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Right on time for Pride Month, we’re celebrating the grand opening of a U.S. Bank branch serving the first officially recognized LGBTQ+ neighborhood in the United States.
The branch, located in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood, features year-round, Pride-themed artwork and a community room available to be used by nearby nonprofits and small businesses – many of which are focused on serving or led by members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is one of our four LGBTQ+ flagship branches, with others in West Hollywood in Los Angeles; Capitol Hill in Seattle, and the Castro in San Francisco.
As one of our newest branches, it also features the latest technology and design enhancements to improve customers’ banking experience. Bankers equipped with tablets can help customers throughout the many spaces of the branch, including customer support stations which have replaced common teller lines as a space for one-on-one conversations or engagement offices for more sensitive financial conversations.
The branch also features interactive teller machines (ITM) which provide customers with expanded access to their accounts with a touch of screen, including the ability to deposit checks and make payments and the option to access using contactless payments.
It’s a visible representation of how we see the future of branch banking – one that blends our significant investments in digital tools with the irreplaceable value of building meaningful relationships with the surrounding community.
“Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community myself, the new flagship branch is nice to see,” said Alberto Venzor, project manager at U.S. Bank. “I hope the branch becomes a real anchor in the community here.”
To mark the grand opening, U.S. Bank made a $2,000 donation to Center on Halsted, a nonprofit LGBTQ+ community center in Chicago, to specifically support Black and Latinx transgender youth. This donation was made in addition to our normal grant support, which we’ve provided since 2012. U.S. Bank employees have marched with Center on Halsted for the last several in-person Pride celebrations and partnered with the organization on Werq, an annual LGBTQ+ career event where we have hired multiple local employees.
“The LGBTQ+ community is tight here in Chicago,” said Maliyah Arnold, risk and compliance professional at U.S. Bank. “You see people out at volunteer events, from other organizations, and just from time spent together, those relationships foster connections on their own – like with Center on Halsted.”
Arnold is active in the Chicago LGBTQ+ community – both through her position on the board of Howard Brown and on the mayor’s LGBTQ+ advisory council. As a lifetime recipient of affirming care from Howard Brown, Arnold is committed to making sure these resources are available and accessible to others in the transgender community.
Through the advisory council, she takes an active role in ensuring that the community’s voice is heard in major decisions for the city of Chicago. “The council is one of many that helps our mayor better understand the specific needs of different communities within our city,” said Arnold.
Arnold is leading the council to achieve two specific goals – healthcare equity and violence prevention. “It’s no secret that the trans community faces violence throughout the world,” she said.
This year, U.S. Bank made a $25,000 donation to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Transgender Justice Initiative that will help address the root causes behind that violence by supporting the economic empowerment of the community and creating greater access to pathways to employment through job fairs and training opportunities.
“The trans community absolutely needs more attention among the LGBTQ+ community,” said Ervin Blanco, U.S. Bank district manager. “Working with Maliyah, we’ve learned a ton, and there is always more to learn and grow. The only way to do that is how we’re showing up – by investing money, time and effort into the cause.”
Arnold herself shared her story about coming out, and transitioning to her gender, at work. “There is such an incredible sense of identity that comes with starting a career,” she wrote at the time. “It becomes an integral part of who we are and is displayed as a badge of honor when we identify with others in the world. I am proud that I’ve had the opportunity to begin my career at an institution that truly celebrates and encourages diversity in the workplace.
I’m proud ... to begin my career at an institution that truly celebrates and encourages diversity.
Arnold added that a key reason her experience was positive was the respect she felt from her colleagues, including those she met through her role serving on the board of our Spectrum business resource group. The BRG, which has been recognized as one of the top in the country, helps educate employees about issues pertinent to the LGBTQ+ community so that employees can understand one another, and their LGBTQ+ customers and community partners, better – and so those who identify as LGBTQ+ can connect and share their experiences.
The Chicago chapter was launched after Jose Galarza, relationship manager, saw the need for connecting more deeply to the LGBTQ+ community. With the support of U.S. Bank community affairs manager and LGBTQ+ ally JeNyce Boolton, Galarza organized our first entry into Chicago Pridefest. “I got to a stage of my life where I thought we should be doing more to help out,” said Galarza. “As a group, we had a lot of people who felt the same way.”
Galarza, Arnold, Venzor, Blanco, Boolton and many other U.S. Bankers are looking forward to participating in Chicago PrideFest, which was postponed until this fall due to the pandemic. Until then, our new branch – which will be right on the parade route - will be a visible representation of our connection to the local LGBTQ+ community.
“The new branch, and the work U.S. Bank does in the LGBTQ+ community, shows me how important it is to bring our authentic selves to work every day,” said Blanco. “From a diversity, equity and inclusion perspective, U.S. Bank doesn’t just tell you how important it is – we live it, we feel it, we embrace it and we encourage it.”
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