And after? Major lender’s new pledge builds on responses to COVID and racial justice – Inside Philanthropy


This year, as communities were rocked by a global pandemic, corporate philanthropy earned its place as a first responder. Businesses across industries were among the first and largest donors when the coronavirus hit, racking up $ 9 billion in donations, or nearly 64% of the $ 14 billion raised globally from all sources, according to Candid’s data.

When a growing movement for racial justice emerged a few months later, many companies made a genuine effort, albeit after a few false starts, to push the issue forward in their own spheres of influence.

The question philanthropy facing now is what comes next – as the fallout from COVID-19 and the challenge of making real progress on entrenched racial inequity continues to weigh heavily.

A financial services company, Capital One, keeps its footing on the gas, recently launching its Capital One Impact initiative, designed to help close equity gaps and build bridges to economic and social opportunities in a sustainable manner.

The five-year, $ 200 million commitment aims to stimulate economic growth in low- and moderate-income communities, eliminating disparities in housing, business opportunities, employment, racial equity and access to capital. The pledge will build on two other major fundraising initiatives it launched this year, a $ 10 million racial equity pledge and a $ 50 million response to COVID-19.

The present and the future

Based in McLean, Virginia, Capital One was founded over 25 years ago by current Chairman and CEO Richard Fairbank. A financial holding company with credit card, personal and business banking business, its physical footprint spans primarily New York and New Jersey, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Virginia and DC . his last exercise. Capital One has appeared 21 times on the Fortune 500 list, most recently last year, where it ranked 97.

When announcing the Impact Initiative, the company made a clear distinction between its new philanthropic investments and its core businesses, which it describes as supporting financial well-being through socio-economic mobility, fostering a diverse workforce, increasing digital access and helping to create small businesses and affordable housing.

Create social and economic opportunities

The tactics of the Capital One Impact Initiative are based on three pillars: building thriving communities, advocating for an inclusive society, and creating tools to create financial wealth.

In Houston, this translates into support for the regional nonprofit Change Happens !, Good Life Outcomes program, which advances social and racial justice through ‘awareness, advocacy and action’ on behalf of the systems. Harris County Education, Health and Criminal Justice. In the US capital, that means partnering with Empower DC’s grassroots planning efforts to shape equitable development in two neighborhoods, Barry Farm and Ivy City. And in New York, the initiative will support the Vera Institute of Justice’s efforts to make the city a model for ending mass incarceration and criminalizing communities of color.

The initiative’s work aligns with the goals of the company’s separate Capital One Foundation, which supports a range of community initiatives, from education to workforce development.

The strategies also align with other financial institutions whose philanthropy is generally focused on strengthening the community development work they do to meet regulatory requirements and enable growth. Much of Citibank’s recent pledge of $ 250 million to build an inclusive recovery supports the same goals.

Building on a social justice response

In June, Capital One pledged $ 10 million to advance social justice for black communities by establishing a program that will match dollar for dollar on employee gifts. Six selected organizations were eligible for support. Four work in the United States, one works in Canada and one works in the United Kingdom

State organizations include Campaign Zero, which works to reduce police violence; the Equal Justice Initiative, which works to end mass incarceration and challenges excessive penalties; and the National Urban League, a civil rights leader since 1910. In Canada, the company will match donations to the Black Health Alliance, which tackles health issues affecting black communities. And in the UK, Capital One supports Runnymede Trust, a racial equity think tank.

The company also made two new investments in national organizations, building on an existing relationship with the National Urban League and developing a new partnership with the Obama Foundation.

In a message to employees, Richard Fairbank rejected “racism in all its forms” and expressed hope that “together we can harness the sadness, anger and energy of these difficult times to elevate the discussion, bring about positive change and create a greater sense of common purpose and understanding.

Building on a response to the pandemic

Capital One’s initial $ 50 million response to the pandemic focused on “the health, safety and well-being of its customers, employees and communities through relief funding, digital resources and assets he considers unique to the company, such as virtual volunteering, mentoring, employment preparation programs for job seekers, and the talents of learning and artificial intelligence experts.

The grants were initially aimed at helping organizations supporting food aid and hunger relief, housing security, small businesses and low-income people. The company and the Capital One Foundation have teamed up to provide more than $ 1 million to Feeding America, the nation’s largest anti-hunger organization. A $ 25,000 grant helped support the children of affected restaurant workers in the DC, southern Maryland and northern Virginia area through CORE.

Representative support to small businesses included a million dollar grant to Opportunity Finance Network, a national network of community development finance institutions, and support to Accion, a loan organization serving small businesses on the East Coast. , Chicago and San Diego.

Along with social justice, he also implemented an employee matching gift program for COVID-19 relief. As the needs of the community evolve, the company expects support to focus on digital education, student support and education, and financial stability.

“For many segments of our society, the economic dislocation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the social inequalities revealed by the murders of many black Americans may be different in their immediate cause, but they are certainly not new,” says Andy Navarrete, Executive Vice President and Head of External Affairs of Capital One.

“Instead, these events provide another window into the disparities of risks, opportunities and outcomes that persist in our society and reinforce what we know to be true: that we have a lot of work to do to close the gaps. substantial in matters of racial justice, equality and wealth. , and to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to live fearlessly and achieve financial stability and well-being.

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