Banks respond to crisis, invest in communities

Central Bank, Ankeny, Iowa, announced a series of donations to local nonprofits helping those affected by COVID-19.

U.S. Bank, Minneapolis, announced two programs to support its employees and the community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A “premium pay program” will provide front-line employees with a 20 percent hourly wage increase, and a new $30 million commitment to human services organizations and local nonprofits will support nation-wide COVID-19 recovery efforts.

“Our branch, contact center and operations employees continue to play an essential role in ensuring we remain able to provide essential banking services to our customers,” said Andy Cecere, president and CEO of the $495 billion bank. “It’s important that we recognize their extraordinary efforts while also looking ahead to supporting the long-term recovery efforts in communities across the country.”

The premium pay program will offer 30,000 front-line employees a 20 percent wage premium for at least four weeks. The $30 million relief fund will support immediate and long-term recovery across the nation. In the next two weeks, $4 million will go to organizations focused on small business recovery and crisis relief, including United Way, LISC and Operation HOPE. An additional $26 million will go to nonprofits through the end of 2020, including those that support financial education, affordable housing and work assistance. 

“We are pledging to support our communities by donating funds to the organizations working directly with cities and areas affected by COVID-19,” Cecere said. “We know we need to respond quickly and work together to address the longer-term impacts of this pandemic.”

The bank’s immediate investment in LISC will contribute to flexible loan products and coordinate solutions to small businesses facing critical challenges. Grants to Operation HOPE will provide financial education coaching to families and businesses in low- to moderate-income communities. Donations to both national and local United Way chapters will add capacity to the 211 network, which has already experienced a 300 percent increase as people reach out for help. 

U.S. Bank has also established a virtual volunteer network of employees to assist nonprofits. Volunteers will support financial education, online mentoring, marketing and project management.

Central Bank & Insurance, Ankeny, Iowa, donated $55,000 to local food charities as communities face unprecedented challenges and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus. In Sioux City, Iowa, the Food Bank of Siouxland received $5,000 from the bank. 

“The impact the coronavirus has on local families is concerning. It’s been weighing heavily on our minds,” said John Brown, Central Bank CFO and president. “We felt we had to do something substantial to assist with the ongoing availability of emergency food and supplies.”

Central Bank is a family-owned bank and has 300 employees in 26 locations in Iowa and South Dakota. 

“Our local food charities are on the front lines and offer an essential community service,” said the CEO, Tim Brown. “Caring for your neighbor is even more crucial during times like this.

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