Ted Koenig and Monroe Capital, the Chicago middle-market lender he leads, are donating $10 million toward the Hope Chicago initiative, which expects to raise and deploy $1 billion for 24,000 college scholarships and aid for 6,000 parents. Koenig, co-founder of Hope Chicago, which launched this week, shares his thoughts with Mergers & Acquisitions in this Q&A.

How does this initiative align with Monroe’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion?

Our core mission is to make the world better through diversity and inclusion. This initiative was something that personally I feel passionate about: education. I think that we’ve tried everything else in the world to help with violence and gangs and employment. And we’ve never really gone full throttle into trying to solve social, economic, racial diversity and gender gap issues through education. This is our attempt as a firm — and my personal attempt — to attack that head on.

What other steps is Monroe taking to help increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the middle market?

“ESG (environmental, social and governance issues) is part of our investment equation; D&I (diversity and inclusion) is part of our firm DNA. Thirty nine percent of our senior management at Monroe is women or minorities. That’s huge in the asset management business. It’s really hard to do that. But we’ve made a conscious effort over the last five to 10 years to ramp up our women and diverse members. More diverse input from an employee base is actually a benefit to making good decisions. It’s good for business and it’s good business to do.

For more on DEI initiatives in the middle market, read Introducing the 2021 Private Equity Leaders in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.