About 80 new residents relocate to Nashville each day. As the city’s population grows, SunTrust Bank and its team members are coming together to maximize their positive impact on the growing needs of the community, while fulfilling their mission of being a purpose-driven company.
SunTrust wants to help all consumers, regardless of where they live, make smart financial decisions so they can eliminate money-related stress and live more confident lives. The bank launched The onUp Movement nationally in early 2016 to provide free tools and resources to help inspire financial confidence. To date, more than 3.6 million people have signed up.
By supporting the growing Nashville community, SunTrust is fulfilling its purpose of lighting the way to financial well-being. “We work with organizations that provide mental health, we have organizations that work with homeless families,” says Carolyn Ermey, director of charitable giving at SunTrust in Nashville. “All of those organizations touch on things that are well within our purpose.”
Putting purpose into action
The Metropolitan Government of Nashville has called on SunTrust to provide money management tips to local Metro Schools students, so they’ll be prepared to handle their own finances when they begin working. “We want to give people the opportunity to change their whole lifestyle, not just make a quick fix, but to actually give them skills and opportunities to help their families break the cycle of generational poverty,” Ermey says. “A lot of times, the children that are in these programs go back and teach their parents, who’ve never had anybody show them these things that they are learning.”
Many SunTrust employees serve on the boards of local organizations—including Habitat for Humanity, the YMCA Y-CAP and Junior Achievement—and then recruit their SunTrust teammates to volunteer. Bank employees support these groups’ efforts to develop the local workforce, educate residents on financial management and improve access to affordable housing (often a challenge in areas experiencing economic and population growth, like Nashville is).
“In Nashville, there’s a tremendous need for more affordable housing,” explains Dorothy Cleaves, community development manager at SunTrust. “We continue to invest significantly with The Housing Fund and their efforts with providing affordable housing to low- to moderate-income families in Nashville.” The Housing Fund provides low- to moderate-income residents with down payment assistance and foreclosure prevention services and offers developers community development loans for mixed use and other non-residential projects that benefit low- to moderate-income people or neighborhoods. Last year, the bank also acquired Pillar Financial, a lender with specialized expertise in financing affordable multifamily housing projects as well as student and senior housing and healthcare properties.
SunTrust supports a wide variety of other programs in the Nashville area, including the Interfaith Dental Clinic, which provides affordable dental care to people in need so they can feel more self-confident when looking for a job, and scholarship programs for students at Trevecca Nazarene University and Lipscomb University so they can finish their educations. The bank works with Safe Haven Family Shelter to transition homeless families into permanent housing, and with Park Center to empower people facing mental health and addiction challenges to find work and create meaningful lives for themselves.
Taking a one-team approach
SunTrust and its approximately 1,000 Nashville-area teammates collaborate to see that the impact on the community is as positive as possible
“If we’re truly serving our purpose, the only way that we can do it is by engaging all of our teammates. It makes us stronger, and it makes the community stronger,” says Scott Pohlman, SunTrust president, Nashville region. The bank uses this philosophy when it comes to supporting businesses through financing efforts. SunTrust not only extends credit to a number of companies in low- to moderate-income areas so they can expand and create jobs; it also acts as a true partner to these businesses. To do that effectively, SunTrust teams include industry specialists who understand the needs of the growing and increasingly diverse Nashville economy. These specialists and other SunTrust employees coordinate across functions within the bank to put local businesses at the center of their work and to promote growth.
“When we are coordinated as a team on behalf of our clients, we’re putting the client at the center of our discussion and bringing all the solutions and recommendations that we have in the institution to bear,” Pohlman says. “When we’re doing that for our clients, our clients are benefitting, and inevitably that flows into the communities.”