In 1993, when John Montgomery was writing the business plan for Bridgeway Capital Management (BCM), he thought, “Why wait to give your money away at the end of your life when you can enjoy making a difference along the way? What would it be like if a whole company was built around that?” As a result, BCM’s articles of incorporation state that it will donate 50% of its profits to charitable causes. Over the years, BCM has granted tens of millions of dollars and time to more than 500 different nonprofits. Bridgeway includes all of its Partners (as permanent staff members are known) in the giving program. This idea, turned reality, has had at least ten-fold the benefits imagined. Not only has this philosophy forged a unique culture, it has helped BCM attract and retain highly motivated and talented individuals.
Bridgeway’s mission embraces an extraordinary purpose stated as, “A world without genocide. Partners effecting extraordinary community and world change.”
Clearly, the wish to eradicate the practice of genocide in the world is shared by many, but it remains merely "a goal" until people take action. For that reason, we have included it as part of our mission statement and have devoted time, effort, and resources to this urgent pursuit. In fact, we have a staff member who spends a significant portion of her time working in locales around the world where the pain and suffering of genocide is widespread. In the same vein, a core focus of our philanthropic efforts is peacemaking and ensuring human rights.
Another “big idea” is to inspire Partners and other companies to effect transformative change in their community and the world. Every Partner is encouraged to develop a passion and engage where they see the greatest needs and possibilities. We focus on transformational change, which involves personal engagement and relationships, in addition to dollars. We also encourage grass roots involvement where impact can be exponentially higher. Therefore, many of the organizations we support are not household names…yet!
A few of the organizations that Bridgeway has supported in the areas of peacemaking and ensuring human rights include The Elders, Eastern Congo Initiative, Resolve, Aegis Trust, and the Human Rights Documentation Initiative at the University of Texas Libraries. Other issue areas where multiple Partners work collaboratively are: education, community development, disaster relief, and homelessness. A few of the more well-known organizations that Bridgeway has supported in these areas include Teach for America, KIPP, GenesysWorks, SEARCH Homeless Services, and Living Water International.
Just as in our investment business, our giving hinges on relationships – building them, cultivating them, LISTENING, and working together with community members, to bring about change. Positive change that the community owns and is invested in - that is the transformative change that bears lasting success.
We look for passion, sacrificial leadership, empowerment, results, and sustainability. In order to give money away responsibly, we believe it is important to “get boots on the ground” in the communities we wish to help. In this way, we learn directly from the people what their challenges are and what they feel is most needed. We also believe in getting money to the grass roots, to community-based organizations that are leading and serving their own population.
Bridgeway provides financial resources and time to every Partner to support charitable causes. Partners also give of their own time and financial resources. Over the years, Bridgeway has set aside charitable funding for Partners to allocate, donated matching funds, provided a quarterly volunteer day, organized local service projects, and given Partners time and financial support for service trips worldwide. These service trips have included drilling a water well in El Salvador, mentoring athletes in China, and teaching a class in the world’s second largest slum in Kenya. Our Partners have also traveled on service trips to Rwanda, Honduras, Jamaica, Guatemala, Haiti, El Salvador, and Peru.
The 50% commitment is measured over time and actual levels fluctuate year to year. Because the donation of 50% of profits is in BCM’s articles of incorporation, it is reviewed and certified by independent auditors.
Over the years, BCM has used several vehicles for granting. These include Bridgeway Foundation, direct corporate giving, third-party outsourcing, and donor-advised funds. The discipline that we apply to investing also applies to our giving program. We have a thorough process and are diligent about finding the right partners and ways to have impact. Currently, Bridgeway only accepts solicited proposals for grants.
Bridgeway Foundation was created in 2000 to facilitate the fulfillment of the mission of BCM. Bridgeway Foundation is one of the vehicles used to accomplish the 50% commitment of BCM. It is a private foundation that is a separate legal entity from BCM. Bridgeway Foundation has a Board of Directors that is chaired by BCM Founder, John Montgomery. The President and CEO of Bridgeway Foundation is Shannon Sedgwick Davis. Further information is available at www.bridgewayfoundation.org.
In addition to the individual transformative change efforts of each BCM Partner, there is one full-time Partner dedicated to the giving program. Shannon Sedgwick Davis, President and CEO of Bridgeway Foundation, focuses primarily on the core mission of peacemaking and ensuring human rights. She is dedicated to the giving program, focusing her time on developing relationships, identifying collaborative opportunities, leading projects, and monitoring impact. Shannon’s bio is available at www.bridgewayfoundation.org.