Stories

How a big, blue bus launched our Community Possible grant program at U.S. Bank

August 16, 2021

Looking back on rolling out our first companywide giving platform with a nationwide relay five years ago.

Five years ago, our chief social responsibility officer Reba Dominski walked into our vice chair and chief administrative officer Kate Quinn’s office with a doodle and an idea. 

The doodle depicted what was essentially a U.S. Bank version of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.

The idea was a nationwide bus tour to launch our new community giving and engagement program – Community Possible

“I called Kate and said that we had an idea about a very different way to launch Community Possible, focusing on our amazing U.S. Bank employees who give and serve in their local communities every day,” Dominski explained. “Kate loved it, and the rest is history.”

A few months later in May 2016, we hit the road. Over the course of the summer, a big, blue U.S. Bank-branded bus traveled 13,485 miles, visited 25 states, and led our employees in collectively volunteering 120,000 hours. 

The relay introduced employees and partners to Community Possible, the first formalized, companywide giving and engagement program at U.S. Bank. Through it, we focus on three pillars – Work, Home and Play – to support economic and workforce advancement, financial education, safe and affordable housing, and communities connected through arts and culture.

Along with a professional driver named John, the relay was captained by two young U.S. Bank employees: Dixcy Sulistyo, a U.S. Bank employee member living in San Diego; and Jibreel Black, a summer intern who just graduated after playing college football. The pair quickly gained internal celebrity status, with employees at each stop eager to give them local souvenirs and experiences, like hiking to 10,000 feet of elevation near Yellowstone in Wyoming.

“In every city, it felt like a homecoming,” said Sulistyo, who is now our western region community engagement manager. “We saw employees in such a different light, in their cities and often with their families. Being immersed in all of those individual cultures helped bring to life for me the collective ‘always willing to help’ culture of U.S. Bank.”

She also laughs about the novelty of living out of a 360-square-foot bus – specifically, one that hundreds of coworkers would enthusiastically want to see the inside of every day.

“Right before one event, I had just gotten done cleaning and stepped off the bus,” said Sulistyo, with an inhale. 

“I get back on and there’s John sitting up front cutting Jibreel’s hair,” she exhaled. “It was everywhere.”

When stepping out their hydraulically-powered front door, the pair led U.S. Bank employees in a wide variety of volunteer events, from teaching financial education with Junior Achievement to building homes with Habitat for Humanity. They chronicled their journey with internal blogs as well as media hits, including a 5 a.m. morning show interview at the grand opening of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. 

Ultimately, the Community Possible Relay lived up to both the splash and the impact envisioned by Dominski. It helped build or deepen local relationships with nonprofits and laid the foundation for a grant program that has since made nearly $150 million in charitable contributions.

Now five summers later, Dominski has again taken pen to paper. This time, it was to write a job description for a new role on her team: Head of Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Office. 

The role will work with Dominski, Quinn and other U.S. Bank leaders to design and execute an enterprise ESG strategy. Although it comes with an office rather than a bus, it’ll drive our company forward with the same fuel as the Community Possible Relay.

“Our employees have such a passion for serving their communities – it’s in our cultural DNA,” said Dominski.

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