Portfolio Insights

Phoenix Tower International (PTI) Recognized as Corporate DREAMer of the Year

Blackstone’s Global Head of Environmental, Social and Governance, Alison Fenton-Willock, spoke with PTI CEO Dagan Kasavana about his company’s foundation and its COVID-19 relief efforts, as well as PTI’s recognition earlier this year by the DREAM Project as their Corporate DREAMer of the Year.

At Blackstone, we know it’s important to support our communities and we’re proud to support companies across our portfolio like Phoenix Tower International that exemplify these values, especially in the time of COVID-19. PTI, a wireless infrastructure provider that operates towers across the United States, Latin America, and Europe, has long partnered with the DREAM Project, an education nonprofit in the Dominican Republic. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced, PTI was recognized as DREAM’s Corporate DREAMer of the year – and the company has lived up to its title with continued support of DREAM as many of its beneficiaries face near-term struggles as a result of COVID.  

Giving back has always been a core part of PTI CEO Dagan Kasavana’s values, which is why he formed the Wings Foundation – the company’s charitable arm – shortly after founding PTI in 2014. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dagan and PTI have continued the foundation’s efforts by providing funds for food packs and online educational resources to impacted members of their community.

Blackstone’s Global Head of Environmental, Social and Governance, Alison Fenton-Willock, spoke with Dagan about the Wings Foundation’s impact, PTI’s COVID-19 relief efforts, and the company’s recognition by the DREAM Project as their Corporate DREAMer of the Year.

Alison: Philanthropy is clearly a core value of PTI. How have you fostered this culture of giving back, and how are you responding to COVID-19?

Dagan: Very early on, we held our first all-hands meeting and as a team we developed our 10 corporate values. #5 is Helping Communities. These values have become especially salient in light of the difficulties many are facing in this unprecedented time. COVID-19 has impacted countless lives and businesses, and we are striving to do what we can for the communities where we live and operate. Through our partnership with DREAM and other incredible charitable organizations, our Wings Foundation has helped distribute thousands of food packs with essential pantry items, as well as educational packets with books, learning plans, and instructions for online resources. These online tools provide additional school materials for children and parents trying to manage it all. We aim to reach 3,000 families in multiple communities by the end of the month.

When we’re not working to combat the effects of a global pandemic, we still strive to make an impact in the communities where we operate and ensure our team members had opportunities to give their time to causes they cared about. To support this, we’ve offered our people paid time off throughout the year to participate in volunteer activities – from painting schools in the Dominican Republic, to packing school supplies in Mexico, to filling food pantries in Florida. We want to give not only capital, but our time, to lift up those in need. In normal times, I also travel and actively participate in these projects to encourage our employees to live PTI’s values. 

I often say that I want this to be the best company any of our team members has ever worked for, and I know that this goal requires daily attention to and nurturing of our most important asset – our people. To that end, we support forward-thinking benefit plans, including wellness and education reimbursements up to $1,000 per person per year in all our markets, and we work daily to ensure all of our people are involved and engaged in PTI’s mission and growing in their careers. Although we have expanded to more than 14 countries, we will never lose our core culture and values.

AFW: How did PTI’s partnership with the DREAM project come about?

DK: The Dominican Republic quickly became PTI’s largest market outside of the United States as a result of a large tower acquisition in late 2018. For that reason, we have grown our team there from 16 to almost 100 people over the last two years. DREAM Project’s mission to provide quality education to more than 8,000 underserved children in the Dominican Republic, with the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of poverty and improving long-term outcomes for these children, is a natural fit for PTI and Wings. One of our newest initiatives with the DREAM Project is a mentorship program that will pair our team members in the Dominican Republic with students at DREAM schools. We hope to help equip these students with the tools to succeed professionally and eventually give back to their communities in the same way. 

AFW: In your time working with the DREAM Project, have any experiences stood out as particularly memorable?

DK: In February, prior to the dramatic changes brought by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, PTI team members visited the town of Cabarete, where we spent the day hosting a “My Very Own Library” event with one of the DREAM Project schools. Our team members helped children browse hundreds of donated books and select five to take home to begin their own home library – their first books! We had the opportunity to read and interact with the children and spent the rest of the day learning about how DREAM Project provides more than 1,000,000 hours of quality education through 17 programs in 27 communities across the country. It was a truly impactful day for everyone, and one I will never forget. 

AFW: And why did the DREAM Project recognize PTI as their Corporate DREAMer of the Year?

DK: In addition to the financial support PTI has given as a corporation, our team members provide direct donations to DREAM Project and all the valuable organizations we support through Wings. We chose to make the Foundation’s largest single donation in 2020 to DREAM because of our passion for their mission to educate, promote literacy, and involve the entire community in raising healthy children. In addition to our planned mentorship program and the other DREAM projects we support, we are in the process of developing a children’s book with the DREAM team, written by students and published in partnership with PTI. The book will explore themes of global communication and friendship, which are at the core of our values as a firm. We’re looking forward to many more years of partnership between DREAM and PTI.