Brown Advisory 2021 Sustainability Report

Global and Community Engagement

As a firm and as individual colleagues, we have a responsibility to give back to society and to the communities in which we live. We aspire to think and act both globally and locally.

Our firm has always emphasized nonprofit service as a core value and purposefully recruited civic-minded colleagues who share the belief in our duty to serve our local communities and the global community. One of our criteria for promotion to Principal and Partner is the energy and leadership that colleagues demonstrate in their communities and more broadly through nonprofit work. Our colleagues collectively sit on more than 300 nonprofit boards and support many other organizations with their time and resources. We offer each of our colleagues time off, in addition to their normally allotted vacation time, to volunteer for nonprofit and charity causes, and support many nonprofits that our colleagues serve as board members or volunteers. We want our colleagues to feel that we place high value on their service commitments to worthy causes.

Brown Advisory similarly dedicates resources to global and community engagement through its charitable giving and through targeted strategic investments.

Philanthropic Activity

In 2020, Brown Advisory contributed more than $1 million to various charities and nonprofits. This figure represented approximately 1.3% of our 2020 operating income.  

In last year’s Sustainability report, we stated our plan to conduct a review of our giving policies. While we maintain our commitment of providing philanthropic support to organizations important to our clients and colleagues and in the communities in which we do business, we identified areas for improvement and implemented some targeted changes. We added three new members to our charitable committee, one new member to the charitable staff, and more closely aligned our charitable efforts across our geographic footprint and with our Colleague Resource Groups. We have already seen benefits from these changes, such as enhanced transparency, improved data collection, and enriched charitable decisions. 

As shown in the charts, we gave to a diverse range of nonprofits. We also collected data on three strategic giving areas—environmental sustainability, justice, and women – to provide an informational baseline for where our support was being directed, and to further inform our charitable decisions in the future. We believe that these gifting priorities are very much in line with our broader strategic priorities highlighted throughout this report, such as sustainable investing, climate change, and diversity equity & inclusion. Approximately 54% of our giving supported these three strategic priorities with the remainder of our giving supporting a wide range of additional nonprofits identified by our clients and our colleagues, and those doing innovative work in our communities. 



Source: Brown Advisory analysis. "Percentage by Category" is based on each recipient's categorization under the National Taxonomy of Tax-Exempt Entities (NTEE) as indicated in IRS filings. "Percentage by Strategic Priority" is based on Brown Advisory analysis. Percentage breakdowns are not externally audited.

All told, Brown Advisory supported more than 200 nonprofit organization in 2020. We have sought to provide greater support to efforts and organizations addressing justice, including broad contributions to community foundations in several of our communities, scholarship programs including the Ron Brown Scholar Program, as well as Roca, B-360 and other innovative nonprofits generating tangible impact.

We offer brief snapshots of several of the many organizations we supported over the past year, and why we stand behind them, but every one of the organizations we support has an important story to tell.  

Type of Support: Nonprofit Contribution
Impact Area: Justice

Roca was founded in 1988 in Chelsea, and over its more than 30-year history, it has established a highly effective, nationally respected model for disrupting the cycle of urban poverty, violence and incarceration.

Its model focuses on the young people aged 16-24 at the center of this crisis; the program is distinctive for many reasons, including the science-based yet relatable form of cognitive behavioral theory (CBT) its outreach workers deliver, as well as the organization’s deep partnership approach to working with law enforcement and other local agencies to coordinate efforts to reach young people.

After many years making a difference across Massachusetts, Roca launched its Roca Baltimore program in 2018, and in 2021 it formally launched the Roca Impact Institute, to help other organizations across the country implement Roca’s model and adapt it to their local needs.

Brown Advisory has supported Roca for several years through financial and other contributions. We are big believers in their model and its potential to offer young people a way out of the unjust cycle of poverty and violence that has persisted for generations in cities across the U.S.

Type of Support: Nonprofit Contribution
Impact Area: Colleague-Driven Initiative (in support of Cancer Research)

Cycle for Survival was founded by Jennifer and David Linn in 2007, to help raise money for researching rare cancers, in partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Jen was diagnosed with sarcoma in 2004, and before she passed away in 2011, she had helped build Cycle for Survival from a localized fundraising drive in one gym in 2007, into a renowned organization that has, to date, raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research.

Our colleague Jordan Wruble was close friends with Jen. He has captained a riding team for Cycle for Survival every year since its first event in 2007 and he has inspired Brown Advisory colleagues all over the firm to join the effort in recent years. Every year, dozens of our colleagues gather fundraising pledges and ride with each other, and our teams have collectively raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Cycle.

The event raises money to fight a devastating disease, but it is nonetheless a celebration every year. To quote Jordan, “Participating in Cycle is a celebration. It is a fun and uplifting event, even while confronting the tough reality that roughly 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Making the best of a bad situation is part of Cycle’s fabric and a reflection of its founders.”

Type of Support: Educational Scholarship Contribution
Impact Area: Justice

The Ron Brown Scholar Program was named for the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, who died tragically in a plane crash in 1996 during a trade mission to Eastern Europe. He was highly respected around the world for this intelligence, leadership and commitment to public service. Now in its 25th year, the program offers academic scholarships, service opportunities and leadership experiences to young African Americans of outstanding promise.

Upon acceptance in the program, Scholars are awarded financial resources to attend the college or university of their choice and receive active mentorship and nurturing to help them succeed and flourish in college and beyond. We are enthusiastic supporters of the program’s mission, and equally enthusiastic about its proven track record of success. Scholars graduate at a 99% rate; 58% attend Ivy League schools and more than half of all Scholars go on to pursue graduate degrees

Type of Support: Nonprofit Contribution
Impact Area: Justice

As B-360 says on its website, it “exists at the unlikely intersection of three lanes; unrecognized potential, dirt bike culture, and STEM education.” Baltimore has long been home to a bustling youth street biking community. Historically, that community has been at odds with city residents and law enforcement over public safety and other issues, but B-360 founder Brittany Young grew up watching the bikers in Druid Hill Park and saw the positive aspects of the community, such as the strong love for repairing and tuning bikes and the role of riding to relieve stress.

She started B-360 to turn a negative into a positive—rather than viewing street riders as a problem, B-360 views them as future assets to the community, and the organization wants to show young people how to use their biking hobby as a path to doing better in school and eventually finding jobs they love. The organization recruits former street riders as instructors and shifts current riders out of traffic and into STEM education programs, safe spaces and opportunities for education and work that revolve around their love of bikes and related skills.

The program has been extremely successful on several fronts; it has worked with more than 7,000 youth under the age of 16 since its founding, and participants have shown a 45% improvement on Maryland standardized testing. Further, there has been an 81% decrease in dirt bike arrests in the City since B-360 was founded, and in 2020, there were only 3 dirt bikes confiscated in the city, compared to more than 200 confiscated in 2017.


Other Forms of Global/Community Engagement

We believe that investing strategically in innovative businesses and joint ventures is another way to engage with our communities and make a positive impact on the world around us. An example is Blueprint Local, a joint venture that we helped launch in 2019. Blueprint Local aims to invest in communities across the U.S., seeking both attractive investor returns and meaningful community impact. Blueprint Local has made investments in communities that Brown Advisory calls home, including Baltimore, Richmond and Austin, targeting projects that can offer tangible community benefits such as affordable housing, renovation of key civic infrastructure, and support for local and small businesses. As of March 31, 2021, Blueprint Local’s affiliated funds and entities have invested in a portfolio of eight projects in six cities across the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Texas, with anticipated total anticipated total project costs in excess of $400 million (source: Blueprint Local, LLC). Blueprint Local has expanded its reach through key relationships across Brown Advisory, with one example being David Robinson, Sr. who partnered with Blueprint in Austin, subsequently became the Chair of Blueprint’s Advisory Board and recently joined the Brown Advisory board of directors.

In the past year, we invested in two businesses that we believe can not only create positive social and environmental impact over time, but also grow and thrive financially. Upsurge Baltimore is an innovative new initiative that aims to help make Baltimore, where we have our largest colleague/office footprint, a diverse and inclusive technology innovation hub; CrossBoundary is a mission-driven investment firm focused on underserved markets across the world.

Type of Support: Business Investment
Impact Areas: Justice, Women

UpSurge Baltimore is an innovative new initiative that aims to help make Baltimore, where we have our largest colleague/office footprint, a diverse and inclusive technology innovation hub.

UpSurge uses the term “Equitech” to refer conceptually to the truly diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem it seeks to nurture, and to the belief that diversity is a force multiplier for the growth of startups. In addition to fostering the local ecosystem, UpSurge specifically seeks to support:

  • Companies whose culture and values are grounded in the advantages of diverse leadership, teams and perspectives
  • Companies led by underestimated founders, specifically women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and the differently abled
  • Companies in any industry using innovation to broaden access or reduce societal barriers

In partnership with several strategic investors including Brown Advisory, UpSurge plans to play multiple roles—investor, community leader, and ecosystem developer—as well as hosting the city's first Techstars accelerator. Each of these roles will support its efforts to build a flourishing Baltimore startup environment and connect diverse entrepreneurs with the capital, talent and customers that they need to thrive.

In addition to our financial investment, Brown Advisory is supporting UpSurge by providing it with workspace. CEO Mike Hankin, and Keith Stone, a Brown Advisory partner and member of our private equity team, both sit on the UpSurge Advisory Board. We believe in UpSurge’s incubation model and are excited to see the ventures launched from its platform over time.

Type of Support: Business Investment
Impact Areas: Environmental Sustainability, Justice

CrossBoundary is a mission-driven investment firm that pursues sustainable growth and strong returns in underserved markets. The firm has 17 offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and hub cities such as London and DC. Its model seeks to drive positive change in these markets, through investments that have the potential to broaden access to services, supply clean energy, and alleviate poverty, while also earning attractive returns.

  • CrossBoundary Advisory is a trusted advisor to investors, entrepreneurs and policymakers in underserved markets. Provides commercial due diligence, market analysis and other transaction advisory services to mobilize private investment across a broad range of sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, health and infrastructure.
  • CrossBoundary Energy invests capital to provide enterprises with cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electricity. Focused on distributed solar and storage technology that can provide a clean path to growth for developing countries.
  • CrossBoundary Energy Access invests blended capital (mix of grants, loans and equity investments) directly into mini-grid projects serving rural African households and businesses. Focused on universal access to electricity as a vital step towards ending poverty.
  • CrossBoundary Educational Infrastructure, a recently launched investment platform, seeks to provide affordable student housing and related infrastructure in East Africa.

Brown Advisory is a strategic investor in CrossBoundary, and we are actively working with the CrossBoundary team on a variety of collaborative projects.