Raj Fernando at the Canine Therapy Corps Gala

Alongside a number of my colleagues and other local philanthropic-minded executives, I attended the Black & White Young Professionals Board Spring Gala on March 8. The gala was held at the Revel Downtown and served as an excellent opportunity to support another impactful Chicago-based non-profit: the Canine Therapy Corps (CTC).

CTC empowers and motivates individuals to lead healthier, happier lives by developing therapeutic relationships with animals. The organization accomplishes this by providing people in need with animal-assisted therapy services, free of charge. Through these programs, the CTC trains and certifies dogs of all different breeds. Certified dogs are then employed to visit individuals throughout Chicago, accompanied by their volunteer handlers.

The Young Professionals Board Gala included drinks, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and a silent auction – the proceeds of which went to support CTC’s programs and initiatives. The event served as a fantastic way for businesses and individuals alike to show their support and appreciation of CTC and everything that they provide our community.

More about Raj Fernando and Chopper Trading Philanthropy.

Chopper Trading E-Sports Team

Some of our employees here at Chopper Trading have found a way to apply their hobby of playing video games to further a philanthropic initiative.

Chopper Trading has joined an E-Sports After-Hours League, in which participants raise money from sponsors to compete in a video-game tournament; this approach is similar to gathering sponsors for a marathon or overnight charity walk.  The Chopper Trading team is comprised of approximately 10 of our traders and developers, and this season they will compete against 50 teams from tech companies around the country, including industry giants like Amazon, Google, and Twitter.

This is another great way our firm can give back to the community.  Most of the money raised in sponsorships by each team will go to a charity of that team’s choice.  Chopper Trading’s sponsorship money will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network.  This non-profit has enabled the success of thousands of children around the country by matching them each with an adult mentor who can act as both a friend and an invaluable source of advice and guidance. Chopper already has a fantastic, established relationship with BBBS and we hope that our E-Sports program will only strengthen it.

While the E-Sports season has just started, I couldn’t be more pleased with members of the firm finding a way to make their hobby benefit the larger community!

CEO Raj Fernando believes in social responsibility and strong community involvement for Chopper Trading.  Connect with Raj Fernando on LinkedIn to learn more about the organizations he supports.

Raj Fernando Attends Clinton Global Initiative 2013 Annual Meeting

For many years now, I have attended the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting to show my support for the organization’s ground-breaking philanthropic initiatives.  This annual meeting is one of the most dynamic events I attend all year, and I am always inspired by the accomplishments that are showcased.

The purpose of CGI is to convene global leaders from across the political and economic spectrum to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. To date, the initiative has spurred investments and donations for philanthropic causes valued at nearly $90 billion dollars.

The annual meeting is a time to identify priorities for the year ahead, encourage discussion between global leaders, and, to rally CGI members.  Held in New York, the theme of the 2013 conference was “Mobilizing for Impact.” Lectures and meetings focused on empowering organizations to tap into their potential, as well as women as leaders, and youth through education.

This year I learned that CGI-facilitated projects will provide for two million girls around the world to enroll in school, nearly 12 million children to receive a better education, and more than $7 billion to be invested in or loaned to small- and medium-sized businesses.  I’m honored to be a member of CGI and I look forward to continuing to support this organization’s remarkable accomplishments.

Raj Fernando

Raj Fernando at the 2012 CGI Annual Meeting | View more photos from the 2012 CGI Meeting on Raj Fernando’s Flickr photostream

 

 

Raj Fernando Hosts Fundraiser For Louis’ Groceries

This October, I hosted an event to help a first-of-its-kind local non-profit, Louis’ Groceries. Louis’ Groceries is striving to eradicate food deserts, which are communities where residents don’t have access to affordable healthy food.  Its mission is to make sure that the residents of Grand Crossing, Ill., a lower-income and hardworking area, are getting enough of the foods that are both good tasting and good for them. Louis’ Groceries also aims to develop a business model that will enable neighborhood corner stores to successfully retail fresh, healthy foods in food deserts throughout Illinois, or even the country.

Since opening in 2012, Louis’ Groceries has been selling fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products at low prices. It has also been teaching local residents how to prepare wholesome, easy and affordable meals, to help them develop essential cooking skills that work for busy schedules. By making healthy foods more accessible, the hope is that low-income residents will be able to eat more food that is nutrient dense, and less fattening, thus lowering obesity and diabetes rates.

To support the importance of healthy food, Louis’ Groceries invited six top Chefs from around Chicago to prepare locally sourced and appetizing food samples for the recent fundraiser at my home.  Among the chefs were:

  • Richie Farina, Sous Chef at Moto Restaurant, and a “Top Chef” contestant during the show’s ninth season.
  • Matt Eversman, Chef/Partner at OON, who opened his own restaurant at the age of 28 and has since developed a reputation as one of  the city’s best.
  • Tom Van Lente and Kevin Cuddihee, Head Chefs at TWO Restaurant and Bar, who have a unique culinary style inspired by their commitment to local ingredients, which they showcase in their work.
  • Mark Sparacino, Chef from Prosecco, who is well-known and experienced, and brought his Italian recipes to the table at the fundraiser.
  • Last but not least, Courtney Lance, Louis’ Groceries own Chef, prepared healthy and delicious sandwiches that her customers can learn how to make in the store.

With the help of our incredible chef participants, we were able to raise $100,000.00 for Louis’ Groceries. Thank you to everyone who attended, and contributed to the effort!.

Chopper Trading Sponsors Chukkers for Charity

Once again, Chopper Trading was proud to sponsor the 11th annual Chukkers for Charity on September 7, hosted by the Rotary Club of Oswego.  The Rotary Club of Oswego uses this Charity polo match to raise money to support local and international health, humanitarian and educational needs.  Proceeds from the event will help to fund well-known projects such as Polio Eradication Worldwide, Water Wells in Haiti, Owens Family YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Kendall County.  The Rotary Club of Oswego also supports a number of children’s sports teams and other organizations in the area such as Kendall County homeless shelters and scholarship programs for the local community college.

With approximately 400 attendees from regions all over northern Illinois, the polo match was an opportunity for Chopper Trading to contribute and connect with the local community and carry on a sport with an extensive heritage in the greater Chicago area.  Steeped in traditions that date back hundreds of years, polo is an exciting sport that attracts people from all walks of life to enjoy good food and great company.  We are glad to know that our sponsorship helped the Rotary Club of Oswego carry on these traditions, and will enable them to help make a difference in people’s lives throughout the community and around the world.

Raj Fernando Proud Contributor of Steppenwolf Gala

As an ardent supporter of both local Chicago charities and the performing arts, I am proud to contribute to The Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s mission to engage audiences and provide stimulating performances.

Steppenwolf recently held its annual gala bringing together civic and business leaders from the Chicago community for a memorable celebration of the theater. The event is critical to providing the organization with the resources that its actors, directors and playwrights need to continue their work. I, alongside Chopper Trading employees, have enjoyed many of Steppenwolf’s marvelous performances over the years.

This annual Gala provides us with a chance to give back, and the 2013 event was a great success – Steppenwolf was able to raise more than $1 million from event ticket sales and the live auction.  Auction items included opening-night tickets to the upcoming Broadway production of “Of Mice and Men,” starring James Franco, as well as dinner with Joan Allen, Rick Bayless, Laurie Metcalf and Bruce Norris, and a chance to join William Petersen at an upcoming Chicago Cubs baseball game.

Kudos to Steppenwolf for hosting another exciting and successful event!

Chopper Trading and Big Brothers Big Sisters

For the third consecutive year, Chopper Trading has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago to provide one-on-one mentors for children ages six through 18. The mission of BBBS is, through a network of mentor volunteers, to provide high impact mentoring that enables lifelong success. The relationships that are created between the mentors (“Bigs”) and the children (“Littles”) are tremendous and truly help inspire the children to realize that they each possess unlimited potential, and a bright and positive future.

This month, Chopper accompanied a dozen children from Suder Elementary School, to the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Special Recreation Facility. The Chopper ”Bigs” and their “Littles” participated in UIC’s Team Challenge Program, which included activities focused on teamwork, cooperation and building trust amongst the members of the group. Like all of our previous outings with BBBS, this was a memorable day for all of us at Chopper and we hope that our time with the children has instilled in them the confidence to unlock their potential.

These relationships, built on trust and friendship, significantly impact the lives of these children. In fact, Public/Private Ventures – an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization – conducted a study of nearly one thousand boys and girls from eight Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country. The researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their “Bigs”, the ”Littles”, compared to those children not in the program, were:

  • 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
  • 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
  • 52% less likely to skip school
  • 37% less likely to skip a class
  • 33% less likely to hit someone

They also found that the “Littles” were more confident about their performance in school and got along better with their families.

 

Raj Fernando Invited to Chicago History Fair’s 35th Anniversary Dinner

I was recently invited by a longtime colleague and good friend, to attend the Chicago History Fair’s 35th Anniversary Dinner. This event was hosted by the Chicago Metro History Education Center (CMHEC), which works to improve history education in middle and high school classrooms in Chicago and its suburbs. CMHEC offers programs throughout the year for teachers and students that support project-based, inquiry methods of learning history. The organization’s signature program, Chicago Metro History Fair, is an annual competition in which local students present their own historical research projects on topics relevant to Chicago.

It was inspiring to attend such an event and observe the dedication and passion for learning and discovery that the students demonstrated in their work towards becoming a student historian. The skills required for success in the History Fair, I believe, transcend the classroom and will prepare the students for achievement in whichever endeavors they choose to pursue in their lives.

I am a firm believer in providing equal access to a quality education and supporting your local community. For these reasons, I was happy to have been invited to this event and presented with the chance to support a cause that I believe in so strongly.

 

Chopper Trading and the Boy & Girls Club of Chicago

The Boys & Girls Club of Chicago (BGCC) is one of the nonprofit organizations that we have developed a relationship with over the years. We recognize the importance of mentors in the lives of youth, and as such, we have found a way to help guide them to reach their full potential.

Every other Thursday, Chopper Trading employees open the doors of our office to middle school students in the BGCC. We help them with their homework and school projects, play games in our company’s game room, and sometimes we’ll just catch up over pizza. By sharing their time and knowledge, Chopper employees are able to create a safe, educational and structured environment for the BGCC students to continue their development as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

We are proud to be viewed by the BGCC as a team that can provide its young adults with the atmosphere and guidance that they need and want.

 

 

 

Raj Fernando Talks Nonprofit Donations in Crain’s Interview

In August, I did an interview with Crain’s Chicago Business to talk about donations to nonprofits Chopper Trading has made over the past year.In addition to organizations like Paws and Cedars-Sanai Hospital we donate to natural disaster relief efforts and match employees’ donations. Below is a list of organizations that Chopper Trading donates to:

Total giving, 2010-11: $1.7 million
Major gifts: Clinton Bush Haiti Fund ($100,000), Cedars-Sinai hospital, Los Angeles ($100,000), Paws Chicago ($110,000)
Smaller contributions and employee matching gifts: $1.3 million
2012 major gifts to date: Steppenwolf Theatre Company ($50,000), Illinois Holocaust Museum ($15,000)

Raj Fernando with Chopper and Scout

Raj Fernando with Chopper and Scout

Read the full interview with Raj Fernando on Crain’s Chicago Business website.