2013 Bank of the West Philanthropy Awards recognize the inspiring work of local nonprofits

Oct 23, 2013, 10:00 ET from Bank of the West

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Bank of the West is proud to announce the winners of its fourth annual Philanthropy Awards. Nine nonprofits from across the bank's footprint were awarded $210,000 in total cash grants during the bank's award ceremony October 22 recognizing the leadership and nonprofit organizations that advance innovative solutions and demonstrate meaningful progress in our local communities.

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Momentum Alliance, a youth-led nonprofit from Portland, Oregon, Accion, a microenterprise development organization based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Year Up Bay Area, the San Francisco and Silicon Valley-based internship and job training organization were recognized as the three winning laureates and each received a $50,000 grant. Six finalists were also recognized during the program and received $10,000 each.

"Bank of the West has a long tradition of philanthropy and community engagement that has become a part of our organizational and employee culture," said John Bahnken, senior executive vice president and head of Bank of the West's Wealth Management Group. "On behalf of the bank's 10,000 team members, congratulations to the nonprofit organizations named in this year's Philanthropy Awards. We're pleased to honor the important contributions they are making to advance the well-being in our communities."

Social entrepreneur and bestselling author Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Encore.org, presented a keynote address at the bank's award ceremony encouraging the audience to not just leave a legacy, but also to live one.  He said the nation's growing older population constitutes "an undiscovered continent" of civic talent. Encouraging increased involvement in communities and philanthropy, Freedman supported a redefinition of older adults between midlife and old age, a generation destined for "encore careers" focused on moving from aspiration to action.

Bahnken noted: "Bank of the West has supported individual efforts and organizational philanthropy, plus the communities in which we operate, with $79 billion in loans, investments and philanthropic contributions over the past 10 years. Our Philanthropy Awards," he emphasized, "seek to support vibrancy and health in our communities, and also highlight the inspiring richness of nonprofit involvement throughout the west."

One laureate and two finalists were named in each of the following three categories.

  • Innovation in Philanthropy: recognizes an emerging nonprofit with an innovative approach to improving the quality of life for individuals, prompting long-term sustainable change and addressing a critical societal issue.

Winner:  Momentum Alliance of Portland, Ore., a youth-led nonprofit that inspires other youth to realize their power individually and collectively, and to mentor future social justice leaders.  Momentum Alliance brings together youth who are undocumented, immigrant, LGBTQ, and low-income to build alliances and work together to promote diversity among decision-makers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.  www.momentumalliance.org 

Finalist:   LA River Revitalization Corporation, which started in 2007, works to create healthy, vibrant communities with by creating a continuous 51-mile greenway corridor along the Los Angeles River. The river transformation is designed to connect people throughout Los Angeles and restore natural habitat in park-poor communities particularly through sustainable land use projects and advocacy for river-friendly policy.  www.larivercorp.com

Finalist:   Beats Rhymes and Life, founded in 2012 and located in Oakland, Calif., is dedicated to improving mental health and social outcomes among urban youth by using hip hop and other forms of youth culture as a catalyst for positive change. BRL seeks to foster healthy relationships and equip young people with the skills to become healers, helpers and change-makers in their communities.  www.brl-inc.org 

  • Community Impact: recognizes a nonprofit organization inspired by a Bank of the West customer with a history of philanthropic activity.

Winner:   Accion, a microenterprise development organization, provides entrepreneurs who have limited or no access to traditional bank credit with business credit, loans and training to start or grow their small business. Since 1994, Accion has invested more than $46 million in more than 4,000 entrepreneurs throughout New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, fostering greater economic independence for small business owners, their families and their communities.  www.accionnm.org 

Finalist:  Bread & Roses provides free, live, quality entertainment to people who live in institutions or are otherwise isolated. Started in 1947 in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bread & Roses brings shows to more than 30,000 children and adults in hospitals, convalescent homes, rehab centers, detention facilities, homeless shelters and other community facilities. www.breadandroses.org

Finalist:  Team Smile, Inc., located in Kansas City, Mo., partners oral healthcare professionals with professional athletic organizations to provide free dental care to under-served children in communities nationwide. Team Smile employs the excitement of high profile sports to reinforce the value of life-long commitment to dental health care. www.teamsmile.org

  • Team Member Commitment: recognizes a nonprofit in honor of a Bank of the West team member whose leadership has significantly advanced the organization's mission and inspired fellow team members.

Winner:   Year Up Bay Area, with locations in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, works to close the opportunity divide by empowering urban young adults with the skills, experience and support to reach their potential in professional careers and higher education. The organization provides an intensive, one-year training program that combines hands-on skill development, college credits and corporate internships. Of the nearly 700 young adults who have been through the program since 2008, 84 percent are employed or attending college full-time.  www.yearup.org 

Finalist:   ARCA, a New Mexico nonprofit, has been opening doors for people with intellectual and development disabilities for more than 55 years. ARCA offers workforce opportunities and employment support services in agriculture, horticulture and office placement as well as high-quality living facilities for more than 600 children and adults.  www.arc-a.org 

Finalist:   Girls Inc. of Omaha, provides life skills and mentoring to girls between 5 and 18 to help them overcome gender, economic and social barriers and to create bright and healthy futures. Starting with six girls in 1975, the group has grown to serving more than 1,000 girls each year in its two facilities in North and South Omaha, Neb.  www.girlsincomaha.org 

Nominations for the Innovation in Philanthropy Award were submitted by the public within the 19 western and mid-western states the bank operates. The winner was chosen through an online forum that drew thousands of votes on the bank's Facebook page.  Nominations for the Community Impact and Team Member Commitment Awards were submitted by Bank of the West employees. The winner and finalists in these two categories were chosen by an independent committee of foundation leaders.

Bank of the West's Wealth Management Group and Community Affairs created the Philanthropy Awards program in 2010 to recognize outstanding examples of organizations and individuals who are making a difference in their communities. The Philanthropy Awards program represents one component of the bank's dedication to engaging its financial and human resources to improve its communities. The bank also targets loans, investments and contributions to directly support low- and moderate-income people and communities.

For more information about the Bank of the West Philanthropy Awards and other Bank community initiatives, visit: https://www.bankofthewest.com/about-us/community-support.html

About Bank of the West
Founded in 1874, $64 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), member FDIC and equal housing lender, offers a wide range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 600 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees.

SOURCE Bank of the West