Banks of all sizes earn banking industry’s highest honor awards for community programs
The American Bankers Association Foundation named six banks as 2021 Community Commitment Award winners. The annual awards recognize banks for extraordinary corporate social responsibility efforts in six specific categories ranging from affordable housing to economic inclusion. The winners will be recognized at ABA’s Annual Convention in Tampa on Oct. 19.
The selection committee, made up of independent, national experts in each category, reviewed bank nominations from across the country and chose winners based on specific criteria including the creativity and thoughtfulness of the bank program. Community Commitment Award winners must embody the ideals of corporate social responsibility and demonstrate success in measurable terms.
“Over the last two years, we have seen America’s banks demonstrate an unwavering commitment to supporting their communities in good times and bad,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “This year’s winners represent the very best our industry has to offer and we’re proud to recognize them for their tremendous efforts.”
The 2021 award winners by category are:
- Heritage Bank, Seattle, Wash. for its effort to address chronic homelessness. Heritage Bank financed a $15 million construction loan to aid in the building of Kristin Benson Place in Seattle, which will include 91 studio apartments for single adults who have stabilized after homelessness. The goal is to have an additional 500 apartments within the next four years.
Community and Economic Development
- WesBanco Bank Inc., Wheeling, W.Va. for its New Markets Loan Program. Using an innovative financing model, WesBanco Bank leverages New Markets Tax Credits to fund a variety of small businesses that provide crucial social and commercial services to low-income residents in Appalachia and rural communities.
- Hancock Whitney, Gulfport, Miss. for its Small Business Matters initiative, a comprehensive companywide entrepreneurship and small business outreach program to educate and create opportunities for pre-existing business owners and their teams, with an emphasis on minority and women-owned businesses. The program concentrates on four goals for entrepreneurial and small business success—grow, fund, market and manage.
- UMB Financial Corporation, Kansas City, Mo. for its UMB Market. Established in 2016 in partnership with American Royal, an agriculture education nonprofit, the UMB Market is a financial education simulation that allows students to practice healthy grocery shopping on a budget. Due to COVID-19, UMB worked with three nonprofits to create a virtual experience, developing worksheets and videos to allow students to practice at home. The virtual UMB Market reached nearly 10,000 students across 26 states and two continents.
Protecting Older Americans
- Bank of the Rockies, Clyde Park, Mont. for its Senior Champions program, which includes a team of dedicated bankers focused specifically on community outreach and facilitating awareness of current financial threats facing older Montanans. Senior Champions receive extensive training on warning signs of abuse, exploitation, as well as signs of cognitive decline and other factors that can place residents at higher risk. The program works to ensure older residents remain engaged in their communities and financially healthy.
- Marquette Bank, Chicago, Ill. for its collaboration with Illinois Partners in Hope to provide mobile food pantries that distribute USDA food boxes to Chicago residents. Fueled by its Marquette Neighborhood Commitment initiative, 78 employee-volunteers from five Marquette Bank branch locations served over 19 hours to distribute over 3,000+ boxes of food safely to families in need.
“Our bankers continue to find creative and innovative ways to address the critical challenges facing underserved communities throughout the U.S.,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “Their programs and initiatives have made a meaningful difference for so many and we’re proud to celebrate all they have accomplished. I hope these awards ideas inspire other banks to consider similar programs in their communities.”
All nominations for this year’s Community Commitment Awards will be added to the ABA Foundation’s Banks in their Communities interactive map. The map showcases the corporate social responsibility efforts of banks across the country and allows users to search and view program profiles. Winning and honorable mention entries are noted on the map.
As a part of the annual Community Commitment Award program, the ABA Foundation also honors an individual banker with the George Bailey Distinguished Service Award. The award is given to a non-CEO bank employee who demonstrates outstanding initiative, commitment to their customers and community, and the ability to inspire others. This year’s George Bailey Award winner is Mary O’Connor of Country Club Bank in Kansas City, Mo.