Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. (NYSE: WDR) today announced that it has expanded its partnership with Rock The Street Wall Street (RTSWS) to include a high school in the Kansas City Public Schools district. As Waddell & Reed Financial continues to broaden its outreach, education and diversity & inclusion initiatives, Lincoln College Preparatory Academy becomes the second school, along with Shawnee Mission North High School, that the Company is partnering with through RTSWS to offer a financial and investment literacy program for female high school students.
“This is such an important, effective program for future generations of female financial leaders. Data shows it is very successful in raising financial literacy levels and encouraging young students to pursue their dreams of a career in finance.”
“We’re pleased to expand our partnership to a second school and place further tangible support behind our belief in increasing diversity in the financial industry over the long term,” said Philip J. Sanders, CEO of Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. “This is such an important, effective program for future generations of female financial leaders. Data shows it is very successful in raising financial literacy levels and encouraging young students to pursue their dreams of a career in finance.”
Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, founded in 1865 and located near where Waddell & Reed Financial’s future headquarters is currently under construction in downtown Kansas City, is a historical cornerstone for the city and has a strong presence in the education community.
“We’re grateful to Rock the Street, Wall Street and its many corporate sponsors, including Waddell & Reed Financial, for bringing this innovative financial literacy program to Lincoln Prep,” said Kristian Foster, Principal of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. “This is another example of how we’re leveraging partnerships to meet needs of our students. This program is going to benefit our entire community!”
Through RTSWS, a national, non-profit organization, partnership engagement includes financial literacy sessions, mentoring programs and a field trip to Waddell & Reed Financial headquarters. The fall 2020 program is currently being finalized with pandemic protocols and safety guidelines at the forefront.
In 2019, Waddell & Reed Financial became the first organization in the Kansas City area to partner with RTSWS when it introduced its partnership with Shawnee Mission North High School, which carries forward for the 2020-21 school year. Surveys conducted after Waddell & Reed Financial’s first program year with Shawnee Mission North showed a 65% increase in financial literacy among students who participated, and a 100% increase in those who said they are likely to pursue a major/minor in finance or economics.
“It’s imperative to improve girls’ financial literacy before they reach college,” said Maura Cunningham, founder and CEO of Rock The Street, Wall Street. “Creating a more robust pipeline of women entering finance must start in high school. Many girls adjust their college searches and their career direction after completing our program. And all of them leave the experience with greater fiscal confidence that will benefit them throughout their lives.”
More than 2,325 girls have gone through the RTSWS program since its founding in 2013. RTSWS students average a 92 percent increase in their understanding of financial literacy between the start and end of the program. Graduates of the program are 4.8 times more likely to pursue degrees in finance, economics, or related fields than the national average for undergraduate females.
The expansion of the RTSWS partnership is aligned with actions Waddell & Reed Financial has undertaken in recent years to ensure a culture of belonging and to enhance diversity & inclusion initiatives across the organization, including:
- The Company announced recently that it is hiring for two newly created full-time roles dedicated entirely to diversity and inclusion: a Head of Diversity and Inclusion, responsible for developing and delivering on the next evolution of a comprehensive diversity & inclusion strategy aligned with the firm’s purpose, vision, mission, values and business goals; and a Diversity Outreach and Sourcing role, which will work across the organization to enhance community and industry diversity outreach and sourcing efforts, including the diversity of candidate pools for employment and affiliated advisors, as well as minority and women-owned vendors and business partners.
- Earlier this year, the Company announced partnerships with the Forte Foundation and KC Women in Technology. These non-profit organizations focus on connecting and increasing women in the workplace. Through these partnerships, the Company introduces female students to careers in the financial and technology industries, and may participate in campus programs, events and mentoring.
- The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ pledge, signed in early 2019 by Sanders, acknowledges that the organization will act to cultivate trust, diversity, flexibility and understanding. By signing the pledge, Waddell & Reed Financial has acknowledged it will take specific actions to advance an open and empowering environment.
- The Company launched an initiative in 2019 called Culture Connections, centered on core components of Diversity & Inclusion, Employee Appreciation, Philanthropy, Strategy & Values and Well-Being. Culture Connections is a purposeful and planned strategy to directly and authentically illustrate the company’s commitment to advance its position as a values-based and purpose-driven organization. As one of the core components, Diversity & Inclusion facilitates a range of internal education programs and events to advance knowledge and understanding, such as Black History Month, International Women’s Day and Pride Awareness, among many others.
- Beginning in 2021, the Company will observe Juneteenth each year as a paid company holiday. This will provide the opportunity to pause to celebrate this day dedicated to freedom and liberty and reflect on its meaning for our country. Employees are encouraged to consider taking this day to volunteer in their community and/or allow an opportunity to better educate themselves about the challenges of racial inequality and consider how they can each support the quest for equality.
- Last month, the Company held Racial Diversity Days of Understanding for employees to continue the tough and important conversations around racial injustice. In addition, the Company made donations totaling $50,000 to local non-profit organizations that focus on addressing racial justice and diversity and to better support under-served communities.