Advisers Giving Back: Innovest’s Culture of Compassion

Innovest Portfolio Solutions deploys its staff as volunteers throughout the year for a wide variety of charities in the Denver area; they also work with economically disadvantaged students to provide valuable work experience and help pay for their tuition.

Art by Giulia Sagramola

Ever since Innovest Portfolio Solutions was founded in 1996, the practice has encouraged its employees to volunteer in the local community. Today, the Denver-based firm has a charitable donations committee that selects the 12 activities Innovest engages in every year.

Last year, the firm’s 50 employees volunteered a total of 12,010 hours of their time, indicating just how much this has become part of the Innovest culture, says Kathy Lalone, a manager with the firm and chair of the charitable donations committee.

A Mission of Stewardship

“Innovest Portfolio Solutions was built on a mission of stewardship, that is, the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care,” says Peter Mustian, chief operating officer. “We see it as our responsibility to care for our clients, coworkers and the community around us.”

Mustian says the firm demonstrates its commitment to the community in three main ways: through monthly service projects performed by Innovest employees, through the ongoing discussions of the charitable donations committee, and through its participation in a unique corporate work study program with Arrupe Jesuit High School.

Volunteering projects have ranged from helping with a Multiple Sclerosis Muck Run to serving meals to homeless teens, Lalone says. In 2019, Innovest employees and their families volunteered for Project C.U.R.E., whereby they packed medical equipment to send to developing countries. Another project was planting flowers at the Central City Opera House. Employees also volunteered for Project Angel Heart, which delivers meals to people who are seriously ill. They participated in school supply, clothing and toy drives for the Denver Rescue Mission. United Way, which works to combat homelessness and poverty, also benefitted from Innovest employees’ largesse.

Other activities included participating in the Brothers Redevelopment Paint-A-Thon for seniors and disabled people and the Denver Santa Claus Shop. Most recently, the Innovest staff visited Arts for the Nation, a nonprofit organization that gives bags of art supplies to groups and individuals working with underprivileged children around the world.

Beyond these activities, the charitable donations committee supports dozens of nonprofit organizations in the Denver area, Mustian says.

Working With Schools and Students  

Since 2014, Innovest has employed four students from Arrupe Jesuit High School through the private school’s corporate work study program. The school gives its students four years of work experience by partnering with local businesses. The money they earn goes towards their tuition.

These students come from economically disadvantaged families, Mustian notes, and in many cases, they are the first people in their families to graduate from high school. Not only do they achieve that, in 2018, 100% of Arrupe’s graduates were accepted into at least one college or university, he notes.

“Putting others first is unique for an investment firm,” Mustian says. “Anyone in the company can suggest an outreach project. The goal of the committee is to solicit ideas and organize projects on behalf of the company. We don’t just want to write a check. We want it to be hands-on—planting flowers, painting a house or serving meals—because it is also team building.”

Innovest tries to create a schedule of very different projects that will appeal to different personalities, Lalone says. They range from all-day events to projects that take just one hour, and most of them are conducted during working hours, she notes. In addition, “Innovest will give employees paid time off if they want to volunteer outside of these projects,” she says.

At least four of the projects are ones that will appeal to employees’ children, who are invited to participate right alongside their parents, Lalone says. “We want parents to bring their kids because we want to instill stewardship in future generations,” she says.

“It really is a blessing to work here,” Lalone adds. “Our founders, Richard Todd and Wendy Dominguez, support this work wholeheartedly, and it is our work in the community that allows us to be known.”