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Corporate Philanthropy as a Catalyst for Change


Nancy Brown, Charles Schwab Sr. Manager, Community Development[/caption] By Nancy Brown, Director of Community Development, Charles Schwab Bank Charles Schwab Bank’s philanthropy focuses on community development activities that include affordable housing. We recognize the acute and long-term shortage of housing for the homeless, affordable housing for people with low incomes and workforce housing in the Truckee Meadows region. As Director of Community Development, I wrestle with continuing to direct all of our resources to fund the status quo, meeting real and immediate needs in people’s lives, or directing some of our funding toward a long-term solution to our regional housing challenges. Until recently, providers of homeless shelters, providers of affordable housing in Reno and Sparks, and those developing regional workforce housing each worked independently to serve their distinct constituents. I wondered what impact we could have if we looked at the whole housing situation across our community. So, instead of making traditional grants in response to specific requests, we opted to work for systemic change and brought in a national expert familiar with housing issues and best practices across the nation. While acknowledging the risk of spending our precious philanthropy budget on a long-term solution, Schwab stepped up to fund the convening and costs of consultants to facilitate a discussion about, and a plan for, increasing housing in the region. This initiative brought together a partnership of entities, Enterprise Community Partners, a national 501(c)(3) expert on housing for low and moderate-income people, Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency and Truckee Meadows Healthy Communities.  The partnership will use the granted funds to develop a Regional Affordable Housing Strategy. The goals for this community-wide, long-term housing effort are two-fold:

  1. To broadly assess current resources, programs, and policies to build a shared understanding between Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County.
  2. To create a formalized structure and process for collaborating and agreeing upon a comprehensive housing plan and development roadmap that will be integrated into the Truckee Meadows Region Plan.

Compassionate charity that responds to immediate needs is counted upon within the Truckee Meadows region. But at Schwab Bank, we are also committed to philanthropy that takes a long view with the goal of sustainable change for those in need.  I take inspiration from the Food Bank of Northern Nevada’s mission statement, “Feeding the hungry today and solving hunger tomorrow through community engagement.” Solving the problem of hunger has a bigger scope than distributing donated food. Tackling systemic change like solving hunger or increasing our community’s housing requires creative thinking and the courage to take calculated risks as we seek solutions. It also requires patience and the financial resources of private philanthropy to see the process through. I’m excited about this opportunity and the strategic approach we are taking to address our ongoing housing challenges in the region. We need your help and support: If Affordable Housing Strategy fits into your vision for our regions tomorrow your support is needed.   The proposed budget to completion is $343,000 which includes Enterprise fees as well as TMHC staff overhead to manage this process. To date, TMHC has secured $159,000 for this effort.  Learn how your corporation can be part of a systemic solution to a long-standing problem facing Truckee Meadows residents. This is your opportunity to invest in change. All funding needed to meet goal needs to be raised by May 2018.  Please contact me for more information.