Each year, Citi holds the Progress Awards – an internal, CEO-sponsored colleague challenge to recognize innovative, collaborative and extraordinary projects that drive progress for our firm and society. Engaging over 200,000 colleagues, the program gives Citi employees a global stage to share their work, and rewards projects that have the potential to scale and have lasting impact. The 2018 Progress Awards Winner, Citi e for education, is doing just that.
A young Vice President makes an idea a reality
In 2013, the CitiFX® team convened to brainstorm ways to accomplish two goals simultaneously: expand the digital footprint of the new Velocity platform while giving back to communities. Education quickly emerged as a key interest area. With the support of her team, Vice President Caryn Freiberger, now a Director in Investor Sales, pushed the project forward.
The annual Citi e for education campaign raises awareness and funds for nonprofit organizations focused on childhood illiteracy and access to quality education. For every $1 million of foreign exchange and local market bonds traded on Citi's electronic platform, Citi donates $1. Since its origination, the campaign has raised a total of $29.5 million dollars for its nonprofit organizations. The project's success underscores a working philosophy within CitiFX® that profit and purpose can and should go together.
Now concluding its seventh year, Freiberger recalls that in in the early days of the campaign, she couldn't believe her team was letting her run with the idea as a young VP. "I felt like I was no longer at a big bank, but a start-up." With a group of key managers and colleagues supporting her and sponsoring the idea, Freiberger was able to get Citi e for education up and running in three months. "This was a prime example of the fact that when you have a good idea, you can inspire change pretty quickly," Freiberger adds.
Participating in the Progress Awards
In 2018 the Progress Awards introduced a new submission category, Impact Agent, for colleagues to submit projects that combine exceptional social impact with profit-driven outcomes. This new project category created an opportunity for the Citi e for education team to amplify its work and compete on a global level.
Of the 208 entries in the 2018 Progress Awards, the team advanced to the final phase of the program. After presenting their work in front of a judging panel of Citi senior leaders, including CEO Mike Corbat, they were named the 2018 winner and awarded $250,000 to further scale their impact.
e for education is honored at Citi's Senior Leadership Offsite by Citi's CEO, Mike Corbat and Chairman, John Dugan
Citi e for education team member and presenter Brian McCappin, Global Head of FX Sales, recalled, "The instinct is to think that the Progress Awards winning title would go to a project making money rather than one giving money. With winning, we feel proud of the organization as a whole. Citi and the Progress Awards are looking at innovation in a different way."
Introducing the Citi e for education internship program
With more exposure to Citi's global network through the Progress Awards, new support for Citi e for education poured in from across the globe. As a result, the 2019 campaign expanded to include Futures and Equities products executed electronically. With their $250,000 prize, the team took a step back and reflected on how they could amplify their impact with the nonprofits they collaborate with.
This summer, the team and its nonprofits chose 14 students to work at Citi offices across the globe for two weeks, collaborating with mentors and learning about different roles and disciplines across markets. "We were able to connect with the students to learn about their challenges first-hand and see how the nonprofits we support have helped them," Director of FX Sales and campaign team member, Lynley Ashby, said of the new internship program. Nibras Khudaida, a Yazidi Iraqi student whose hardships had driven her to seek the internship opportunity; explained in her application:
Once in a Citi office, the students' passion astounded the team. "We underestimated the power of pairing students with traders and other Citi colleagues," Ashby recalled. "Our objective was to make our impact more personal, and that experience brought our goal to life."
14 students participated in a two-week internship program at Citi offices located in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.
Paving the road for future progress
Looking ahead, the Citi e for education team is excited to increase the number of participants in the internship program, collaborate with more nonprofit organizations and expand the campaign to include other products. They also hope to expand their positive influence on the mindsets of Citi colleagues, demonstrating how social good can be delivered alongside profit-driven outcomes.
Founder Caryn Freiberger shares that sentiment: