by Emily Adams Keplinger
Students in the Department of Architecture at the University of Memphis are accustomed to making site visits and sketching their ideas for building plans. But last summer they used their talents to construct much more than a proposed building — they helped to build a better neighborhood.
For the last two years, undergraduate and graduate students have been joined by faculty from the university’s Architecture Department to work with the Carpenter Art Garden in Binghampton, established “to promote individuals’ creative potential and self worth, through exposure to artistic, educational and vocational programs.” The group of 16 students was led by university faculty Michael Hagge, chairman of the Department of Architecture, and Sherry Bryan, director of architecture and director of graduate studies in architecture. The goal has been to design projects based on the art garden’s needs.
by Emily Adams Kepplinger
There’s a growing awareness of the benefits of partnerships between nonprofit and for-profit businesses. But, to make it work, nonprofits must go beyond fundraising and align their impact with the business objective of for-profit partners. In turn, for-profit businesses are often able to increase their sales and services, as well as employee engagement. And both types of organizations benefit from being recognized for the good they’ve created through collaboration.
“At SunTrust, we know that when we build our communities, we build our bank,” says Brian Bills, senior vice president of SunTrust Mortgage Inc. “The partnerships we have with local organizations help us deliver on our purpose of Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being while strengthening and supporting the communities we serve. It’s also the reason we just launched a national movement — called ‘onUp’ — to help everyone take steps toward financial confidence.”
SunTrust is deeply committed to the continued support of our communities through lending, investments, and services. As such, SunTrust Mortgage recently donated $100,000 to United Housing, Inc. (UHI), a local nonprofit affordable housing agency that serves the City of Memphis, Shelby County, and West Tennessee.
“We believe that philanthropy is essential to building and sustaining our communities,” says Bills. “Our mission to help people and institutions prosper demonstrates the importance of philanthropy to our business. At SunTrust, we take a keen interest in partnering with local organizations to strengthen and support the communities we serve.”
SunTrust’s community development impact involves helping people and businesses and targeted economic development. These endeavors have a component focused on financing housing, whether through loans to low-to-moderate-income families to purchase or rehabilitate their homes, affordable housing for seniors, or making grants to local and regional organizations that provide affordable housing.
UHI targets its services to families that are under-served by the traditional homeownership industry. The “brand fit” with SunTrust was readily apparent for their shared clients.
“We have a shared interest in building stronger communities in Memphis and United Housing’s engagement in local neighborhoods is outstanding,” says Bills. “The $100,000 check we presented the organization will be used to support sustainable homeownership for the residents of the City of Memphis, Shelby County, and West Tennessee.”
“UHI has been in business for over 20 years and our relationships with lenders in the housing industry are really critical to our ability to assist the people we work with who are trying to become homeowners,” adds Tim Bolding, UHI executive director. “This kind of financial support from our local lenders is really important for UHI to be able to successfully achieve its mission.
“We have found that people in Memphis are really in need of help to learn how to manage their money, to learn the lending process, and to understand how to be a successful homeowner. UHI has helped over 4,000 families become homeowners or save their homes from foreclosure. This investment from SunTrust will provide general support for UHI’s counseling/homebuyer education and lending efforts.”
When asked if there is any anticipated follow-up from their financial donation, Bills replies, “Yes. Our team at SunTrust has met with Tim Bolding to continue discussions on how our two organizations can work together to help Memphians with their housing and financial needs. There will be much more to come on that.”
Emily Adams Keplinger is a longtime journalist who covers area nonprofits. To learn more about this collaboration, visit uhinc.org or SunTrust.com.
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