By Larry Copenhaver –
Building a Stronger Community
Wells Fargo Awards $500,000 to Seven Nonprofits
In September Wells Fargo & Company provided homeownership training and $4.5 million for home down-payment assistance for 252 low and moderate-income Tucson families. Then in May the company donated $500,000 in grants to seven local nonprofits for community improvement projects.
Like the September assistance program, the recent grants were funded through Wells Fargo’s NeighborhoodLIFT program launched in 2012. This second round of giving was aimed at improving neighborhoods, supporting education programs and workforce development, furthering food access, promoting economic growth and addressing homelessness.
Since the inception, LIFT programs have created more than 9,400 new homeowners in 34 U.S. communities, said John Gibson, Greater Southern Arizona Area president for Wells Fargo. “Wells Fargo is the leading mortgage lender in Arizona. We are proud to support our communities to help ensure a thriving and healthy community base,” Gibson said. The nonprofits are actively leading efforts to help strengthen neighborhoods “and we are excited to help support their tremendous efforts with the NeighborhoodLIFT program local initiatives funds.”
“What this does is makes for a stronger community,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild at a May 20 check distribution ceremony at City Hall. “A city is a collection of neighborhoods, and to keep our city strong and vibrant, we need our neighborhoods to be strong and vibrant.
“Wells Fargo’s NeighborhoodLIFT program has already helped boost homeownership and reduce the inventory of vacant houses. These grants will further help to improve our community by supporting services that build our city up, creating a more promising future for Tucsonans.”
The NeighborhoodLIFT program is a collaboration among Wells Fargo Bank, the Wells Fargo Foundation, NeighborWorks America (an independent nonprofit organization) and local nonprofit organizations. The NeighborhoodLIFT program is designed to provide sustainable homeownership initiatives in cities deeply affected by the housing crisis.
“Our team members are so passionate about making Tucson a great place to live, work and play – and we feel that through the NeighborhoodLIFT program, we are able to do that,” Gibson said.
Wells Fargo presented grants to the following local nonprofits:
Tucson Urban League
$75,000 to support workforce development and other education programs. According to Deborah Embry, president and CEO of the Tucson Urban League, apprenticeship programs will be set up for training for jobs in the construction industry. The program includes job training orchestrated through the League’s housing department that, among other tasks, does home repair and weatherization on homes. Students will get on-the-job training in the housing department, pass the Home Builders Institute curriculum, earn wages and receive a certificate for completing training.
Old Pueblo Community Services
$100,000 for permanent housing for homeless veterans. CEO Tom Litwicki said Old Pueblo Community Services will begin placing homeless veterans in homes “immediately.” He said the organization hopes to end veteran homelessness by the end of the year. “It is a big issue in Tucson. We have twice the homelessness in Tucson as the national average.”
Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
$25,000 to support nutritional health and food production. CEO Michael McDonald said the food bank plans to revitalize the Las Milpitas Garden and provide food production plots to 80 families. The food bank will furnish water, fertilizer and mulch plus instruction on how to grow food. The food bank expects the garden to yield 7,600 pounds of food, which would cost $23,000 at the market. Also the group is planning community leadership programs geared to gardening, especially youth gardening.
Pima Council on Aging
$50,000 to support senior housing assistance to help at-risk seniors remain in their homes for as long as possible. W. Mark Clark, president and CEO of Pima Council on Aging, seeks to recruit 15 to 20 ambassadors to connect people who need services.
Tucson Clean and Beautiful – Trees for Tucson
$50,000 to support neighborhood beautification and promote environmental stewardship. Executive Director Joan Lionetti said the organization plans cleanup projects in targeted low-income areas including South Tucson, a revegetation project on South Fourth Avenue, and cleanup and tree planting in conjunction with neighborhood groups. Also, Tucson Clean and Beautiful will continue working with children to teach them reasons to clean up and vegetate neighborhoods, especially for planting native trees.
Our Family Services
$100,000 to serve young adults and families who are on the verge of becoming homeless or who have recently become homeless. Executive Director Patti Caldwell said there are two major focuses – help financially to avoid homelessness while providing education classes on money management. Integral to the program is monitoring to make sure participants stay on track. The new money also will be used to leverage other funding for temporary shelter.
Pima Community College Foundation
$100,000 to support workforce development and education programs. PCC Foundation Development Manager Alma Yubeta said the funds will provide scholarships to qualified students and otherwise assist with college costs.