Community Possible: Work

We invest in programs that help small businesses thrive.

Man working in restaurant kitchen photo
Bloom Café in St. Louis, Missouri offers people with disabilities the opportunities to learn important job skills.

Our goal is to empower people to succeed in the workforce and gain greater financial wellness.

Last year:

Work Hard, Play Hard

In 2018 we launched the Work Hard, Play Hard initiative.

Work Hard, Play Hard focuses on providing financial and volunteer support to nonprofit organizations across the country to give young people the opportunity to express their creativity and develop their job skills.

Through this initiative, U.S. Bank contributed$14.7 million to nonprofits,impacting1.6 million people.

In Cincinnati, this came to life through Elementz.

Founded in the early 2000s by teens with a love of hip hop and a desire to create change in their community, this nonprofit gives inner-city youth the opportunity to find their artistic voice through recording, production, poetry and dance programming. To help teens hone skills and prepare for careers, we helped Elementz install two new recording studios with state-of-the-art equipment.

At a ribbon cutting for the studios, 18-year-old Noah Hawes, a member of Elementz, said, “It’s good that Elementz targets the youth, [because] a lot of people want to do creative things but don’t have the means to.”

Kid breakdances photo
Youth celebrate at the grand opening for new recording studios at Elementz in Cincinnati, Ohio.

We also partnered to empower youth in Portland, with dfrntpigeon.

This street apparel brand and social enterprise is owned and operated by nonprofit New Avenues for Youth. Dfrntpigeon provides at-risk and homeless youth with basic needs and gives them an opportunity to learn business skills through creative expression. With our support, dfrntpigeon opened its first event retail space, located in the trendy Pearl District of downtown Portland.

Twenty-one-year-old business manager Anna displayed their latest apparel line in the space’s inviting, antique windows and spoke about the organization’s impact on her life, “I’m endlessly grateful for the opportunities that dfrntpigeon has provided me. Now my main goal is to continue to grow this business so that others can have the same opportunities.”

We supported these organizations and many more through our philanthropic investment to nonprofits that empower youth in Cleveland, Columbus, Denver, Milwaukee, Seattle, Omaha, Boise, Minneapolis/St. Paul and more.

U.S. Bank employees pose photo
A U.S. Bank employees in Portland, Oregon celebrate the opening of the new dfrntpigeon store with business manager Anna.

Financial Education

At U.S. Bank, we view financial education as an investment in our collective future. It is the key to helping our customers and their families unlock their financial opportunities and make their futures possible. That is why we support programs and organizations that educate and empower people in all stages of life.

U.S. Bank employee teaches kids photo
A U.S. Bank employee teaches financial education at the new Junior Achievement BizTown in St. Paul, Minnesota.

We take a One U.S. Bank approach to financial education by leveraging our technology, people and resources to achieve the greatest possible impact. We have platforms like Financial IQ, our online financial education resource hub which provides helpful knowledge, tools and inspiration for all consumers and business owners.

We also offer financial education modules through our Student Union program, and during 2018:

Our employees share their banking expertise with our communities every day.

In 2018, our employees accomplished a lot:

Building a community of entrepreneurs

Financial education is often the key to small business success.

We partner and invest in small businesses like MORTAR based on the shared belief that strong financial capability is a driver to business success for any small business.

Allen Woods is a co-founder of Cincinnati-based MORTAR, an organization that teaches entrepreneurs how to start or expand a business. Woods is also a member of U.S. Bank’s Community Advisory Committee – a group of nonprofit leaders who serve as partners and consultants to our community efforts.

“When we think of bricks, we think of physical spaces – but the mortar is what holds everything together,” said Woods. “For us, [that] is a representation of people. You can have beautiful buildings and great parks but if you don’t have people who care about those things, then it’s difficult to sustain.”

Since its founding in 2014, 175 entrepreneurs have graduated from MORTAR’s nine-week program – a majority of whom are African Americans and/or women. Its alumni now run a wide range of businesses: a platform for neighbors to employ teenagers within their community; an indoor dog park where owners can work out with their dog; a graphic recording service that turns meeting discussion into visual art in real time.

Allen Woods photo
Allen Woods of MORTAR.

I want the legacy of MORTAR to be that we took a risk and told people ‘yes’ who were used to being told ‘no.’ We want to be known as the organization that told people their ideas were possible. And didn’t just give them lip service, but the tools, resources and connections to move forward.

Allen Woods
co-founder of Cincinnati-based MORTAR