A Culture of Good Citizenship at Denver’s Janus Capital Group

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When the busy CEO and over 50 no-less busy employees of a national corporate leader in financial services agree to make a weekly commitment to tutor first grade students in the Denver Public Schools, it is certainly remarkable. This week, we had the pleasure of speaking with this CEO, Richard Weil, of Denver-based Janus Capital Group, about volunteerism in the workplace, company culture, and making a difference by connecting online with Denver early grade readers who can benefit from extra support.

L: Richard Weil, CEO of Janus; R: Mr. Weil's 1st grade TutorMate tutee (Denver Public Schools)

L: Richard Weil, CEO of Janus; R: Mr. Weil’s 1st grade TutorMate tutee (Denver Public Schools)

Mr. Weil recognizes that with so many worthy causes, it can be easy for one’s best intentions to be deflected, but by narrowing one’s focus to a single vital cause – in this case, education — Janus is able to sustain and extend its positive impact on at-risk youth in the Denver community year after year. In addition to supporting IFL’s TutorMate Program, Janus is a longtime supporter of Denver Public Schools, the DPS Foundation, and Boys & Girls Clubs.

The culture of good citizenship at Janus can be felt on all levels of the organization. It certainly helps that when Mr. Weil says he wants people to feel proud of the company, he leads by example as a TutorMate volunteer himself. While financial giving certainly makes an impact, Janus enhances this impact by coupling it with volunteer service opportunities for employees. Mr. Weil shared that he loves getting on the phone as a TutorMate tutor, and that he and his student, Abdalla, truly enjoy reading and learning together each session. Mr. Weil noted that he found connecting with his TutorMate student on a weekly basis to be a unique experience, and he indicated that making a difference in this way is very special. TutorMate has also made it very easy for Mr. Weil to get involved, affording the ability to tutor Abdalla remotely from his company office.

Janus truly is full of “do-gooders.” We noted above that 50 Janus employees volunteer as weekly tutors. Further, Janus has a committed employee engagement manager, Demesha Hill, who makes TutorMate and all Janus’ other critical community work possible. Demesha has played an integral role in recruiting volunteer tutors and in coordinating support for TutorMate through the company’s “14er Challenge”, where employees were challenged to summit some of the highest peaks in the Colorado Rockies. The proceeds from this challenge led to a wonderfully generous contribution of almost $15K from Janus, financing IFL’s plans to distribute summertime books for all 3,000 TutorMate students across the country – as well as their classmates who may not have had tutors. These books will be given out at end-of-the-year classroom celebrations this May and June.

Without the support of people like Richard Weil, Demesha Hill, and their colleagues at Janus Capital Group, IFL would find it much more challenging to make a significant impact on the lives of at-risk children in Denver Public Schools. Thank you to the Janus team, and to all our stakeholders and tutor partners for signing on to our work of closing the reading proficiency gap among our youngest and highest-need students.

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