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Butterfly on field flowers
Butterfly on field flowers
Photo of Keith Mestrich

Keith Mestrich

Former President & CEO

Tune into current events and you’re sure to find there is hardly a shortage of bad news these days. Here is some good news, for a change, about some of the things we’re working on here at Amalgamated.

Last week, Mayor De Blasio announced a new program tripling the city’s investment in minority and women owned businesses (M/WBEs). For our part, we’re committing $20 million in the funding of a low-interest loan program that will provide M/WBEs access to the working capital they need to grow and sustain their businesses. The mayor put it best: “These new commitments will help us continue working to overcome the historic barriers that hold back small businesses, especially those run by women and people of color.” Of the three banks involved in this program, we are proud to be the financial institution committing the most to advance economic opportunity for minority and women-owned businesses.

Amalgamated is also teaming up with NYC on a new and innovative way to help families put money aside for their children’s future. The NYC Kids RISE Save for College Program is a scholarship and savings program designed to make college more accessible and achievable for NYC kids. By giving upfront scholarships to every student and providing the tools and information for families to develop their own college savings plan, the Save for College Program empowers families to build a foundation for their child’s future. The Save for College Program also engages the entire community to help our children realize their college dreams. For now, the test program is open to all kindergartners attending a District 30 public school—regardless of their family’s income or immigration status—and Amalgamated Save for College Bank Accounts are an integral part of the program. If the program proves to be successful, it could be rolled out citywide.

We also announced last week that we are expanding the definition of “corporate board diversity” as defined in our proxy and investment guidelines to explicitly include LGBTQ directors. This means that, as we evaluate potential investments for our clients, one of the metrics on which we’ll judge companies is whether they have fully diverse boards, including LGBTQ directors. The fact is, diverse leaders bring diverse thoughts, perspectives, and experience, and diversity at all levels is good for business. At Amalgamated, we’ve long championed the promotion of women and people of color to corporate leadership, and it is past time for LGBTQ individuals to be equitably represented on boards. As the first non-governmental institutional investor to embrace this policy change, we are proud to be the leading voice in the push for full diversity on corporate boards.

Lastly, New Resource Bank, which is soon to become part of the Amalgamated Bank family, recently made a high-profile appearance in Conscious Company Media for a new product making affordable loans available to startup technology companies. The new offering from New Resource Bank (and P2BI, a fintech asset-based lender) is called Catalyst Credit Line. The Catalyst program aims to make affordable bank loans available to early-stage companies while minimizing maintenance needs and risk. As Susan Graf, VP, Development Manager for New Resource, writes, “True innovation takes place from the bottom up, and making success possible for pre-profit companies with great ideas opens the door for big potential.”

When you turn on the TV, surf the web, or open the newspaper, it can feel like the world has gotten a little more hostile, a little less tolerant, and a lot more divided. Even if it sometimes seems like there’s no escape from bad news, it is our hope that the headlines we’re making come as a welcome relief from other headlines you’re reading. And thanks to you for the part you play in making the world a more just, compassionate, and sustainable place.