Helping Out: Fighting illegal child labor
STEVE GRAUBART Managing director of finance at the University of the District of Columbia; former managing director of Calvert Ventures.
Charitable giving highlights: Contributes financially to and serves on the board of GoodWeave, a certification program that works to end illegal child labor in the carpet industry and give educational opportunities to children in South Asia.
Personal: Lives in the District.
When was the philanthropist in you born?
I remember reading a quote, "He who saves a single life, it's as if he saves the whole world." There's no particular moment where the desire to give was born. It's how I was raised. I believe it's the right thing to do.
I started off in international business helping companies develop international trade and investment. I worked a lot in developing countries and small business that resulted in people getting jobs and climbing up the economic ladder. I was always trying to combine the business aspect with the social bottom line of the business.
My work has always been with businesses that not only have a good return to investors but also have a benefit to society. Along that journey, I started getting involved with nonprofits.
How did you become involved with GoodWeave?
A friend told me about GoodWeave. I saw that they were changing the way consumers purchase while helping children who are forced into labor. It was a nonprofit that applied business techniques to do something good in society. They needed someone with a finance background on the board so they asked me if I would be interested. I thought it was really great to combine my international business and finance experience while, of course, helping children.
What about GoodWeave sealed the deal for you to be involved?
The thing I like about GoodWeave is that it has two key elements. One, it has consumers take action that result in people buying or not buying things [based on whether the goods were produced by] children in forced labor but it also finds children and helps get them from the factory to the school.
Also, it has a very strong management team and a good, diverse board. There's a very high degree of professionalism, especially in the way they run board meetings. There's a really good relationship between the board and management. Sometimes that can be an issue with organizations, but they have a synergy, openness and willingness to listen to each other.