Dear Clients and Charter School Communities,
I wanted to share some sentiments directly from my heart.
First and foremost, Black Lives Matter to me immensely! I can only imagine the daily struggles with the systemic racism that is getting worse and more deeply entrenched instead of being dismantled. How many more racist acts can we endure beyond the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by the police, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging, and the threat of arrest for Christian Cooper while bird watching to name a few of the countless injustices that continue happening?
I really wish the whole country would do the right thing and practice Kindness, Appreciation, Respect & Motivation, which would be a huge Accomplishment. KARMA is the acronym for our company core values, which is all about always doing the right thing. As a community, let’s continue to create space where we can have difficult conversations and share ideas, thoughts and feelings with KARMA. We are all in this together and all of our voices have meaning and impact to be the change we wish to see. Let’s continue to respect each other and appreciate diversity of thought, experiences and perspectives. The more we can be inclusive and invite each other into conversations that impact our professional and personal worlds, the more trust we can build, and safety and security we can experience while working together. We get to choose how we want to behave with one another in our communities, even if the society-at-large operates differently. We can help each other heal by being vulnerable and showing empathy with each other.
We are a very diverse company that is as equitable as possible with operating and decision-making, while leveraging our respective strengths. We feel blessed that our work impacts tens of thousands of lives and families of teammates, clients and students, most of whom are black, brown and other people of color. In the past 14 years since our inception, we have served black and brown communities because of the inequity in the world and our desire for more fairness and social justice.
As a Certified B Corp and Certified NYS Minority Business Enterprise, we have enormous responsibilities. In our 1st Benefit Report released a few weeks ago since converting from an S Corporation to a Benefit Corporation, our work impacts approximately 42,000 students at the 108 charter schools we serve and 27,000 individuals at the 28 nonprofits we serve. We responsibly manage a total of $1.46 Billion in client budgets, where ZERO clients we serve have shut down due to financial mismanagement. Additionally, we ensure 6,500 employees of the clients we serve are paid promptly and precisely via payroll. This is an enormous responsibility that we accept with honor and trust.
Throughout my life as a South Asian man, I have experienced and continue to experience hate, discrimination and racism which increased tremendously after 9/11. While it is no comparison to the systemic racism experienced and still felt deeply by the black and brown communities, I empathize, care very deeply and am motivated by the possibility of further impacting racial justice in the ways we know best — by responsibly managing the accounting and finance at hundreds, perhaps thousands, more charter schools and nonprofits — in an attempt to level the playing field.
I encourage you to watch the following 18 minute video of Trevor Noah, if you haven’t already, where he shares how all of the recent events are connected and the impossible situation the system and government have placed black and brown people in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4amCfVbA_c
Since I truly believe life is the ultimate curriculum designed to teach us the lessons we need during and after our respective lifetimes, the following are some of the choices I’ve made in building CSBM, because the way we operate matters:
- Designed CSBM to be Diverse and Welcoming of all Backgrounds
- Do what We do Best Professionally to Impact Black and Brown Children and the Future of this Country
- Be a Certified Minority Business Enterprise, a Certified B Corp and a Benefit Corporation that uses the Power of Business as a Force for Good
- Serve on the Boards of Nonprofits & Social Enterprises whose Missions are Aligned with Ours and Positively Impact the World
- Be Members of Entrepreneurial Associations that Value Vulnerability as a Means of Healing and Growth
- Pay it Forward by Teaching Understanding Social Enterprise: How to Use Business as a Force for Good at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service
- Share our Knowledge by Writing a Series of Books to Teach our Approach with Responsible Financial Management
I am sharing all of this very humbly with all of you. We all have choices and are fighting for those choices about how to respond to the endless challenges that come our way throughout the curriculum of life.
I am encouraging each of you, at a pace that is comfortable to you, to reconcile the wounds of the ‘yesterday’, forecast your respective ‘tomorrows’ so that you can manage ‘today’ with diligence and discipline to impact the world in the way that honors your goals and wishes before our time is up. Let’s help heal each other through vulnerability, compassion and empathy towards each other.