In 1911, Caroline Phelps Stokes gave Phelps Stokes its direction, astounding for its time: “improving housing, promoting racial harmony and providing education for Africans and African Americans, Native Americans and needy whites.” Today, our new direction is to build self-sustainable global communities, by investing in a new generation of global leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, students, and citizens, with particular attention to the needs of people of color and indigenous affiliation.
The most promising opportunities and the biggest challenges we face today are inexorably global in nature. Our economy, environment, resources, education, and health systems all connect to, rely on, and affect the economies, environments, resources, and health systems in other countries.
Our goal, at Phelps Stokes, is to inspire and develop a new generation of global leaders who can make globalization better and fair for all, or who can create a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. Globalization is the reality that we live in, and we need global leaders who can thrive in this complexity while leverage its fundamental forces to have a positive impact.
Globalization benefits have been distributed unevenly, international commerce has consequences that are not always positive --- many people have been excluded from global trade networks, and the very act of trade puts a burden on limited natural resources and the climate. Despite unprecedented growth in world economic output and advances in medicine and technology, there are still billions of people who do not have access to clean water, quality healthcare, a good education, or the opportunity to participate in the institutions that have been dramatically affecting their lives and futures.
Our natural environment is another global system taxed by increased connectivity and growth. We have put severe pressure on our supplies of resources and energy, resulting in dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions that are altering established climate patterns.
These problems can be surmounted by global leaders who can bring together people and resources from different national and cultural boundaries to successfully address a global business opportunity or social challenge. But we need more of them if we want a peacefully, socially just, and economically sustainable world.
The world needs leaders to capture global opportunities and solve global problems. We need to invest in nurturing global leaders who can engage with businesses, governments, and nongovernmental organizations, to bridge the distance between these disparate players, all of which have something to contribute on the path to shared prosperity and sustainability.
The payoff for investing in nurturing global leaders is great, but is not necessarily measured in the traditional benefits that businesses have to come to promise, and business leaders have come to expect, for their performance. Becoming a global leader is not about earning the corner office, or getting the next raise. Instead, it is about the kind of person you want to be and the kind of world you want to live in. It is about the relationships you cultivate, the gaps you bridge, the opportunities you capture, and the solutions you create. It is about actively participating in the building of the world you want, not just wishing for it.
The globalization of the world economy has proven that it can bring about shared prosperity. For the world to reap the potential benefits of an interconnected economy, we need a new generation of global leaders who have the capacity, values, and motivation to engage across cultural boundaries and find new responsible way to create shared value.
We believe that we can change the world. Indeed, we already have. Now, Phelps Stokes has re-shaped itself and re-tooled to face the challenges that lie ahead. We invite you to join us and invest in nurturing global leaders who can lead the future.