Central Florida—a diverse region straddling the Atlantic and Gulf coasts—has seen robust population and industry growth over the past several decades. As more people and corporations settle into Orlando, Tampa and other area cities, SunTrust Bank has been there to provide necessary resources. In fact, SunTrust has been fulfilling its purpose—lighting the way to financial well-being—within the Sunshine State for almost 85 years.
Taking a purpose-first approach
“When we have an opportunity to invest in the community, we always evaluate if it aligns with our purpose,” says Tammy Paycer, SunTrust senior vice president and Central Florida division community development manager. “Can we connect the dots to financial well-being, financial literacy, small business entrepreneurship or job creation? We proactively look for those opportunities.”
The SunTrust Foundation has given more than $5.5 million to 265 local organizations over the past five years.
Several foundation grants go to organizations that spur job growth, which helps support the bank’s broader focus on financial confidence. Continued efforts following times of crisis and natural disasters further demonstrate SunTrust’s commitment to the health of Central Florida residents.
SunTrust is committed to helping all consumers nationwide make smart financial decisions so they can eliminate money-related stress and live happier lives. The bank launched The onUp Movement in early 2016 to provide free tools and resources to inspire financial confidence. So far, more than four million people have signed up.
Helping area residents achieve financial confidence
Foundation giving and community-focused financing show no signs of slowing.
A $1.2 million grant from the SunTrust Foundation to its nonprofit partner, LIFT Orlando, will establish the SunTrust Financial Well-Being Center at the Communities of West Lakes, a new mixed-income development in Orlando. The SunTrust Financial Well-Being Center will initially be located at the HUB—the current office space for LIFT Orlando—and will offer residents a wide range of support services to help them achieve financial confidence.
The center’s counselors will provide insights on topics such as budgeting, saving, credit repair and homeownership, as well as employment services. “This new partnership will further the goals of long-term economic viability in the neighborhood, which is vital to building a stronger community,” said Eddy Moratin, executive director, LIFT Orlando.
Furthermore, through a partnership with Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, two dedicated employees will staff this center to schedule classes, workshops, events, and one-on-one meetings with financial well-being advisors for residents. The new center is expected to provide financial services for more than 350 residents annually to help stimulate and strengthen the neighborhood economy.
For the younger residents of Central Florida, The SunTrust Foundation partnered with the Heart of Florida United Way and Seminole State College on the Destination Graduation program, which will connect low-income college students with the resources they need to stay in school. The SunTrust Foundation issued a three-year grant of $380,000 to fund the staffing of this program and provide a financial well-being toolkit and technical assistance resources at all four Seminole State College locations.
“Whenever we’re giving money, we’ve also got people active at the leadership level [on organization boards] and we get teammates involved through volunteer work,” notes Scott Cathcart, President and CEO, Central Florida Division. “It’s not just the dollars, it’s not just the volunteerism, it’s everything acting in concert,” he says. Many teammates donate their free time to local organizations that focus specifically on the needs of the diverse Central Florida region.
“We have a very strong inclusion network, which helps us meet our purpose,” says Sandra Hostetter, Orlando market president for SunTrust. “Working with these groups helps us be laser-focused on the areas they serve and make sure we’re considering their particular needs.”
Commitment to business and infrastructure growth
Although much of SunTrust’s work to better Central Florida is in the not-for-profit space, the bank also leverages its role as a lender to develop and revitalize economically promising communities. Historically, SunTrust helped shape the area by financing infrastructure, including Orlando International Airport, and funding early-stage projects for major employers, such as Martin-Marietta, which is now Lockheed-Martin. That commitment continues today, such as financing the revitalization of One South Orange, a historic building that will soon sport a new façade and additional capacity for more employees and start-up businesses.
The bank’s deep roots in the community and commitment to move Central Florida residents and local businesses to financial well-being are poised to continue growing with the region. As they do, current and future SunTrust-supported programs will have an impact throughout Central Florida not just today, but for years to come.