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Member Spotlight: Bank of the West

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


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Corneil Montgomery, Vice President and Senior Regional Officer of Corporate Social Responsibility at member Bank of the West, discusses with SCG the Bank's corporate giving.

Tell us about Bank of the West CSR/philanthropy goals. What programs are exciting for you right now?  What are the main corporate giving focus areas for your company? Is there anything specific you would like to spotlight?

At Bank of the West, we’re investing in areas where we feel we can make the most impact, such as supporting programs for sustainable energy; advancing women and diverse entrepreneurs; helping young people find opportunities for economic well-being; and contributing to sustainable communities. I’m happy to share a few 2018 highlights:

  • The bank announced a $1 billion commitment to finance clean, efficient and renewable energy as part of a multi-year effort to support a sustainable energy future.
  • We recently launched We Source, a resource for women entrepreneurs. This free, public, online tool is designed to help aspiring business owners connect to resources they need to start, grow, and successfully manage their businesses.  
  • Bank of the West recognized Los Angeles Clean Tech Incubator (LACI) with its 2018 Philanthropy Award. The award comes with a $100,000 grant which LACI will direct toward integrating women entrepreneurs and underrepresented groups into the cleantech sector through access to capital, support within its world-class incubator, and workforce development programs.

What are some of your recent success stories? (program/campaign/event/stories from a person or population you serve)

Here in Southern California, the bank partners with Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) Southern California to support their BankWork$ program. Through this partnership, we prepare job seekers for entry- to mid-level banker opportunities in the financial services industry. Since 2016, we’ve employed nearly 40 BankWork$ graduates in Southern California. A Bank of the West team member and BankWork$ graduate said, “I was experiencing a significant financial crisis; BankWork$ found me and Bank of the West gave me a second chance to achieve my career goals and create better livelihood for my family. Within one year, I was promoted. I continue to enjoy my experience at bank.”

What inspires you:  What does being a community leader mean personally to you? 

My personal perspective on being a community leader means:

  • actively understanding the issues and concerns most important to our community members and stakeholders.
  • operating as an agent of change by sharing my skills and expertise to solve social issues and generate optimal community impact.
  • building strategic partnerships across sectors, organizations and with individuals, so that together we are creating solutions that benefit the communities we serve.
  • providing the field and stakeholders with promising and best practices tools, resources, and models

Thoughts on best practice:  What is something your organization/ you learned during your time in this role that you think others might find helpful?

In 2016, the bank launched its Community Ambassador Program. Through this program, a Bank of the West team member is embedded full-time within a nonprofit for one year. This is a terrific opportunity for an employee to advance their leadership, learn new skills, and experience a new industry and working environment.And, for the bank and the CSR Department, we’re taking cross-sector collaboration to new heights with knowledge sharing, community networks, and professional skills. We’ve also gained deeper insights on ways we can be better corporate partners for social impact.

How has the SCG community helped you advance your work?

Our partnership with SCG is vital for staying on top of community development trends and best practices in philanthropy, grant making, and social impact investing. SCG’s incredible network of organizations and experts is a wonderful ecosystem of collaboration, research, public policy, and outreach. Additionally, through SCG, I’ve been able to highlight our bank’s impact stories and learn of other industry successes from my peers.

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