreciation for the impact of a quality education on changing the trajectory of one’s life. Supporting two preeminent educational institutions that have a rich history of matriculating black leaders in many fields, including business, is the perfect way to kick off Black History Month.”
“Our contributions to two of the many deserving Historically Black Colleges and Universities, represent a single gesture in support of the critical missions that these institutions have served since post-war Reconstruction, and signals our intent to use our talent and resources to support development of future generations of diverse professionals,” said Mr. Williams. “My time at Howard also provided me with compelling real-life examples of minority professionals that were undeterred, by any societal hurdles encountered, along their journeys to success.”
“As a proud alumnus of Howard, I know first-hand not just the excellent level of education students receive there, but the outstanding real-world results it produces after graduation,” said Mr. Hall, who runs the firm’s Oakland office and serves as National Head of Infrastructure and Public Finance. “The students that our firm employs from HBCU’s are smart and success driven. I know this donation will provide generations of students with an important ladder into the beginning of their careers.”
“We are grateful for this generous gift from Trustee Shank’s firm to Spelman’s Innovation Lab, a space on campus that enables students to experiment with technology to realize their entrepreneurial and creative efforts,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman.
“On behalf of the School of Business, I want to thank the Siebert Williams Shank Foundation for their support and partnership,” said Anthony Wilbon, Ph.D., dean of the Howard University School of Business. “The fact that there are two Howard University alumni at the helm of America’s top-ranked woman and minority-owned investment bank speaks volumes about the value of a Howard University education. We are very grateful that both Mr. Gary Hall and Mr. Chris Williams have continued to support their alma mater, and there is no doubt in my mind that this contribution is a true testament to the Howard University tenets of truth and service. We could not be more grateful.”
SWS is an independent non-bank financial services firm that offers investment banking, sales and trading, research, and advisory services. It was created through a merger in late 2019 of the nation’s top-ranked woman and minority-owned municipal finance firm and the top-ranked minority-owned corporate bond firm.
The Siebert Williams Shank Foundation was established in 2020 as part of the firm’s commitment to supporting charitable organizations across the United States, particularly in those communities the firm serves and in which it operates.