Wells Fargo believes we are only as strong as the communities we serve. When they succeed, so do we. Corporate social responsibility is in our DNA and remains a top priority, especially during these unprecedented times managing through the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental natural disasters. I am proud to be part of Wells Fargo and a team of employees committed to improving lives and strengthening our community.
As the largest corporate donor in Los Angeles, we are proud of our long-standing relationships that make a lasting and positive impact in our communities. In the midst of the global pandemic, the Wells Fargo Foundation re-focused its philanthropic support to assist county, city and nonprofit organizations’ with their COVID-19 relief efforts. As a proud founding member of the County and City of Los Angeles’ LA COVID-19 Regional Recovery Fund, we continue to work with Local Initiatives Support Corporation Los Angeles (LISC LA) to provide loan and grant resources to micro-entrepreneurs, as well as relief and recovery tools for small businesses, nonprofits providing essential services, immigrant-owned enterprises and other vulnerable Angelenos. Recognizing the growing need, the Wells Fargo Foundation allocated $9 million to more than 170 nonprofits throughout Los Angeles County to address housing needs and homelessness, support small businesses and provide emergency response aid for the region’s most impacted communities.
The economic stress caused by the pandemic has been particularly damaging to small businesses. Understanding their needs, Wells Fargo supported entrepreneurs through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and we donated approximately $400 million in gross PPP processing fees to support the wider small business community via a new Open for Business Fund. In addition, The Wells Fargo Foundation has donated more than $17 million to support small business as part of our $175 million commitment in aid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wells Fargo’s Diverse Community Capital program, launched in 2015 to empower diverse small business owners, has helped approximately 150 community development financial institutions (CDFIs) finance $1.6 billion in lending and deliver 1.8 million hours of technical assistance – enabling diverse entrepreneurs to sustain more than 195,000 jobs in rural and urban markets nationwide.
September marked our first company-wide Month of Action campaign, which kicked off a new year-round approach to employee service and giving. Employees participated in the Month of Action by taking part in virtual volunteer opportunities with select charities, making financial gifts to their favorite cause or to the WE Care Fund to help colleagues in need, or by performing acts of kindness. The campaign helped our employees align our giving, volunteering and commitment to the charities we each individually choose to support.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I traditionally enjoy taking time out of my day with my partner the day before Thanksgiving to serve alongside the LA Mission during its annual Thanksgiving meal event. Wells Fargo has been a part of this annual tradition since 2010, and I’ve been fortunate to serve our homeless Angeleno community these past three years since becoming the region bank president for Los Angeles. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, together with SRO Housing, the LA Mission will continue to provide meals and hope to families in Los Angeles. Now more than ever, the LA Mission needs our support as the homelessness in Los Angeles continues to rise. According to the Los Angeles Mission’s State of Homelessness, more than 53,195 people in Los Angeles County are experiencing homelessness, and of that number, 9,322 people in the past year are experiencing homelessness for the first time. Additionally three out of four people experiencing homelessness remain unsheltered. I invite you to join Wells Fargo and me in support of organizations like the LA Mission and LA LGBT Center and many other organizations that are tackling this important issue, which is particularly critical during the pandemic.
Last Year in Los Angeles County:
• The Wells Fargo Foundation donated more than $20.8 million annually to local charities, individuals and families with 484 grants to support nonprofits, schools and community organizations supporting housing affordability, small business growth and financial health
• Wells Fargo employees in LA County volunteered nearly 38,000 hours locally
• We gave each eligible employee 16 hours of paid leave to volunteer
• Employees could qualify for and receive up to $2,000 in Community Care Grants by volunteering and supporting their nonprofit organizations of choice
Additional Wells Fargo COVID-19 relief efforts in Los Angeles County:
• Housing: Funding for critical housing needs including financial relief to homeowners through foreclosure prevention assistance, support to renters, and temporary housing for the homeless.
• Human Services: Financial support to frontline healthcare, food and emergency service providers, as well as support of vital community relief efforts, including Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, AltaMed, American Red Cross, Charles R. Drew University and Project Angel Food.
• Small Business: In partnership with Los Angeles County, Wells Fargo invested $1 million to support the LA County COVID-19 Relief Fund, which provides funding to development corporations like Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation and Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment, which support local minority-owned small businesses.
• Financial Health: Support efforts ensure ongoing financial counseling and coaching to families and individuals, as well as grants to help those struggling due to loss of income. Wells Fargo also supported City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Angeleno Campaign with $250,000 to provide direct relief funds to families in need.
It is an honor to lead the Los Angeles region, and I look forward to discovering what more we all can do together for our City and community. To our employees and community organizations, thank you for all you do. Together we will continue to improve lives and strengthen communities throughout Los Angeles.
Michael Ormonde is Wells Fargo Region Bank President, Los Angeles.