Thirteen banks and credit unions serving the Iowa and Illinois Quad-Cities have given more than $130,000 to the United Way’s United for Equity Fund, money that will be distributed to grassroots organizations and social entrepreneurs striving for greater equity among people in education, income and health.
Contributors are Ascentra Credit Union, Bank of America, BankORION, Blackhawk Bank & Trust, Blue Grass Savings Bank, Deere Employees Credit Union, IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, Northwest Bank and Trust, Quad City Bank & Trust, R.I.A. Federal Credit Union, SENB Bank, TBK Bank and The Family Credit Union.
The fund goal is $200,000.
Northwest Bank and Trust President and CEO Joe Slavens was an early supporter of the project and personally reached out to executives to do their part to raise living standards for everyone in the community.
"While we might like to think that inequity does not exist in the Quad-Cities, the United Way and the African-American Leadership Society have tracked racial disparities that divide the community in areas that affect quality of life," Slavens said in a news release.
The reason for the contributions is to put "opportunity in the hands of every Quad-Citizen," Rene Gellerman, United Way president and CEO, said in the news release.
The financial institutions' "collective investments, dedication and their passion for a stronger, more equitable region will help drive transformational change and strengthen the building blocks of opportunity,” she said.
As for how the grants will be distributed, the process will begin on Nov. 17 when United Way hosts an online Courageous Conversations event at which attendees will hear the themes and ideas that emerged from the Equity Challenge Summit held on Oct. 15.
Attendees will cast votes on how they would prioritize the themes, Gellerman said.
Then a panel of volunteers will take that insight, coupled with a full report of discussions at the Equity Summit, and prioritize projects they believe will make the biggest impact and put opportunities in the hands of more minority Quad-Citizens.
Entities wanting to apply for a grant can do so through mid-December through the website, unitedwayqc.org.
The volunteer panel will be led by retired U.S. Army Col. Dr. Burl Randolph, Jr.
The 18 panelists are: Kathleen Badejo, Quad-Cities Community Foundation; Aimee Bland, Rock Island Arsenal; Marissa Cantu, Illinois/Iowa Center for Independent Living; Kevin Gibbs, TBK Bank; Alisha Hanes, Rock Island Arsenal; Jim Huiskamp, Black Hawk Bank & Trust; Frank Klipsch, former Davenport mayor; Pandora Lawrence, retired principal; Stacy Litchfield, Deere & Co.; Matt Mendenhall, Regional Development Authority; Margarita Mojica, Glenview Middle School, East Moline; Randy Moore, Iowa American Water; Anna Oliver, Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center; Maria Ontiveros, Mercado on Fifth; Kent Pilcher, Estes Construction; Alfred Ramirez, Diverse Strategies; Jennifer Rouse, SENB Bank; Alex Schnell, Deere Employee Credit Union; Tameka Toney, Quad-Cities Community Foundation; and Jabari Woods, Davenport Community Schools.
United Way staff on the panel are Karrie Abbott, Kayla Babers and Gellerman.
The awards will be made in mid-February.
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