On April 24, 2017, Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) announced a total of $350,000 in donations for three local nonprofits intended to help revitalize Columbia, South Carolina neighborhoods through the Wells Fargo NeighborhoodLIFT® program.
The local grant recipients were identified in collaboration with City of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “The best part about these causes is that they impact all generations,” said Mayor Benjamin. “From playgrounds, to job training, to home repairs, these grants will foster economic opportunity and make lives better for so many of our residents. I salute Wells Fargo for their commitment to helping our neighborhoods and families.”
The Wells Fargo Foundation is providing grants to the following Columbia nonprofits:
- Columbia Urban League – $100,000 grant to support the Summer Work Experience Leadership Program (SWELP), which enhances character and leadership skills for youths ages 14-19 as it relates to employability and job training. SWELP helps teens develop critical thinking techniques, teaches a sense of responsibility, and encourages effective, appropriate communication. It also helps to foster strong work ethic and self-esteem. About 400 participants will work 20 hours per week during the program.
- HomeWorks of America, Inc. – $100,000 grant to serve low- and moderate-income homeowners with home repairs that may otherwise be unattainable. HomeWorks will rebuild at least six homes that were damaged in the October 2015 flood, provide safety and sanitation repairs to nearly 100 homes across the state, and provide case management to homeowners in need of meals, transportation and more. Repairs will continue throughout the year, maintaining a continual flow of volunteers.
- Parks and Recreation Foundation – $150,000 grant will be used for two projects:
- An educational initiative to provide people in communities with high unemployment, lack of access to nutritious food, and unfamiliarity with healthy cooking and eating habits with resources and tools for dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as job skills to help participants enter into the culinary field. Programming will include certification for employment upon completion, health and wellness workshops and afterschool sessions focused on gardening and farm-to-table foods. It will also serve as an incubator for entrepreneurs beginning a start-up business, and small businesses requiring a commercial kitchen. Services will benefit approximately 688 families, including adults, senior citizens and children.
- A neighborhood beautification project that includes construction of a new playground in the Fairwold Acres/Harlem Heights neighborhood. The playground will have two sections to foster creative play – an area for kids ages 5 to 12 and another for 2 to 5-year-olds. Upon completion, it will provide a playground for the local elementary school, which does not currently have one, and be a place where children can feel safe.
The grants are funded through Wells Fargo’s NeighborhoodLIFT program that was launched in July 2016 for Columbia-area homebuyers with a $4.1 million commitment by Wells Fargo to boost local homeownership and revitalize neighborhoods. NeighborhoodLIFT created more than 100 homeowners in Richland and Lexington counties by offering homebuyer education plus matching down payment assistance grants up to $7,500. About 250 down payment assistance grants are still available and interested homebuyers may contact NeighborWorks America’s local network member, Origin, or Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Columbia for information about eligibility requirements.
The Wells Fargo NeighborhoodLIFT local initiative grants for Columbia will provide support for economic and workforce development, youth programs and neighborhood beautification.
“Wells Fargo cares about our communities, and we are making these investments to continue the revitalization effort to strengthen Columbia,” said Kathy Heffley, Wells Fargo region president in South Carolina. “These nonprofits are actively leading efforts to help create jobs, foster youth development and much more. We believe these grants will add up to make a big impact.”
NeighborhoodLIFT® program is the single largest corporate philanthropic effort of its kind in Wells Fargo’s history. In collaboration with NeighborWorks America, the Wells Fargo LIFT program has helped create more than 13,250 homeowners in 50 communities since 2012. A video about NeighborhoodLIFT programs is posted on Wells Fargo Stories.