U.S. Bank Foundation distributes $15 million in Opportunity Fund grants

May 02, 2024
Group of people in green shirts
Opportunity Fund grant recipient Lead for America works to help rural communities bridge the digital divide through its American Connection Corps (pictured here at its orientation in Wichita, Kansas).

Fund supports nonprofits like Lead for America, which aims to boost digital connectivity in rural and disconnected areas

The U.S. Bank Foundation recently distributed $15 million in grants from the U.S. Bank Foundation Opportunity Fund* to increase wealth-building opportunities for low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities, including rural and Native American communities and communities of color. 

Two people posing for a picture
ACC AmeriCorps members Brandon and Benj serve with Tech2Elevate in western Pennsylvania, advancing digital literacy in the region.

In the first round of funding, the grants include more than $6.5 million to nonprofit organizations providing small business support, $4 million to organizations focused on affordable housing, nearly $3.5 million to organizations working to increase the availability of and access to homeownership, and $1 million to organizations aiming to increase digital access and enhance economic development in rural and Native American communities. Many of these nonprofits also will receive support in future rounds of funding.

“By working with nonprofits that have deep roots in local communities, the U.S. Bank Foundation Opportunity Fund supports stable housing options, helps new businesses flourish and communities thrive,” said Reba Dominski, chief social responsibility officer at U.S. Bank and president of the U.S. Bank Foundation.

Lead for America (LFA), with a goal to help increase civic leadership capacity and access to digital technology in rural and digitally disconnected communities, is an example of the kind of support the Opportunity Fund strives to provide, recognizing that connected and skilled communities can better leverage opportunities for growth and innovation. The grant will support LFA’s flagship program, the American Connection Corps (ACC), which recruits and trains civic-minded individuals to spend a year in their hometown communities addressing connectivity-related challenges. 

Corps members are embedded within local nonprofits or government agencies in more than 70 communities across 27 states and work hand in hand with each community to help provide the capacity and resources to meet local needs.

“The digital divide is multidimensional and nuanced. It's about more than just gaining access to broadband –it's also about how you're able to translate connectivity into real prosperity for your community,” said ACC Executive Director Taylor Stuckert. “This requires new leadership in a number of sectors – economic development, health, education, agriculture, natural resources, and more – to be both civically capable and digitally fluent, and ACC brings that possibility to life.” 

“By working with nonprofits that have deep roots in local communities, the U.S. Bank Foundation Opportunity Fund supports stable housing options, helps new businesses flourish and communities thrive."

Reba Dominski, chief social responsibility officer at U.S. Bank and president of the U.S. Bank Foundation

ACC members’ work has ranged from supporting grants to secure funds to build the community’s broadband infrastructure, to getting households enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program, to offering digital literacy programs, to helping local businesses become more digitally inclusive. In the past year, ACC members have helped communities advance agricultural tourism and improve agricultural practices through technology, implemented a digital storytelling program that connects rural residents with their neighbors, and coordinated outreach activities that promote data-driven tree conservation, among other activities.

The Opportunity Fund grant allows ACC to maintain and support their corps members, who often are recent college graduates, retirees and students taking a gap year between high school and college. ACC heavily invests in living allowances, benefits and training – beyond the resources it receives from AmeriCorps, with which ACC is affiliated – to successfully recruit and retain a cohort that’s committed to serving the communities that members call home.

“There are a number of barriers to growing national service, and the help of partners like the U.S. Bank Foundation is absolutely critical to helping us break those barriers down,” said Eric Kotin, LFA’s director of strategic initiatives. “Our ability to build a pipeline of homegrown, locally rooted leadership that is representative of the communities we serve is directly correlated to the support of partners like the foundation.”

The U.S. Bank Foundation Opportunity Fund is a five-year, $75 million financial commitment the foundation launched in 2023. It builds upon the foundation’s signature Community Possible grant program, which continues to provide funds to nonprofits, as well as the legacy of U.S. Bank Foundation programs such as the Market Impact Fund and Rebuild and Transform Fund.


*The Opportunity Fund represents a financial commitment of the U.S. Bank Foundation; it is not a traditional equity fund, nor does it represent a form of ownership.

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