Social Impact MBA

Charlie Stoever, MBA'22

Charlie Stoever, MBA'22
Charlie Stoever

Charlie Stoever, MBA’22, is acutely aware of the disadvantages that marginalized communities face due to financial illiteracy. Growing up as an undocumented Mexican immigrant in Washington state, they felt the stress of their limited resources. 

“I want to empower people, especially LGBTQ folks, people of color, to dive into finance and learn about financial literacy,” says Stoever, who has worked for the past year as a stockbroker for Charles Schwab. “When COVID caused the stock market to dive, people like me who were financially literate could take advantage of lower-priced stocks, while millions were applying for unemployment.”

Stoever’s desire to give back started after college, when they served in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. It was one of the few countries in the Peace Corps network that welcomed same sex couples. After hesitating throughout training, they decided to come out, and they stepped up to lead LGBT Safe Zone Trainings.

“I didn’t feel safe saying I was texting my girlfriend during my initial Peace Corps training. I thought I’d have to be closeted for two years, but I was willing to do it for the cause,” Stoever says. “Through the Safe Zone trainings, it was a powerful tool to change minds. I blogged about the trainings on the official Peace Corps site, and a lot of queer volunteers would read it and thank me for sharing.”

After returning from Nicaragua, they took a variety of odd jobs, unsure of their career path. They moved to Washington, D.C., where many of their Wellesley classmates and fellow returned Peace Corps volunteers lived. As they applied for federal jobs, they led bike tours, dog sat, and even joined a company that did cross-country camping tours in cities and national parks. Discouraged by rejections because of their lack of a master’s degree, they backpacked through Latin America for a summer, and a series of financial literacy podcasts piqued their interest.

When they returned, they made a drastic change. They moved to Indiana and joined Charles Schwab on the advice of a former classmate, studying to become a licensed financial advisor. Indiana wasn’t an easy place to live as an LGBTQ person, and after the COVID pandemic started, they felt increasingly isolated. They decided to quit their job use their new skills to give back to their community.

“I started doing one-on-one money coaching for people of color who have no experience in finance, using it to help other people be financially empowered,” Stoever says. “I helped mostly my friends who are Latinx raise their credit scores, pay off their debt and then start investing.”

Stoever also looked for a way to increase their financial knowledge and go beyond one-on-one financial advising. They found Heller, drawn to its Social Impact MBA and Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowships, as well as the opportunity to learn more about social entrepreneurship and socioeconomic disparities.

After a year in the MBA program, they're excited it to use it as a springboard to expanding their business.

"This MBA has made me value the financial literacy work I’ve been doing along with taking this full-time program on. I’ve been expanding my money coaching from just doing one-off coaching sessions to offering a private, 12-week program for LGBT and BIPOC [black, Indigenous and people of color] folks looking to get serious about debt, credit card points hacking, and investing. I’m even in the process of getting trademarked so that’s exciting!"