Signature Initiatives

Our Board of Directors determines our Signature Initiatives, which aim to address society’s toughest challenges through large-scale funding commitments. These grants reflect our desire to make life better for current and future generations in partnership with visionary organizations that embrace what it means to lead by example. The scale and scope of the problems that we take on through this funding are significant. As such, they require innovative and ambitious approaches coupled with the time and patience needed to achieve transformative philanthropy.

Climate-Resilient Employees for a Sustainable Tomorrow (“CREST”)

CREST is a five-year, $25 million career preparation and reskilling initiative that aims to close the gap between the demand for workers to fill green jobs and the number of people ready for these opportunities.5

Climate change is causing shifts in the economy across all industries, requiring workers with new skills and capabilities. While philanthropy frequently funds workforce readiness initiatives, there is not yet a strong focus on preparing and reskilling individuals for the expanding number of green sector jobs. In order to build an inclusive, resilient economy, more workers will need to be equipped with the skills necessary to navigate this growing green economy, including people with low socioeconomic status, people of color, women and other frequently overlooked populations.

Our grants to Jobs for the Future (“JFF”) and World Resources Institute (“WRI”) unite expertise in the future of work, sustainable development and equal opportunity. Working in the U.S. and India, our partners will develop green workforce solutions in collaboration with experts in local communities, academic institutions, businesses and climate entrepreneurs.

Preparing a Green Workforce

As we transition from a gas-powered economy to a clean-energy economy, it will be important to focus on reskilling people of color, women and those with different socioeconomic statuses.

Taj Eldridge, Director of Climate Innovation for JFFLabs at JFF

Heat waves, floods and droughts are the three major impacts you see on micro, small and medium enterprises … each one has a different kind of consequence, and [the businesses] do not have the wherewithal to manage them.

Nambi Appadurai, Director of the Climate Resilience Practice at World Resources Institute, India

Eliot Metzger and Evana Said of WRI discuss how CREST will help micro, small and medium enterprises mitigate supply chain disruption caused by climate change.

Eliot Metzger, Director of Sustainable Business & Innovation, Center for Sustainable Business
Evana Said, Research Analyst, Climate Program


Ownership Works

We have committed $1 million over five years to Ownership Works to support the organization’s efforts to uplift families and increase prosperity for workers through employee ownership programs.

Founded in 2021, Ownership Works aims to advance employee ownership programs that empower workers to participate in the value that they help create while simultaneously helping companies improve employee engagement and business performance. The goal is to not only start a movement in the economy around broad-based ownership, but also help companies deploy shared ownership programs as effectively as possible.

In addition, Ares recognizes that the firm is distinctively positioned to make an even greater impact and has pledged to advance shared ownership programs within at least three of its portfolio companies by the end of 2023. Companies that commit to implementing the Ownership Works model agree to provide employees the opportunity to earn at least six months’ annual earnings through tradable shares, options, restricted stock units, or other forms of actual or synthetic equity — offered at no cost to those earning less than $100,000 a year. In turn, Ownership Works will support those companies with numerous resources, including access to personal financial education and coaching for their employees as well as cost-effective financial services.6

Economic Opportunity Through Shared Ownership

In making [broad-based ownership models] an easier, more effective process, we think we will achieve our goal of contributing up to $20 billion of wealth creation for working families.

Pete Stavros, Founder and Chairman, Ownership Works

AltFinance: Investing in Black Futures

With a shared commitment to improve racial equity in the alternative investment industry, we joined with Apollo Global Management and Oaktree Capital Management in 2021 to establish ALT Finance Corporation, the nonprofit that delivers AltFinance: Investing in Black Futures (“AltFinance”) to help students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (“HBCUs”) pursue careers in the field. We have committed $30 million over 10 years to support AltFinance.

People of color remain largely underrepresented at leading investment firms, particularly at the senior leadership level. AltFinance intends to help eradicate impediments that might preclude young people’s professional pursuits in the alternative investment industry, particularly lack of awareness, exposure and experience. The AltFinance Fellowship is a rigorous, multiyear program that provides HBCU students intensive training, one-on-one coaching, and mentorship focused on skill development, interview preparation, internship and full-time career placement opportunities, and early career success.

Networking is also an essential part of the fellowship program. Because top investment firms have traditionally targeted Ivy League schools to source talent, HBCU students often do not have the same level of access to career opportunities and alumni connections. To diminish this gap, fellows receive access to industry-specific training and resources that enable them to establish valuable relationships and develop expertise. In addition, Ares team members voluntarily serve on the ALT Finance Corporation Board of Directors and help mentor program participants.7

Fostering Diversity Through Education and Exposure

Through AltFinance, our Fellows and students will develop skills that ordinarily would be difficult to learn in the classroom or in the workplace without having had several years of experience.

Marcus Shaw, CEO and President, ALT Finance Corporation

  • 5The Ares Foundation expects to contribute up to $25 million over five years. The actual amount contributed may be less than this amount.
  • 6The Ares Foundation expects to contribute up to $1 million over five years. The actual amount contributed may be less than this amount.
  • 7The Ares Foundation expects to contribute up to $30 million over 10 years. The actual amount contributed may be less than this amount.