When U.S. Bank executives asked Black-led nonprofits and other groups working to rebuild the Twin Cities after the recent civil unrest what kind of support they needed, one of the answers they often heard back was trauma care.
So a portion of the $5 million the bank's foundation is allocating to Twin Cities-based organizations is being set aside just for that purpose.
"We have one smaller organization who is going to use it to take her staff up to a cabin where they can just unplug and relax because they've been working nonstop," said Tessa Eddy, who manages the bank's local grants in its hometown of Minneapolis.
Other organizations are planning to use the trauma funds to bring in a counselor to the office to help employees or to give additional paid time off to staff members to help them recharge.
It's a small chunk of the overall grants, but it's one way U.S. Bank tried to be responsive in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Leaders of the bank's foundation also decided to make the grants available as general operating funds instead of placing a lot of restrictions on them as can often be the case with corporate donations.
"We heard from community leaders: 'Right now, please don't make this complicated,' " said Reba Dominski, U.S. Bank's chief social responsibility officer. " 'Please don't put a ton of restrictions on our giving. Trust us to use it in a way that will have the highest impact.' And that's what we're doing."
The $5 million for Twin Cities-based organizations is part of a $15 million "rebuild and transform fund" that the nation's fifth-largest bank first announced in June. The first round of checks to local groups are going out this week. The other national recipients will be announced in coming days.
"We wanted to make sure we had the funds in their hands as soon as possible so they can start the rebuilding," said Andy Cecere, the company's CEO.
The funds are aimed at rebuilding efforts as well as toward making longer-term structural changes in reducing racial and economic inequities. The giving is focused on organizations led by people of color with a priority on Black-led groups.
In the Twin Cities, grantees include organizations that work along the Lake Street, West Broadway and University Avenue corridors, which sustained the most damage from the unrest. Some recipients include the Neighborhood Development Center, Black Women's Wealth Alliance, the Latino Economic Development Center, the Urban League, and Pillsbury United Communities.
U.S. Bank was one of a number of corporations around the Twin Cities to announce significant commitments to give money to racial justice efforts in the aftermath of Floyd's death and the protests that followed. For example, Target Corp. pledged $10 million and Medtronic said it would give $16 million.
In addition, U.S. Bank has committed to increase lending to Black-owned businesses by an additional $100 million a year and to double the number of Black suppliers with which it partners in the next year.
It has also said it will rebuild the three U.S. Bank branches in Minneapolis destroyed during the riots. While work is still in the planning stages, it has been sending out a mobile banking unit between shuttered banks on Lake Street and West Broadway to serve customers in the interim.
A new ATM was also recently installed at the West Broadway location and will refund the extra fees that would normally be charged to non-U.S. Bank customers using that ATM.
Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113