Ernst & Young, a multinational professional services firm, has supported the Chicago Urban League for 26 years. Ernst & Young has provided significant financial and volunteer support to the Workforce Development Center’s initiatives as well as the League’s signature fundraising events. In the following Q&A, David Nichols, a Partner of Advisory Services at Ernst & Young, and a Chicago Urban League Board Member, discusses why Ernst & Young invests in resources that enhance workforce and education development in underserved communities, and motivation for his personal commitment to philanthropy and volunteerism.
David Nichols, Partner at Ernst & Young, and Chicago Urban League Board Member
What is your role at Ernst & Young?
I’m responsible for Innovation and Alliances for the Americas. At Ernst & Young, we help our clients optimize and grow their business. Additionally, we have high growth ambitions as a firm so we can continue to provide great opportunities for our employees. Innovation and Strategic Alliance are key to our ability to fulfilling these ambitions for our clients and our firm.
Could you discuss Ernst & Young’s commitment to community investment, particularly workforce development?
To support Ernst & Young’s purpose of building a better working world, we focus our community engagement efforts on three areas: entrepreneurs, education and equity in the workforce. Our community engagement, both skills-based volunteering and charitable giving, is embedded in our culture and integral to how we build strong teams, engage our people, develop top talent and live our values every day. Our commitment to workforce development is driven by our support of education initiatives which includes mentoring students and preparing them for college and beyond. College MAP, the firm’s signature volunteer program, is our most unique way to support our future generations of talent. The two-year, team-mentoring program focuses on enabling and empowering students in underserved schools so that they can gain access to college and succeed in higher education.
Why has Ernst & Young remained a longtime partner of the Chicago Urban League, and how do you see that partnership evolving, moving forward?
Ernst & Young has many community engagement initiatives throughout the Chicago area and we’re proud of our longstanding support to the Chicago Urban League. Going forward, I’d like to work with the Chicago Urban League to combine some of our most significant initiatives so we can share with the broader Chicago business community. If we have a program that other companies would like to replicate or leverage, we’d like to collaborate with the League to make this possible (i.e. – Corporate Adopt-a-School).
How long have you served on the Chicago Urban League Board of Directors, and what motivated you to take on this leadership role?
I’ve been on the Chicago Urban League Board for 4 years. I also serve on several other non-profit boards in Chicago. African Americans have a long and significant history in Chicago. But when I look at the challenges that face the African American community in Chicago and across the country, no other organization has the history and track record of making a difference that compares to the Chicago Urban League. Their work is tireless and has made a difference that is undeniable. The League speaks for the voiceless. They fight for the tired. They guide those who are looking to improve. They educate those seeking knowledge. My time on the Board has helped me understand the depth of their work and how hard it is in the trenches each and every day. We need all communities in Chicago to be vibrant and strong. That is the mission of the Chicago Urban League and the entire Chicago community has become better because of their work during the 100 year history of the League.
Why are philanthropy and volunteerism important to you personally?
We’ve all had help at some point in our lives. People have unselfishly given their time and energy to help me and I often reflect on the blessings that I’ve received. I teach my children that our lives shouldn’t consist of material things or personal consumption. We are measured and remembered by how we live our lives and the impact that we have on others, not by what we consume along this journey. Those who are less fortunate than us may only be that way because they might not have had the help that we’ve had. So philanthropy and volunteerism are an important and integral part of my family. I’m proud to work actively to be part of the solution to some of our most pressing community issues.