Press Room Headlines
Nurturing Young Scholars
Wall Street Journal; March 23, 2011
Melanie Grayce West
Carla A. Harris is helping give educationally disadvantaged children the "right kinds of support and the right kinds of exposure."
Ms. Harris, 48 years old, a managing director at Morgan Stanley, has given $100,000 to A Better Chance, a New York-based national nonprofit that increases educational opportunities for thousands of students of color. Ms Harris serves on the board of directors for the organization and has been involved with A Better Chance since the early 1990s.
The organization, she says, seeks out children who wouldn't ordinarily have opportunities to attend some of the most selective secondary schools in the country. Going to a better school, in turn, "positions them to go to some of the best colleges in the country," which positions them for leadership roles, says Ms. Harris of the program, which counts Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick as an alumnus.
Funding educational opportunities for children is a philanthropic effort that comes both from the heart and one that's about just simply investing in the future, Ms. Harris says. She credits a summer internship with Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, another organization that she is involved with, for inspiring her to pursue a career in investment banking.
"None of us got to where we are on our own," she says. "Somebody helped us in some way. In some ways it was visible and we recognize it, and in other ways it was that invisible angel."
Ms. Harris, a gospel singer since childhood, has performed three benefit concerts at Carnegie Hall and recorded three albums. The recent gift to A Better Chance came from the ticket sales from Ms. Harris's November concert at Carnegie Hall.
She made two additional gifts of $100,000 to the St. Charles Borromeo School in Harlem and the Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Fla. Proceeds from the sales of her CDs also help fund classrooms at Charles Borromeo School and scholarships at Bishop Kenny High School.
Ms. Harris believes that it's also important to be hands-on with her charity interests—be it serving on a board, singing for a cause, mentoring or encouraging others to get involved.
"At some point these folks will be making decisions on our behalf, and I certainly want to feel like I've put my personal imprimatur somehow on them so they make good decisions for us when we're no longer in the driver's seat," she says.
A Better Chance
253 West 35th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10001
Phone (646) 346-1310, Fax (646) 346-1311