A Spring Bank PPP Story

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It’s been over a year since social distancing protocols forced venues to close. While these measures impacted all of us, they had a devastating effect on NYC’s performing arts. Thousands of art venues across all five boroughs were shuttered to keep our city safe.

With performances canceled indefinitely, thousands of jobs disappeared, and opportunities for community-building became scarcer. The loss of ticket sales and philanthropic donations left performing arts venues fighting for survival. So, when the Lehman Center for Performing Arts, The Bronx’s premier concert hall, reached out for support with applying for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan, we jumped at the opportunity to help.

Founded in 1980, the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts celebrates 40 years of bringing culturally diverse music, dance, and affordable theatre performances to residents of The Bronx.

“Right before the pandemic started, we renovated the performance hall in celebration of our fortieth anniversary,” says Eva Bornstein, Executive Director of the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts. “We had special programming scheduled, only to lose our 2019-2020 season and 90 percent of our earned revenue.”

The season’s cancellation caused the loss of jobs for part-time stagehands and ushers, but there were still many permanent staff members to support. That’s where the PPP Loan came in. Our staff helped the Lehman Center secure the funds they needed to cover payroll and insurance for permanent staff members, along with other miscellaneous expenses.

As vaccinations increase, Lehman Center for the Performing Arts plans to reopen this fall. However, it will need a significant influx of funds to rehire the stagehands that make the performances it houses possible. Thankfully, the PPP funds – along with grant sources, will help Lehman Center for the Performing Arts prepare for a fall season.

“Thanks to Spring Bank’s patience and expertise – which you can only get at a community bank – we submitted all of the documents required and survived during this challenging time,” says Eva.

If all goes according to plan, the Lehman Center for Performing Arts will host its first performance for its in-person audience on October 2nd. The headliner will be Andy Montanez, a world-class salsa singer from Puerto Rico. It’s one of many in a long line of multicultural and affordable performances offered by the Lehman Center of the Performing Arts over the last 40 years, earning it the moniker “the Lincoln Center of the Bronx.”

You can find out how the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts earned that title by visiting their website and watching some of their past performances. You can support their invaluable work by donating here. Take a behind-the-scenes look at our work with the Lehman Center by reading our staff profile on Xavier Givens, who was instrumental in helping them secure a PPP loan. Learn more about our support for NYC arts here.

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When the pandemic first hit, we all went into information overdrive. Information about the coronavirus’s severity and health protocols was changing by the minute; it was overwhelming. Having clear and accurate information about COVID-19 and our response to it was a matter of life and death – especially for direct service providers. But, thanks to The Bronx Health and Housing Consortium, over 60 hospitals, health homes, community-based organizations, managed care plans, and government agencies got rapid access to the information they needed to serve the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

“After a decade of fostering deep relationships in The Bronx, we knew we had a unique role to play in bridging the gap between government agencies and frontline workers,” says Bonnie Mohan, Executive Director of The Bronx Health and Housing Consortium. “We began organizing virtual townhalls where medical experts were able to speak to our member organizations, so they could better support our borough as it confronts a multitude of crises at the intersection of the sectors we exist to serve.”

Getting everyone together – and on such short notice – was no easy matter, but it’s what The Bronx Health and Housing Consortium does best. Started in 2011 and incorporated as a 501-c-3 in 2017, they have brought together organizations in the health, housing, and homelessness sectors to improve healthcare systems for the most disadvantaged New Yorkers.

“We started doing this work before we ever had a way to pay for it,” says Bonnie Mohan. “It was a passion project for us, and we are proud to see the impact our work has had on The Bronx and beyond.”

In addition to organizing town halls, The Bronx Health and Housing Consortium carries out the only hospital homeless census that provides crucial data about the number of homeless people seeking care or shelter in New York City emergency departments. They recently launched a newsletter that includes news, resources, and funding opportunities to its member organizations.

Equitably disseminating information and bringing people together to work on shared challenges is invaluable; that’s why we decided to recognize their work with a $10,000 Small Business Recovery Grant sponsored by the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that nonprofits are a lifeline for our communities in times of crisis. Unfortunately, their vital work is too often uncompensated. With our Small Business Recovery Grant, we wanted to honor The Bronx Health and Housing Consortium’s efforts. It was the least we could do.

“2020 was a hard year for us,” says Bonnie Mohan. “The pandemic made us lose crucial funding sources while also making our work more demanding. Spring Bank’s flexible grant will allow us to be responsive to the needs of our community.”

“Because of this grant, we can carry out an eviction training moratorium that will help our community address the incoming housing crisis,” she continues. “We could not be more grateful for Spring Bank’s support and partnership.”

Supporting nonprofits is a part of our core mission as a community-based and community-informed bank. To learn more about how we can assist your nonprofit organization, check out our blog on nonprofit lending. You can also learn more about the Small Business Recovery Grant Program and the nine other nonprofits we supported here.

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We are more than a local bank: we are a Community Development Financial Institution or CDFI. CDFIs work to create wealth-building opportunities for economically distressed communities across the United States. But to carry out our work, we need access to affordable capital that we can lend in our communities. That’s where The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York (FHLBNY) comes in.

Founded at the height of the Great Depression, the FHLBNY is part of a national network of 11 Federal Home Loan Banks that exist to advance housing and community development. With over 6,800 member institutions that range from commercial banks to credit unions to insurance companies, Federal Home Loan Banks give their members a flexible credit liquidity source to grow and prosper. We are proud to be members of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York that has supported our work as a CDFI.

“CDFIs help underbanked communities secure home mortgages and other forms of lending,” explains Michael A. Beifeld, First Officer Relationship Manager of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. “As a financial institution that exists to support housing opportunities and community development, we knew that partnering with CDFIs was a no-brainer. That’s why we have accepted them as members since 2010.”

When the pandemic hit, it became clear that it had a disproportionate impact on low-wealth majority-minority communities. CDFIs stepped up to provide crucial financial support in their communities. And the government noticed. In the latest two COVID-19 relief bills, Congress set aside over $20 billion in funding for CDFIs and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) to help the most negatively impacted communities recover from this crisis.

Throughout the pandemic, we have gone out of our way to support small businesses and nonprofits. We prioritized them because we know they are pillars in our communities, despite being ignored by larger financial institutions. Just in 2020, we secured PPP Loans for 53 nonprofits valued at $35 million. Like us, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York recognized the challenges faced by nonprofits.

“Nonprofits typically only have three months to raise money via galas and events,” says Mr. Beifeld. “Because of COVID-19, many nonprofits could not raise money to carry out their most basic functions. Seeing the need that there was, we established grant programs for nonprofits.”

We are proud to have taken part in one of those programs: The Small Business Grant Recovery Program. The Small Business Grant Recovery Program offers participating members up to $100,000 in funds to allocate to their small business and nonprofit partners as grants.  In line with our work as a CDFI, we were able to secure a $100,000 grant, allocating $10,000 each, for ten of our nonprofit neighbors.

To learn more about our involvement with the Small Business Recovery Grant Program and the nonprofits we supported, check out our article on it here. You can also read more about CDFIs and their impact on our blog.

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As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), supporting nonprofits and small businesses is fundamental to our mission. One of the ways we prioritize community-based organizations is through our membership in the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York (FHLBNY). The FHBLNY helps community lenders like us in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands by advancing housing and community growth.

Investing in small business and nonprofit sectors is one key to maintaining financially healthy communities. However, the pandemic and the economic fallout have threatened the survival of countless small businesses and nonprofits that do not have access to affordable credit and cash reserves. So, when we heard that the FHLBNY was offering a Small Business Grant Recovery Program, we immediately signed up!

The Small Business Grant Recovery Program provided participating member banks funds to allocate $10,000 grants to 10 small business and/or nonprofit partners. Beneficiaries needed to demonstrate a decrease in revenue because of COVID-19. Knowing how dramatically the pandemic impacted NYC nonprofits, we reached out to 10 organizations that have inspired us. The grantees are:

Arete Education


Bronx River Alliance

The Bronx Museum of the Arts

Custom Collaborative

The Greyston Foundation

The Health and Housing Consortium

Hester Street

Rocking the Boat

Mary Mitchell Family & Youth Center

These nonprofits have wide-ranging missions that include: the arts, financial empowerment, housing, and the environment. For example, Brooklyn-based Arete Living Arts creates artwork that inspires personal, political, or spiritual awakenings. Rocking the Boat, a South Bronx-based nonprofit offers, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) education programs for 200 teenagers a year. We are inspired by the work of all the Small Business Grant Recovery recipients and encourage you to stay tuned as we feature them on our blog over the next several months.

To learn more about our mission to support nonprofits, you can read our 2020 Reflection. Learn more about Ariva, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Custom Collaborative. You can also read about our free nonprofit checking accounts and how we can support your organization.

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A Small Business PPP Story

New York City has long been known as a national and international artistic beacon. While the numerous theatres, museums, concert halls, and galleries are the lifeblood of our city, there are also, behind the scenes, hundreds of small businesses that help make our city’s arts scene the best in the world. Chelsea Restoration Associates Inc. is one of those small businesses whose work you may have seen without even knowing it.

Founded in 2004 by John Powell and Amy Sokoloff, Chelsea Restoration is one of New York City’s premier art restoration and conservation studios. They restore and preserve fine paintings that are exhibited in our city’s finest museums, galleries, and dealerships–and they do it from right here in the Bronx!

“It doesn’t matter if the work of art is a family heirloom or something you bought at the flea market, we will restore it,” explains Amy. “We work on paintings that range from $100 to $20 million.”

When COVID-19 hit, the arts were devastated. Without the ability to open venues, artists and the organizations that support them were forced to adapt to a new reality. We are proud to have helped Chelsea Restoration­ during this challenging moment for our city’s arts community with a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.

“I am extremely thankful to Spring Bank,” says John. “When the pandemic began, our business flatlined. We did not know how we were going to get through it. But then Spring Bank came along, and they answered all of our calls and emails. Whatever we needed, they were there. Thanks to them, we secured two rounds of PPP funding.”

Before coming to us, Chelsea Restoration tried to get assistance from a large financial institution but was ignored. Small businesses often are. But not with us. As a community bank, we exist to provide personalized and affordable services to all individuals, small businesses and nonprofits.

“We knew that adapting to the pandemic was going to be difficult because so much of our work cannot be done remotely,” says Amy. “But the PPP loan gave us the time to do that. We pivoted to host client consultations and meetings virtually which allowed us to continue our work safely.”

“But it went beyond that,” she continues. “Securing the PPP loan gave us the flexibility to automate a lot of our business processes. Rather than managing our inventory and payroll manually, we can now do it automatically. The benefits will outlast the pandemic because we’ll be able to serve more clients.”

And now, Chelsea Restoration can rehire and employ more people.

“Before the pandemic started, we hired an NYU intern who moved home because of the lockdowns,” says John. “The PPP loan enabled us to hire her back; it prevented one less artist from leaving New York City.”

We know the arts are what make New York City so vibrant and unique. We are proud to have helped when the pandemic disproportionately impacted this vital industry. If you are interested in learning more about how we support the arts, check out our work with the Bronx Museum of the Arts. You can also read more about our PPP lending work here.

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March 2021 marks one year of living in times of COVID-19, changing our city and our world as we knew it. It is also B Corp month—and our 5th B Corp anniversary! Certified B Corporations believe business can and should be a force for good.

As mission-driven businesses, B Corporations work to leverage their income to prioritize people and the planet, striving for a more inclusive economy that works for everyone. B Corps actively look to “benefit” the Earth and leave our communities better due to our presence. We’ve been values-aligned with the movement since we opened our doors.

“Being a B Corp aligns with our ideals and helps us to become the best version of ourselves as a company,” says Demetris Giannoulias, our CEO. “The B Corp model allows values of community, inclusion, and environmental integrity to infuse our culture strategically and explicitly.”

We joined the B Corp movement in 2016 as the first B Corp bank in New York City. Here are four reasons why being part of the B Corp movement is even more critical at this moment:

  1. Equal Access to Capital is more important than ever: COVID-19 has dramatically underscored New York City’s wealth gap. Our job is to provide residents and small business owners with direct and easy access to the banking system, and that this is a critical step in addressing the wealth gap. Bronx residents, for example, are the most unbanked and underbanked citizens in New York City. While many banks continue to leave the South Bronx, we remain committed to our neighbors’ financial inclusion. We aren’t going anywhere.
  2. A Culture of Innovation for Good: We continually adapt our innovative depository and affordable loan products to help individuals in our community avoid getting trapped in cycles of debt and predatory lending. But we also recognize that no community exists in a vacuum. Many B Corps, including Eileen Fisher, UnCommon Goods, Greyston Bakery, Crave Fishbar, and Pisticci Restaurant, have worked with us to develop our small-dollar, credit-building Employee Opportunity Loan to support their teams’ financial health.
  3. A Small Business & Nonprofit Priority: We prioritize the lending and banking needs of small businesses and nonprofits across New York City. When big banks turned them away, we welcomed them, deploying $88M in 361 loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). And we offer tailored products for community-based organizations like our maintenance-free Nonprofit Checking account.
  4. A Community of Accountability: One of the best parts of the last five years is the people we have met and worked with within the B Corp community. We learned about the importance of our carbon footprint and took the journey to becoming carbon neutral. We took part in the Inclusive Economy challenge and started our anti-racism journey. We are grateful to be part of a business network that calls one another forward into deeper impact.

This B Corp month, we celebrate five years in the movement, proud to be a triple bottom line bank. And we think there is a lot more room for other NYC banks to join!

“I believe in B Corps and think other banks should join the movement and become a B Corp,” says Demetris. “The more we work together, the better shot we have at changing the financial industry for the better from within.”

Thank you for being part of this journey with us. To learn more, check out our stories about our work with fellow B Corps Eileen Fisher Inc and UnCommon Goods. Find out more about our decision to go carbon neutral here. Celebrate B Corp Month and put your values into action by opening a personal checking account or personal savings account with us today.

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“We believe every community has to drive its version of success,” says Roman Jackson, Vice President of JobsFirstNYC. “In The Bronx, we’ve partnered with key stakeholders like Spring Bank to make sure the community is heard and writes its own story.”

Most recently, we’ve worked together to address the rezoning of the Jerome Avenue Corridor. The Jerome Avenue Corridor is currently undergoing the most extensive rezoning in New York City’s history, spanning 93 blocks and impacting 93,000 residents. While typically implemented to spur economic development, rezoning also needs to account for more vulnerable community members’ needs. With high unemployment and poverty rates along the Jerome Avenue Corridor, some community members could get left behind–without advocacy.

JobsFirstNYC is hard at work to make sure this doesn’t happen. By fostering partnerships between residents, employers, and workers, JobsFirstNYC spearheaded the Jerome Avenue Revitalization Collaborative or JARC. Made up of 60 members, JARC is working to ensure that small businesses and community members can collectively leverage new and existing opportunities resulting from the rezoning. Through it all, JobsFirstNYC has never lost sight of its goal to expand access to opportunity.

“At JobsFirstNYC, says Roman Jackson, “community projects are vital to our practice. We recognize that for JobsFirstNYC to advocate for systems to change, we need to start at the community level. JARC is a key part of that practice in the Bronx.”

Although founded to address the rezoning, JARC also supports the Jerome Avenue community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately impacted the Bronx, with only 2 percent of the Payment Protection Program funding that went to New York City going to the Bronx. We are working with JARC to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Together, we want to ensure that Bronx businesses have access to the funds they need to stay afloat, now and always.  We are proud to work with JobsFirstNYC to ensure that the Bronx is a place where all people can reach their full potential.

Learn more about JARC  here. Read about our PPP Lending program here.

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Throughout the pandemic, we have helped dozens of small businesses and organizations across New York City acquire loans to keep their doors open. But you don’t have to wait until the next emergency to build a relationship with us–your local community bank. You can secure the future of your small business now by opening a business checking account with us today.

When you bank with us, we get to know you; we seek to understand your needs and aspirations. Every day we see how small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Across New York City, small businesses maintain the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of working families. But we also know that for a small business, success is not only measured in profits. Having a business checking account with us will give you firsthand access to our personalized approach. We’ll help you secure the funds you may not have access to from a traditional financial institution. And when the next crisis hits, we’ll do our best to help you secure the funds you need to keep your doors open and your employees on the books.

Our business checking account features make it easy for you to get your money when you want it and when you need it. When you open a business checking account with us, you can access free ATMs in the MoneyPass network and Citibank branches. You also have 24/7 access to your money from wherever you are with our mobile app and online banking options. You can even open a business account online. It’s convenient, and it’s safe. And if you run into any issues, give our team a call. With us, you’re never a number; you’re our neighbor.

Our zero-maintenance fee business checking account helps you avoid the time and money you would lose addressing surprise costs associated with your business checking account at a larger financial institution. When you bank with a community bank like us, you’re our priority. Our business checking account puts the community in a community bank. We give you the space to focus on what matters, managing your business and making an impact on your neighborhood. Merely putting your hard-earned money in our business checking account, you are giving back to your community.

When you bank with us, your money is invested locally, contributing to your community’s economic growth by helping other small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals get access to the loans they need. If you would like to support our mission in other ways, you can open a personal checking account or personal savings account today. We’d love to have you.  Read more about our work with small businesses here.

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Having a bank account­– whether it’s a business checking account or a personal savings account­–is critical to maintaining a healthy financial life. The economic downturn combined with the health crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a reminder of the importance of having financial and physical health. With our remote banking feature, you don’t have to make that choice.

Your health and safety are our top priority. Whether it’s over the phone, online, or through our mobile app, you can access our financial products from wherever you are. While we must reduce our social interactions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with our expanded remote banking features, you don’t have to delay making important financial decisions or getting access to the money you need.

Remotely accessing your personal checking account can help make this difficult time easier. As Tax Day approaches and Congress prepares to issue another round of stimulus checks, having a bank account can help you get quicker and safer access to the economic relief you need. Checks can get lost and can take weeks to arrive. When managing money is essential, using direct deposit and our remote banking features can help you pay for ongoing expenses and save for the future.

One of our biggest priorities is encouraging our community members to increase their personal savings to become financially independent. When you can open a bank account or access our services from wherever you are, you save on transportation expenses. Additionally, you don’t have to take time off work to start building wealth and reaching your financial goals. Our built-in flexibility is designed to meet you where you are and to help you attend to financial matters instantly.

Whether it’s in person or remote, our banking staff is personable and experienced. Once we activate your account, you can deposit checks securely from your phone or tablet while on the move or from the comfort of your own home.

Businesses can deposit up to $5,000, and individual customers can deposit up to $1,000. If you would like to increase your deposit limits, don’t hesitate to ask us. In addition to ATMs in the Moneypass network, via our partnership with Citibank, Spring Bank clients can use any ATM within a Citibank branch for free. Regardless of where you live, know that we have something for you.

We are providing services and products that meet all of our customers’ needs. Whether it be online or on the phone, know that we are here for you. Call or download our app. We’ll help you apply for a personal loan or open a new business bank account. We have one of the best savings account online. Find out how we can help you today!

A Recent Feature of Josefa Ruiz, our Branch Manager, in Independent Banker.

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We take great pride in being headquartered in a city built and powered by immigrants. Nearly 40 percent of New York City’s residents are foreign-born. Immigrants not only power our city’s economy, and they are the lifeblood of our city’s culture and dynamism. From the food we eat to the music we listen to, immigrant contributions are everywhere we look. And yet–despite their indelible imprint on our city– many immigrants have a hard time accessing the financial tools essential to building wealth and sustaining thriving committees.

Typically, when immigrants come to the United States, they are brand new to the American financial system, making it difficult for immigrants to open bank accounts, apply for loans, or rent apartments. These barriers often prevent immigrants from accessing the services they need to make this country home. As a bank with many immigrant neighbors and staff, we are doing our best to shift this narrative.

This month, Josefa Ruiz, our Branch Manager, was featured—alongside Carlos Herrera, a customer, and owner of 2300 Deli Corp–in an article by Independent Banker, “How Community Banks Serve Immigrants.”

“Community banks like us provide a lot of value to immigrant communities,” she says. “Unlike larger financial institutions, we take a chance on them. We see the value in them and their contributions, and we act on it.”

We are proud to offer services tailored to the needs of immigrant New Yorkers. We accept IDNYC– a free-government-issued photo I.D. card available to all New York City residents, regardless of their immigration status–to open a bank account or apply for a personal loan. We also offer a credit-builder loan that helps accountholders establish a U.S. credit history.

Not only are our products immigrant inclusive; our staff is too. Both our Bronx and Harlem branches serve many Spanish speakers. That’s why all of our frontline staff speaks Spanish, and our marketing materials appear in both Spanish and English. We do our best to make space for everyone. It’s the New York City way.

“At Spring Bank, clients are not numbers. Here, I can dedicate my time to addressing the needs of each client. I can support them. At big banks, you are expected to produce, produce, which often means that money rather than people become the priority. But not at Spring Bank. Our clients are our priority, no matter where they are from,” says Josefa.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our immigrant communities hard. Many of our foreign-born neighbors work essential jobs, don’t qualify for government assistance, and are uninsured. The pandemic reminds us of immigrants’ importance and contributions, and we want to pay it forward. Read more from Josefa in the Independent Banker feature and look for a small business story soon featuring Carlos and 2300 Deli Corp.