Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Big companies not forgetting philanthropy

Folks worried that Banktown's weakening grip on its two largest banks may force a slide in philanthropic responsibility, might want to find something else to worry about -- at least for now.

Last month, Wachovia, now owned by Wells Fargo, used one of Wells' famed red stagecoaches to deliver a donation to Communities In Schools and Junior Achievement. Yes, the scene bordered on photo op, but it did drive home a statement that Wells Fargo intends to help keep Charlotte a strong city in the region.

Today, Champions for Education, the non-profit host that runs Charlotte's Quail Hollow Championship, announced that $1.6 million earned at its 2009 tournament is going to an assortment of Charlotte charities. The gifts include $800,000 for Teach For America in Charlotte, which places recent college graduates into the classrooms of high-poverty schools.

And this evening, Communities In Schools and another nonprofit, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership, are each receiving $200,000 in unrestricted grants over two years from Bank of America through its Neighborhood Excellence Initiative.

The initiative, helping to sustain the long-term viability of nonprofits, is distributing $20 million around the world this year. During its first five years, it doled out $90 million.

The program aligns "with our corporate social responsibility efforts," said Charles Bowman, North Carolina and Charlotte Market president. "We're still giving. Despite the turmoil … we're continuing to execute the things we believe are important to the community. Investing in nonprofits and community leadership is important to the health of the bank and the community."

In addition to the money, the program sends charity leaders to get leadership training.

Beyond the money, Bill Anderson, Communities In Schools executive director, felt the grants recognize what his organization has done to help students on a drop-out path to stay in school and graduate.

"We are honored that the committee for these grants looked upon us as being a worthy nonprofit," Anderson said.

The money will be used to expand the program into two elementary schools, and for branding to provide a better understanding of what CIS does.

"Regardless of where you live, or if you have children in the school system, it is in the best interest of everyone that all children graduate from high school," Anderson said. "In terms of being financially independent, the future is bleak without the minimum of a high school diploma."

The housing partnership works to provide affordable and well-maintained housing for low and moderate-income people. Its president, Pat Garrett, also sees the grants as recognition of the work the group is doing in neighborhooods.

"We're pretty pumped," she said. "We learned about it last Monday at our 20th birthday party. Like most charities, we're always looking for money."

Anderson and Garrett say the gift is another sign that the banks aren't abandoning Charlotte's nonprofits.

"The evidence is clearly there," Anderson said. "The banks understand the importance of long-term viability of the communities they serve and that public schools are essential to that strength."

Said Garrett: "The banks are still very committed to the city and to affordable and low-income housing. I don't know what the future is going to hold, but you can't sit around worrying about it. You've got to keep going."


Anonymous said...

Ha! Rumor is that Wells Fargo will no longer match employee charitable gifts, only education donations. Without the match, there will be a sizable reduction in total donations in Charlotte, especially to smaller local charities. Now they will make donations whenever they want to get the stagecoach out of the garage.

BIlly Belcher said...

No, you mean taxpayers are not forgetting about Philanthropy.

Bank of America is a puppet of the US Government who wastes taxpayers money.