We support needs that are sustainable and don’t commit funds to recurring expenditures. Examples include funding for a new program launch, a curriculum to expand or strengthen a program, equipment to deliver a program, and capital needs.
Capital campaign requests may be considered (1) if the purpose of the campaign aligns with the Foundation's priorities and (2) when the campaign is 60% complete in donations and pledges toward its fundraising goal, showing the campaign’s viability and community support.
We're not equipped to support:
Annual grants or general operations (United Way chapters are the exception.)
Conferences without a charitable focus
Documentaries and films
Individual public schools, PTAs
Medical or scientific research
Nonprofit hospitals that don’t primarily serve medically indigent people, including the uninsured
Organizations that have a written policy of discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity or organizations that foster or encourage racial, religious, class, or other prejudices
Private schools, unless the majority of students represent low- to moderate-income households or otherwise vulnerable children
Religious, veteran, or fraternal organizations, unless it’s a secular program or project benefitting the general community
Sponsorships or fundraising events
Sports booster clubs
Travel-related events, including student trips or tours
Our Purpose in Practice: Building Career Pathways to Economic Mobility & Strengthening Small Businesses
Truist Foundation President Lynette Bell, along with foundation leaders Meghan Pietrantonio and Renee Villanueva, talk through Truist Foundation’s vision, grantmaking pillars, giving guidelines, and signature programs during this June 28, 2023 webinar.
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Hello and welcome to Truist Foundation's webinar, highlighting our purpose in practice, Building Career Pathways to Economic Mobility and Strengthening Small Businesses. My name is Lynette bell, and I am president of the Truist Foundation. We're so excited that you registered to join us for this informational session to learn more about our foundation and our approach to giving.
Joining me today to help present this information are two teammates, Meghan Pietrantonio, head of strategy and community relations, and Renee Villanueva, head of Truist Foundation Governance and Risk for the foundation. Renee, do you want to discuss what our conversation will be about today?
I would love to, Lynnette. During today's session we'll talk through Truist Foundation's vision, our grant-making pillars, are giving guidelines, and highlight our signature programs. As we share information, please remain on mute, but feel free to use the chat feature to ask questions. A member of our team is available via chat to address your questions in real time. Lynette, why don't you start by sharing more about our vision?
Thank you, Renee. That's the perfect place to start. So we understand that in 2020 at the Truist Foundation, we really went through this long journey. And the company also went through a journey. And so Truist Financial Corp. Is a purpose-driven financial institution whose primary purpose and mission is to inspire and build better lives and communities, truly defining who we are as a company. It's at the heart of every decision that we make at Truist.
And the Truist Foundation is really committed to providing local support to our communities by abiding these principles and values. We know that it is crucial and important to how we play a role in supporting communities across our footprint and beyond.
So, Lynnette, you mentioned the Truist Foundation was established in 2020. Now, we all know there were a lot of social issues happening at that time. We had the COVID-19 pandemic and racial reckoning. Did that play into the strategy that we developed?
Yes, Renee, it's a really great point to make that we had a lot of disruptions in our economy and in our world. And so the Truist Foundation board of directors was really very critical in making sure that we embed, not only new values and principles that guide our work and our implementation of the investment, but really, that we bring equity into the field. And so when we talk about equity, we really want to make sure that our investing platform embeds racial equity.
There are clearly, during the time of disruption that we had with the pandemic and racial reckoning, a lot of foundations went through the process of creating a separate strategic pillar on equity. We decided that it became part of the DNA of our fabric. Like, this is part of who we are and how we show up every day, not only in our grant making in our communities, but as we work with third-party vendors and consultants.
And so for us, this was the way that really showed up in a way that says, this is how we support communities. It really differentiates us and creates that strategic direction that shows real alignment to critical issues and needs at the time they're happening. And so now, we know the reason most of you are here today though, is to find out how do you apply and get support from Truist in our grant-making process. So with that, Renee, you want to talk through some of those examples?
Would be glad to. So at Truist Foundation, we've implemented trust-based philanthropy tenets within our work. And one ways we do that is we have an open application process. This means nonprofits do not need an invitation code to apply. We do require all applicants though, go online and submit an application. And you can do that by going to our portal at www.Truist.com/foundation. At the bottom of the page, you just click on Apply For a Grant, and it'll take you to our grant application portal. This is a new platform. So we do want to make sure our listeners are aware if you happen to apply for a Truist Foundation grant previously, you will have to set up a new user ID and password before you can go in and apply.
We do have three grant deadlines we also want to make sure you are aware of-- March 31, July 31, and November 30. And just so you're aware, the decisions for those are as follows. So March 31 cycle deadline applications-- they will receive a decision in June. Those applicants that applied by July 31 will receive a decision in November. And those that apply by November 30 will receive a decision April of the following year.
Renee, I've always liked that we had three different deadlines to apply for funding from Truist Foundation. So if you missed the first one, then you don't have to wait another full year to apply. The other piece that is really critical is that this gives the organizations the opportunity to one, to see, does their mission and/or programmatic support really align to the values and strategy that Truist Foundation has established? And again, we know that organizations are always looking for supportive funding to make sure that investments are happening in our communities. So, Renee, why else might an organization really consider Truist Foundation when they apply for a grant?
One of the things that Truist Foundation we have in place is a three-year stewardship policy. So we ask our nonprofits that receive a grant to wait three years before they receive another grant. And we've had this in place for several years. And it's been beneficial for both us and for the nonprofits. The nonprofits are able to get a more substantial grant. And that will help them sustain that program further.
And also, they do not have to spend time every year applying for a grant. And then this opens up the opportunities for Truist Foundation to support other nonprofits that maybe we weren't aware of previously. So for example, if an organization receives a grant in 2023, they could apply again in 2026. And this is at the organization level. So we want to make sure that our nonprofits understand that sometimes you have one or more projects that you're working on and you want support for.
We ask that you please pick that project that fits our pillars the most and apply for that one, because we would not be able to support the second project at a later time due to our stewardship policy. And lastly, we want to make sure that if an organization does apply and are declined, they are able to apply again for another grant.
That's really helpful content to keep in mind, Renee. Another topic that keeps coming up with the grant-making process that Truist Foundation has in place is that, what are some of the requirements of reporting? Meghan, I know that as part of this journey that we've been on that you actually started working with, how do we evaluate the framework, how do we evaluate the reporting back from nonprofits, and what's considered in that space. So what really is the reporting requirements from Truist Foundation?
Thanks, Lynnette, that is an important consideration that we're making when reviewing grants. So just as you said, we have committed to a learning agenda with the Truist Foundation team. And we want to support the nonprofit partners that we invest in to monitor, evaluate, and learn from the programs that we're supporting with our Truist Foundation funding.
There's a couple of guiding principles that we use to ensure that this framework is doing what we intend for it to do. So first, we want to make sure that the data that we collect through this reporting process is actionable. We want to make sure that it's an opportunity for us to learn, to ideate, to innovate within the framework that we've set. We also want to make sure it's right size. So we don't want to collect data just to collect data. We want to ensure that the value of the data exceeds the burden and the cost to collect it.
Third, we want to make sure that we stay outcome and impact focused, so in the ways in which the data is suggesting to us how the Truist Foundation investments are changing systems, are supporting communities through our two pillars that you mentioned, Renee. We also want to make sure that we stay learning centered, not only at the Truist Foundation, but also within the nonprofit organizations that we support. And we want to make it equitable, so ensuring that the data that's collected from individuals or small businesses, that that information gets fed back out to the community so that they can learn alongside us.
One of the more specific questions that we get about reporting is, when do I need to report? For most of our grants, we request a report about a year after they receive their funding. Now, for our grants that are larger, say $1,000,000 or more, for those grants, we're going to request more information. So we might have biannual reports where we're asking them to submit online through our portal, and also have a conversation with us-- what's working? What's not working?
We really do try to make this process as easy as possible by providing the form online so that our grant applicants are familiar with the system. They can go in. They can include their data there and hit Submit and be done.
So, Meghan, as you talked about providing that learning agenda for the foundation as we look at some of the reporting, what I heard was measurable, right size, actionable items, and reducing the burden and cost to nonprofits of reporting, but what about some of the problem-focused direct services that we want to capture? Because what will that inform us of as we create a learning agenda for the foundation?
That's a great question, Lynnette. And we are still iterating through this process. You will see on the screen, several of the portfolio-level indicators that we're requesting by pillar area, as well as some of the systemic-level indicators that we're requesting. We know that change comes both in the short term and in the long term. So we want to ensure that the data that we collect is suggesting changes for a better future, next year, but also in 10 years from now.
Great. I know that when we talk about making ecosystem and systemic change along these strategic pillars, we're in it for the long haul based on what you and I have discussed. And so as we talk about what we've done in the past, so we want to track and report how are we investing our funds, but let's look back at 2022 for just a minute. I'd like to share with the audience today about what we put into practice and what that really looks like.
So in 2022, the Truist Foundation invested more than $60 million in nonprofits, providing support directly in grant-making and career programs that support caring for our teammates, as well as disaster and recovery relief. When we look at the specific areas of focus of our two pillars, building that career pathway to economic mobility and strengthening small businesses, we provided over 250 grants under the one pillar of building that career pathway to economic mobility, really helping nonprofits be very strategic in that kind of career placement.
Under strengthening small businesses, we provided over 100 grants, really trying to move and shift the needle for the infrastructure on how our ecosystem is really providing direct support to small businesses. So we know that this is clearly an area that we were committed to and we showed up in a really big way for a bank of our size. So for 2023, I cannot imagine what we're going to do, but I'm really excited about where we're going.
That's great information, Lynnette. And what strikes me about that is the 97% and 100% low to moderate income support that we've given to the communities and the BIPOC small business support within our pillars. Those statistics really show that our team is really focused on this strategy, right? And we want to keep continuing on.
Yeah. I would say, Renee, it's really critical when we talk about some of the reporting back that Meghan was talking about in our measurement evaluation framework, we know that the nonprofit organizations that we're creating these initiatives with are supporting individuals who are proximate to some of the demands and concerns that are happening in communities, but also helping them to create that economic mobility and growth that they need. And so 97% of constituents that are served are low to moderate income is a really critical indicator of the work that we're doing that is long term, that is going to be very impactful. It's going to have a systemic change inside of placement.
And then when we think about small businesses, again, that ecosystem is so complex. That's what we learned. But it really drives home that there are reports that we can do that shows real growth and sustainability inside of that ecosystem. So, yes, we're very much laser focused on driving the impact we want to see. But we're not in this for a short-term period. Like, we're in it for the long haul, because we realize in order for real changes to happen and barriers to be eradicated, you have to be in for the long haul. So that's what this work really exemplifies.
And I know the burden of reporting is there. But I think I heard Meghan say right size and reduce the burden. Meghan, you really led the charge last year. So as we talk about the investments we've made and what the measurement evaluation and some of the governance framework that Renee has talked about today, we really wanted to start, as I talked about, creating a long haul of working through a system. And so you work very extensively on a signature initiative for the Truist Foundation called Where It Starts. Why don't you tell them about it?
I am so excited to share more about Where It Starts initiative. So earlier this year in January of 2023, we launched Where It Starts. It's a signature initiative that's $22 million, multi-year commitment to really investing in our communities to support Black, Indigenous, and people of color, as well as women, to build better careers and to break down barriers to business.
Through this long-term commitment, we are partnering with three agencies. The first is CAEL, or the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, which is receiving a $15.7 million grant. And the next two organizations are Living Cities and Main Street America that are receiving collective $6.3 million investment.
Meghan, can you tell us more about how those partners are using those grant funds to help the communities that they serve?
Absolutely, Renee. Each of these organizations is launching a place-based initiative across five cities in the Truist footprint-- Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Memphis, and Miami. And through this work, they're really looking at, how do they build better career pathways through the work that CAEL is doing to ensure that BIPOC workers in industries that have been historically underrepresented-- that they have a path way into these industries, including financial services.
And Living Cities and Main Street America are looking at ways that they can break down barriers to business for entrepreneurs of color and for women. This place-based work is designed to really create opportunities for us to sit down at the table alongside those that are receiving the benefit of the program. So have those individuals at the table that are participating in the Career Pathways Program. Have the small business owners and the entrepreneurs sitting down at the table to say, these are the issues, these are the problems. Let's really find solutions together that lead towards the longer term success of the program.
The other big signature initiative that we launched last year was Inspire Awards. Lynette, do you want to talk more about that?
Yes, I'm so excited to talk about Inspire Awards. So last year, was the first ever Truist Foundation Inspire Awards. We really wanted to, as you say, dive in and co-create initiatives, really understanding the dynamics that are happening on the ground when we talk about strengthening small businesses in one of our strategic pillars. And so we partnered with MIT Solve, an arm of MIT, to help us create a pitch-a-thon that really addressed the question of, how do you support small businesses in this ecosystem?
The event was so successful last year. It was hosted here in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Mint Museum. We had over 127 applicants, and 7 finalists were selected. They received over $1,000,000 in awards, as well as wrap-around support of funding.
The great news that we are so excited about is that this is going to be our second year of the Truist Foundation Inspire Awards with our partner, MIT Solve. And we're so thrilled that we are going to have a second year of challenge with these innovators. We've just made the announcement last month in Boston at MIT. And so the challenge question for 2023 is, what innovative, tech-based solutions or platforms is your non-profit leveraging to support small business owners in the US?
So I'm going to repeat that one more time. What tech-based, innovative solutions or platforms is your nonprofit leveraging to support small business owners in the US? So please, if you're out there and you want to apply, you still have time to apply for this great hack-a-thon or solve-a-thon. So you can go to TruistFoundation.com/inspire awards to learn and apply for more.
That's really great information. I'm very excited that nonprofits will have an opportunity to apply. Renee, we're doing this webinar for all the nonprofits out there. What are some other questions that we're frequently hearing in our inbox or in the chat?
Thank you, Meghan. One of the very common questions that we receive is, what types of organizations do we support? And also, do we support fiscal sponsors and agents? So we will support organizations that are 501(c)(3) or 509(a)(3) with supporting documentation. We are unable to support private foundations, however. The great news with fiscal sponsors is, yes, we are able to support an application for a fiscal sponsor. We just ask that they please submit a report one year after the grant is completed on behalf of that nonprofit.
And another question we commonly receive is capital campaigns-- do we support capital campaigns? And, yes, we do. So there's two criteria there. It does have to meet one of our pillars. And secondly, we ask that the organization has already met their 60% of their fundraising goal. So this means other donors, cash pledges have been received by the nonprofit at that 60% level. That way, we know that community is really invested in that. And we'll be glad to look at applications for capital campaigns.
Those are really great details to share, Renee. I think one other reason that we take such deliberate time to look at the data is that when we consider applications, we really want to understand the sustainability of the organization to support their program. Truist Foundation doesn't ever want to be the sole, independent investor in a program or support of a nonprofit. So we really consider all of the data as we inform our decision, from the strength of the application to the budget.
One other question that we keep getting frequently in our inbox on the foundation is, hey, do you provide any other support? What about program support versus operating and support? What about that, Renee? What can you tell them?
Yes, so we look to provide operating and project support for programs that again, align to our pillars. And you will hear "aligned to our pillars" a lot from me today. So also, we will support capacity building and capital needs. We will even look at seed funding. So sometimes, a nonprofit has a great project they're trying to get off the ground and launch it. However, they just need that extra set of funds. And those really have to strongly aligned to our pillars.
Now, I do have to talk about some of the things we would not support, and that would be recurring expenses and general operating. So it's always good to know what we're looking to support when you're filling out the application. Another thing we would not provide, annual grants, as I mentioned in our stewardship. And there are five areas that we would not be able to support, that is scholarships, endowments, sponsorships, fundraising events, and films and documentaries. And of course, we would not support anything that does not align to our pillars.
What if an organization, Renee-- I know I've seen this question before in the inbox as well-- what if an organization is applying for a capital grant, as well as a program grant? What do we do there?
I can jump in on this one, Lynette. We certainly have seen this before, and we can review requests that are for both a capital portion, as well as a programmatic portion. What we ask is that the organization just submit one request. So when you go into the portal, there's an opportunity to submit the program budget. And within the program budget, you can outline, what are the expenses for the capital project, what are the expenses for the program or the project budget, and making sure that just one submission for each organization for each cycle. We can review multiple requests from a single organization.
Another question that we're often asked, Lynnette, is, how much should I apply for? Like, what's your typical grant size?
That's a really good question, Meghan. Certainly, we, as you state, assess the requests that come in to our portal based on the strength of the application, the budget concerns, how diversified is the funding source for our applicants. And so again, as I stated earlier, Truist never wants to be the sole, independent provider of funding. But we do want to support organizations.
And as we look at grant sizes, they really span the gamut. I would say for more regional, place-based investment, our smallest grant has been as low as $5,000. But for our national ones, as you stated earlier about CAEL getting $15.7, the national grants can range anywhere from a million or higher, depending on the type of request that's coming in. Is it a combined request, to your point? Is it a capital and, as well as programmatic, as well as maybe capital? I don't know.
It could be a number of things. But we do consider all of those factors as we assess the application based on the strength, based on the number of investors, and based on the budgets that we have for that. So, yes, we don't specifically set a specific minimum range or maximum range for any grant that we make.
And, Renee, another common question that we hear is, what about organizations that operate outside of the Truist footprint? Would they be eligible to apply?
Yes, so Truist Financial Corp. is located within 18 states. We are on the southeastern seaboard all the way to Texas and up to the mid-Atlantic. So a majority of our funding is based in those areas. However, we do have an opportunity for nonprofits outside of that footprint to apply as well through our national markets application.
So we've been talking, Renee, you keep saying-- I'm going to say it over-- it has to align to our pillars, align to our pillars. And so, Meghan, as head of strategy and community relations for the Truist Foundation, let's really take a deep dive into these two pillars-- building career pathways to economic mobility and strengthening small businesses. As head of strategy, I know you have all the details.
Absolutely. So within our building career pathways to economic mobility pillar, we're really helping to support job seekers to enter into a middle skill career. And we're hoping to improve their family's outcomes and ease the burden and mental stress that comes along with living in poverty. We focus in three areas.
So first, it's all about resource navigation, helping individual workers overcome any barriers that they have to employment, such as things like career coaches to help them find the right line of work or right industry to move into, or even career coaches to help them find long-term child care when they need it. The second, building upon that is helping to develop the career pathways and the specific training for these middle skill careers.
And third, we like to support organizations that are doing field building, so really looking across regional workforce systems at the ways in which employers might have a change that they need to implement at their industry or at their place of work to encourage more people of color, more women, more individuals who have been historically left out-- to encourage them to join the workforce. For this pillar, we're ultimately seeking to impact frontline workers or essential skills types of workers, as well as those who are underemployed or unemployed. And we only support individuals who are 18 years of age or older.
We also really prioritize individuals who haven't had a traditional career pathway. So they haven't attended a four-year or bachelor's degree program. We're looking at these communities in which we can implement change for those that have been left behind. So we're really trying to prioritize workers who are Black, Indigenous, people of color, as well as women.
So, Meghan, on behalf of our listeners, that was a lot of information. Can you please define a little bit more what a front line worker is and what middle skill jobs are?
That's a great question, Renee. So for the Truist Foundation, a frontline worker is any individual that is providing direct services or products to a customer. So think about manufacturing jobs, cashiers, other individuals that are providing that direct service. And for us, a middle skill career is any career that requires a high school diploma or a GED, but does not necessarily require the advanced technical training of a four-year college or advanced degree.
That's very helpful to understand, Meghan. Now, when we think about adult learners, they typically would have children. If there's a nonprofit organization out there who has programs that support child care, what can they do to apply for a grant?
Absolutely, Renee, and that's often something that we see through the grants that we're providing for resource navigation or career coaching. So absolutely, if a nonprofit organization is either providing the child care or is providing a pathway towards finding child care that suits the worker at the times that they need it in a location that's convenient to their home or their office, that's a type of organization and a program at an organization that we would consider supporting. Now, we wouldn't be able to support any programs for children that are K through 12.
So our targeted funding is really to help support the adult who's 18 years or older. We're not equipped to support children, any K through 12 programs for career advancement or job placement.
So those are really great examples, Meghan. And I think I heard, field building, placement, navigation resources, and you just skimmed a little bit about what we would not support. But as you really dive into the ecosystem of the pillar, what are some other things that Truist Foundation cannot support on the career pathways?
Absolutely. So while other funders are equipped to support children, the Truist Foundation really targets all of our funding primarily on focusing on adults. So we're looking for adults who are underemployed or unemployed. Another area that we wouldn't support are any adults that have been through a four-year or a traditional career pathway program, and they are already in stable employment. We're looking for the adults that have not transitioned through, or matriculated through a full four-year college program, that need a little extra help, maybe a little additional training or upskilling to enter into a career that will lead them towards economic mobility.
That's great information, Meghan. We know that nonprofits have limited staff and resources. So we definitely do not want them wasting their time applying for a grant that they may not get.
That's exactly right, Renee. And now, we also get questions about our second pillar, Meghan, which is strengthening small businesses. And we know the complexity of that ecosystem is so large. And for the last 15 to 20 years, regulators have been talking about access to capital for small businesses. How is Truist Foundation second pillar, strengthening small business, differentiated?
So our second pillar is to ensure that the opportunity is there for women and people of color to become entrepreneurs or to scale their business and grow their business. So within this pillar, we've identified three strategies. The first is really to increase access to capital for individuals that may not have all of the opportunities and the services out there that other individuals have.
The second is really to help identify organizations that are providing technical assistance. Maybe this is a business accelerator that sits within a university or a college that's supporting the community's entrepreneurs. Maybe this is an organization that helps to connect small businesses with the legal support, the marketing support that they need. One of our big partners throughout the Truist Foundation footprint has been CDFI because they're a great organization that does both increasing access to capital, as well as providing that technical assistance that's so necessary for organizations to be sustainable.
Now, Meghan, you said CDFI as an acronym. I have to stop you. Explain what that means before you go further.
No, thank you for the question. CDFI stands for Community Development Financial Institutions. And they're really created to be that partner with small businesses to start up their companies, to help them grow, to help them connect to social networks, to help them connect to the resources that they need to be successful.
Well, those are really good examples under that second pillar in that ecosystem. So just like the first one, Meghan, let's just go into a little examples of what we will not support under strengthening small businesses.
Absolutely. In strengthening small businesses, we cannot support local chambers of commerce, just for their general operating support or for any kind of membership dues. We also can't support any programs that are not inclusive of all different types of entrepreneurs. And we are looking at how can we provide direct services to the small business owners.
There's an opportunity for us to really support the growth of local economies, however, we can't support a local CDC or an economic development corporation to advance just their general operations.
Thank you, Meghan. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. I hope we provided the information you were looking to learn throughout this discussion. But if we weren't able to get to your question, please visit our website at Truist.com/foundation for more details. If you still can't find the answer to your question, please feel free to email our team at TruistFoundation@truist.com.
So, Lynette, I'll turn it over to you for any closing comments.
Well, thank you, Renee. And thank you, Meghan, for providing this great informational session to our listeners today. I'd like to thank you both. It has been a pleasure to be on this panel with you, providing your expertise. We know that there's a lot of work to be done to inspire economic mobility and build wealth in undercapitalized communities.
We also recognize that there are numerous nonprofits who have been working in these areas driving impact for years. And we want to partner with them. Our hope is to identify these organizations, create partnerships, and invest to help continue this good work, ultimately, driving systemic-level change and creating greater opportunity for all.
We're excited about where Truist Foundation is headed. And we believe that together, we can build a better world. Thank you for your time today and have a great afternoon.
How to apply
We’re eager to hear from organizations that serve critical needs in their communities, by building career pathways to economic mobility and strengthening small businesses. Start a grant application through our online portal, and see our grant cycles below to learn when your application will be considered.