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A 2020 Letter of Reflection & Gratitude

When we first headquartered in the Bronx, our mission was clear: to create a world where all people have equal access and opportunity to build prosperous futures. Fifteen years later, amidst a global pandemic and focus on racial justice, our mission and banking approach is more relevant than ever.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our city and unleashed dual health and economic crises, we saw our community’s needs, and we got to work. All year, our team worked tirelessly to address our community’s financial needs. Our efforts would not have been possible if it weren’t for our incredible staff, our community, and small business partners, our B-Corp community, and most of all, you.

Thank you for being a part of our community.

2020 Reflections
To say that 2020 has been a tough year is an understatement. We know many of you have faced challenges you never expected. Us too. But thankfully, we have one another. This year has shown us why our work—and that of community banks and CDFI’s are so important for low-income communities, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations that are too often overlooked by financial institutions. We prioritize our neighbors.

After the CARES Act passed in April of this year, our lending team got to work to assist organizations with their applications for a Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan.

We take great pride in having secured 360 PPP loans–valued at $86.8 million–for small businesses and nonprofits in the New York City area. With these funds, organizations retained over thousands of jobs. In total, we secured PPP loans for 53 nonprofits valued at $35 million, funding that they otherwise may not have received if they had looked to a larger bank.

For example, we secured financial relief for Ultranauts, a company that mainly employs autistic workers for jobs in the technology sector. We supported The Forward, one of New York’s oldest Jewish media publications, and many others. Our lending team worked hard to make sure that value-aligned small businesses and community-based organizations could not only stay afloat but continue to support the needs of their communities, too.

In addition to our PPP lending program, we partnered with Eileen Fisher Inc., a fellow B Corp, to help them provide relief for their furloughed employees at the height of the lockdown. We customized our Employee Opportunity Loan program to meet their specific needs, which allowed them to act quickly to stay present.

In these uncertain times, we remain committed to New York City’s financial inclusion—and your financial health. We are humbled by the outpouring of support and gratitude from our community, and we draw so much inspiration from your ingenuity, hard work, and resilience. In this season of reflection and generosity, we want to extend one more heartfelt thank you. Together, we will continue to make New York City the best city in the world.

Check out the article about Ultranauts in The New York Times. Read about our work with organizations like Callen Lorde Community CenterGrand Street Settlement, and The Forward. Read more about our PPP lending program.

Thank you for your partnership and business. We wish you a very happy and healthy 2021!

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We are committed to a world where all people have equal access and opportunity to build prosperous futures. And when we say all people, we mean everyone, even those who don’t bank with us.

As the climate crisis causes temperatures to rise and extreme weather becomes more common, the impacts will affect everyone.  Financial institutions that finance fossil fuels bear immense responsibility. Did you know that the four largest banks in the United States poured more than $210 billion into fossil fuel projects in 2019 alone? That’s why—as a carbon-neutral, B Corp community bank, we immediately said yes to the invitation to join a national movement of banks who recognize together their responsibility to address the climate crisis. You can feel secure with us and with any member of the Bank for Good campaign, that your money is a solution, not a contributor to the climate crisis and will not be invested in fossil fuels.

We view our commitment to climate justice as a racial justice issue, as underserved communities of color, communities like those we serve, are disproportionately impacted. The Bank for Good campaign was our opportunity to join with like-minded financial institutions to create a new narrative for banking that aligns with our values.

Paul Philips, District Manager of Community Board 4–the neighborhood of our headquarters in The Bronx– recognizes how banks can be a tool for good.  Ninety-six percent of the people in Community Board 4 are minorities, and the average income is $29,000 a year.  And as a result of COVID-19, he has witnessed long lines of people waiting outside check cashiers to get the money they need to pay for existing expenses.

“Now more than ever, we need financial institutions like Spring Bank,” says Paul Philips. “We need local banks that serve low-income minority communities, especially small businesses.”

According to Paul Philips, only 2 percent of small businesses in The Bronx received any federal PPP lending dollars via the CARES Act due to COVID-19. He believes this is precisely why community banks are essential to building a financially inclusive society.

“Banks that are rooted in the community are so important; they will actually advocate on behalf of communities of color,” says Paul Philips.

As one of the few community banks in The Bronx, New York, we are proud to support small businesses and communities of color as we Bank for Good. Learn more by reading about our commitment to our community during COVID-19.

Ready to join us in the movement to Bank for Good? Move your money with us and open a Green Checking Account or apply for a personal loan today! We can help your small business grow by opening a business checking account. And you can feel good about your role in ending the climate crisis, knowing your hard-earned dollars are invested locally, right back into the best city in the world. Read more about the Bank for Good campaign.

Photo Credit: Ultranauts, NY Times

As a mission-driven, community-based bank, we prioritize our neighbors and the unique financial needs of the Bronx and Harlem. Since the day we opened our doors in the South Bronx over thirteen years ago, we have been grateful for the partnership of many small businesses and values-aligned organizations, including some of New York City’s oldest and most reputable nonprofits.

When COVID-19 hit, we responded by supporting our small business and nonprofit partners when they needed it most. Hours after the CARES Act passed in April of this year, our lending team got to work to assist organizations with their applications for a Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan.

We are proud to report that as of this month, we secured 360 PPP loans–valued at $86.8 million–for small businesses and nonprofits in the New York City area.  With these funds, organizations retained over 5,000 jobs.

 At the height of the lockdown, we helped Callen Lorde Community Center– a primary care center dedicated to serving the LGBTQ and homeless communities–secure a PPP loan that allowed them to continue their critical work on the frontlines of New York City’s battle against COVID-19. Our partnership helped them retain 80 of their employees, all while running a temporary hospital out of a hotel in Queens.

Additionally, our lending team supported other major nonprofits organizations like Grand Street Settlement–a social services agency that helps thousands of New Yorkers–and The Forward–one of New York’s oldest Jewish media publications. In total, we secured PPP loans for 53 nonprofits valued at $35 million, funding that they otherwise may not have received if they had gone to a larger bank.

But we didn’t stop there. We also partnered with values-aligned companies that are revolutionizing the business world. We take particular satisfaction in our work with Ultranauts, a company that mainly employ autistic workers for technology jobs.

With 75 percent of its workforce on the autistic spectrum, Ultranauts uses a unique set of operational policies and practices. Recently featured in The New York Times, their remote work model and unique accommodations have become a model for businesses looking to foster inclusion. And yet, pivoting to 100 percent remote working could not shield them from the economic downturn caused by the global pandemic. Ultranauts lost business as their clients made cuts to cope with the impact. To cover these unexpected costs, they partnered with us to secure a PPP loan that allowed them to adapt to the changing market, and soon, they were flourishing once again. Ultranaut acquired new clients and has plans to expand its workforce from 90 to 200 employees in the next two years.

We are proud to support organizations that, like us, are working to build an economy that includes and nurtures every individual’s talents. We are proud to help small businesses and nonprofits continue their work during this historic time.

If your small business or nonprofit requires financial support during this time, we can help you secure a lending option that best suits your organization. Do not hesitate to contact us at 718-879-5000. And we can set up a small business checking account or a nonprofit checking account so that you keep your money local, investing in communities in New York City that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out the article about Ultranauts in The New York Times. Read about our work with Callen Lorde Community Center, Grand Street Settlement, and The Forward. Open a small business checking account today.

As a mission-driven, community-based bank, we prioritize our neighbors and the unique financial needs of the Bronx and Harlem. Since the day we opened our doors in the Bronx over thirteen years ago, we have been grateful for the partnership of many values-aligned organizations, including some of New York City’s oldest and most distinguished nonprofits. So when COVID-19 hit our city, we had the privilege of supporting many of our nonprofit partners when they needed it most.

We are here to offer the same personalized service to your organization. Our nonprofit program provides free checking accounts with customized services that will help you support your mission. With remote deposit capture, you can take advantage of our cost savings and benefits without leaving your home. You can also use our online banking service, which gives you the ability to manage money online for your organization with your mobile device or computer. You receive all of these easy-to-use banking tools for your organization without having to pay maintenance fees!

Our maintenance-free, nonprofit checking account option is a part of our broader mission to help nonprofits launch and grow. On top of offering nonprofits free checking accounts, we also have a specialized nonprofit lending program. And we love to showcase the great stories and impact of our nonprofit partners as we believe our collective impact is a crucial part of rebuilding an economy that includes all of us.

Open a nonprofit checking account online today or contact us at 718-879-5000 for more information. We also invite you to read about how our nonprofit services have helped local organizations like DreamYard and The Hope Program.

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At Spring Bank–the first B Corp Bank in New York State–we provide products and services for businesses that help them grow while supporting their employees and communities.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend lives and livelihoods, our commitment to financial and community empowerment is stronger than ever. Keeping this in mind, New York City Businesses and Nonprofits can make this difficult time a little bit easier for employees through our Employee Opportunity Loan Program.

In June, we partnered with fellow New York B Corp,  Eileen Fisher Inc., and the Eileen Fisher Foundation, to customize our EOL program and, with the support of the foundation, to offer a financial helping hand to their employees who were furloughed at the start of the shut-down.

Our Employee Opportunity Loan Program provides access to capital and free financial counseling to help employers better support their employees in this unprecedented moment. Participating employers facilitate access to a small-dollar loan to bridge immediate gaps in cashflow while assisting them in building personal savings and credit for the future.

Employees can get small loans with no minimum credit score requirements and built-in saving and credit-building features. But it’s not just about helping individuals apply for a personal loan; we want to give them the tools for durable financial health.

Employees also have access to free financial counseling with our partners at Neighborhood Trust. Together with their financial counselors, employees can develop a plan to decrease their debt, increase their savings, improve their credit score, and work towards long-term goals.

To learn more about how you can support the financial health of your employees, read about our Employee Opportunity Loan Program. You can also read how we created the program with the Eileen Fisher Foundation on our blog. And stay tuned for our upcoming stories on some of the hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits we supported with PPP loans.

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Last year we announced that we became carbon neutral! With the support of fellow B Corp, Carbon Credit Capital, we worked to offset our carbon outputs. Today—we are prouder than ever to support small businesses in the green and sustainability space, like cleantech startup, Conamix. Conamix was one of Spring Bank’s earliest recipients of a PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan.

Located in Ithaca, New York, Conamix develops cobalt-free materials for lithium-ion batteries used to power clean energy solutions like grid storage, electric vehicles, and, eventually, electric flight. They have grown quickly, with many partnerships in sustainable and cleantech around the world.

How does an Ithaca-based company become a customer of a Bronx-based community bank? Founder and CEO, Charles Hamilton, was looking for the right kind of community bank because he knew prioritizing excellent service would be good for his business.

“As a small business, I knew a small community bank would provide the personal human touch we need and offer the ability to work more directly with the management staff. We’ve had amazing service at Spring Bank,” says Charles.

When the SBA lending options became available, we knew Conamix would qualify.

“I sailed through the PPP application process with Spring Bank. I got notification within days that we were approved, we quickly moved to closing, and the funds have already been disbursed.”

For Conamix, the SBA PPP loan has been critical.

“Because of the personal service at Spring Bank, I was approved for the PPP before much larger banks were accepting applications,” says Charles.

As an SBA preferred lender, we remain committed to prioritizing the needs of small businesses in New York City, and beyond. We know the COVID-19 health crisis has forced hundreds of small companies and startups to lay off employees or close their doors. We will continue to do what we can to change that story.

“For us, as a startup, the decision to bank with Spring Bank was timely. I didn’t anticipate when we would need good service, but I knew a community-based financial institution was the right choice,” sayhttps://spring.bank/the-cares-act/s Charles. “And I love that Spring Bank is a B Corp. They know they can do good in the community, generate returns, and provide good service. What’s not to love?”

Read more about Conamix. Read about our journey to carbon neutral. Learn more about the CARES Act.

Photo Credit: The New York Times

With over 20,000 patients across the city, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center has provided outpatient health care to New York City’s LGBTQ and homeless community for over 50 years. So, when COVID-19 infections in New York City spiked in early March and the emergency rooms and hospital beds were overflowing, Charles King, the CEO of Housing Works, knew who to call. Wendy Stark, the Executive Director of Callen-Lorde, quickly took him up on his proposition to work together.

“We quickly pivoted to be part of the city’s front-line health care response. And under very dire circumstances, our staff turned a hotel into a field hospital to serve COVID patients. We’ve needed more staff than we thought because people were sicker than we expected,” says Wendy.

In a matter of hours, Housing Works and Callen-Lorde converted a 133-room hotel in Queens into a hospital, pharmacy, and testing center. In addition to managing their telemedicine program for current patients, the Callen-Lorde team worked day and night to support the influx. And they were running out of money. The volume of their services increased, but payment and government support did not.

When the SBA CARES Act funding became available, Wendy immediately applied for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with a large financial institution; they were not successful. Three days before the SBA portal opened for the second round Wendy held an all-team meeting to announce that Callen-Lorde had no choice but to furlough 80 employees— that’s when one of their employees referred them to us.

“It’s been incredibly emotional. The Spring Bank team worked over the weekend to help us secure the PPP loan, and by Monday morning, I delivered happy news to the team that we did not have to furlough anyone right now,” says Wendy. “We had a staff call with the Spring Bank team to celebrate.”

The PPP loan provides Callen-Lorde with two months of funding and time to secure longer-term fiscal support as their team continues to work, day and night. The transformation of the health care system, one that is accessible for all New Yorkers, is also of the highest priority for Wendy.

“People have talked about this moment as an equalizer. It’s not. COVID-19 has impacted people of color, and people with less access to ongoing services most acutely,” says Wendy. “We need a centralized, single-payer, unified system that works to the benefit of our entire society. We need a total transformation.”

Callen-Lorde and Housing Works continue to operate the working hospital at the hotel in Queens. They plan to serve as many people as they can for as long as they can. Partnerships with other health centers, affordable housing providers, and community-based organizations have been crucial to their journey. We are humbled and grateful to be one of those partners.

“As a result of COVID-19, we are now connected with a financial institution oriented to serve people who are underbanked. Our overnight partnership with Spring Bank shows the beautiful way a community can organize during a crisis. It’s important that we raise our voices together,” says Wendy.

Raise your voice on behalf of Callen-Lorde by donating to their emergency fund. Read a feature piece about Callen-Lorde in the New York Times. Learn more about their COVID-19 services. Read about PPP Loan forgiveness on our website.

Young kid smiling

As an SBA Preferred Lender and community bank, we knew we could quickly ramp up to help existing and new customers access the SBAs Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). We reached out to and heard from our small business customers and our nonprofit community partners. Grand Street Settlement—a social services agency that supports thousands of people in New York City–was top of our list.

As soon as Grand St. Settlement realized they would need to close their programs, their teams organized to provide immediate supplies, prepare for virtual programming, and navigate for social distancing, emergency food distribution at their senior centers. Teachers prepped education materials for the parents of 800 preschoolers and 2000+ youth who attend their early childcare and after-school programs. They also adapted to use computers and smartphones to connect with their students.

When we heard that Grand St. Settlement needed a PPP lender, and knowing they and many other nonprofits were not confident their banks would prioritize their application, we made nonprofits a focus of our efforts.

“We are very grateful to Spring Bank. The approval happened very quickly, from one day to the next. I think it was the first time a CEO of a bank texted me directly to tell me we were approved for a loan,” says Robert. “It was faster, more efficient—and because Spring Bank has experience in nonprofit lending, they knew exactly what we needed to meet the lending requirements.”

The greatest ongoing need of their community continues to be support with social benefits, housing assistance, tax preparation, and legal guidance. The 450+ staff of Grand St. Settlement are working remotely, helping people navigate public systems during this challenging time. Robert Cordero, Executive Director of Grand St. Settlement, is optimistic they will not only survive this unprecedented time but work to rebuild more durable systems as a result.

“The most marginalized groups in New York City are the most resilient,” says Robert. “And what’s become clear is that healthcare, safe housing, and access to healthy food—these are rights, not privileges. This is laid bare for us to see, and we need policies that provide real economic support and opportunity for everyone.”

The PPP will help Grand St. Settlement make payroll for the next two months and maintain their infrastructure. We are proud to support Robert and his team as they focus on the needs and health of the families and communities they serve across NYC.

“At Grand St. Settlement, we focus on what we can control. We help people in the neighborhoods we live in and serve to create opportunities. We’ve survived the depression, the war on poverty, welfare reform—and have continued to create more impact. We have faith we will make it through this,” says Robert.

We have faith you will too, Robert. Read more about the work of Grand St. Settlement. Learn about the PPP.

Spring Bank New York

The Spring Bank Green Checking Account

Climate Week 2019, New York City. Thousands of delegates, environmentalists, and conscious consumers engaged in hundreds of panels, events, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) action-oriented gatherings. Our friends at the Center for Social Innovation hosted the closing Climate Week event, “The Marketplace of the Future,” where fellow B Corp Carbon Credit Capital—the NYC-based company that helped us become carbon neutral—showcased their global projects, including the one we support in the Amazon.

Climate Week NYC presents an annual, collective opportunity to stand for the future of our planet. And we invite you to integrate this momentum into your daily life. How? By moving your money to an ethical bank. Why? Because traditional financial institutions invest in oil, mono agriculture, logging, and other industries that contribute to our current climate crisis. You may be unknowingly supporting their investsments if you don’t know exactly where they put their—aka your–money. We encourage you to find out. Set-up a meeting with the lending team or CRA officer at your bank. Ask them to provide a list of their investments in the last five years. If they are working to shift their portfolio, like us, this is a good sign.

One of the steps we’ve taken in our journey is to offer a Green Checking account. It’s our completely paperless personal checking account with zero maintenance fee options and no overdraft fees. All you need is an email address, and your monthly statements are sent to you electronically. And, when you access your Green Checking account through the Spring Bank mobile app, you have 24/7 access to your money without printing or recycling statements ever again.

You can trust that when you bank with us, we invest your dollars back into the community. As a mission-driven, ethical bank, and the first B Corp bank in New York City, we work hard to support the community through small-dollar consumer loans and small business microloans. It’s our part in building an inclusive economy and a healthier planet.

Open a Green Checking account today. Learn about our journey to carbon neutral and what it means to be an ethical bank. Read 3 Ways to Know If You Deposit Your Money in an Ethical Bank. Check out our recent 2019 Best For The World Award from B Lab.

In Partnership with Habitat New York City Community Fund

“We have to maintain access. People have a right to live here, to build families here. If we don’t have a preservation mindset, we will cease to be New York City,” Chris Illum, Executive Director of Habitat NYC Community Fund.

Take a walk through the Lower East Side (LES) of Manhattan, and you’ll soon notice a common trend on every block: “For rent” signs plastered on once-thriving neighborhood businesses. Take a walk through the South Bronx, and unsurprisingly, you’ll see the same signs on both commercial and residential properties.

“People said the LES would never be worth much. No one saw the influx of foreign investment coming. And it’s happening all over the city. If we don’t preserve the housing that exists, if we don’t have a preservation mindset and maintain housing for all types of people, our city is only for millionaires,” explains Chris Illum, Executive Director of Habitat NYC Community Fund.

The Habitat NYC Community Fund is a critical part of their Housing Preservation Program, a multi-faceted initiative that assists low-to-moderate-income New York City homeowners in income-restricted cooperative developments, with programs designed to strengthen their ability to remain in their homes.  The fund was created to preserve existing affordable housing properties in New York City by providing small-scale financing. When their team approached us about a community investment opportunity in the South Bronx, we knew we wanted to consider it.

654 Baretto. This 48-unit, Housing Development Fund Co-Op in Hunts Point had not been fully occupied in years. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid water bills, dozens of maintenance issues, and years of back taxes put this property into a “catch-22” as Akbar Rizvi, our VP of Lending explains it. The building needed capital to fix the repairs to prevent foreclosure, but it was unable to secure financing because it couldn’t afford the water bill.

Quoted in a recent article in Next City, called A Lifeline for Preserving Limited-Equity Co-ops in New York, Akbar says:

“Most banks would hear that and go, ‘You know what? No thanks. This doesn’t make sense.’ But what helped us move forward was our commitment to understanding the full story and not jumping to conclusions — understanding what this HDFC had been through.”

We are proud to have joined efforts with the Habitat NYC Community Fund by loaning $265,000 to the co-op for debt-consolidation. So why did we take this risk when most banks would not? It started with a community partnership. Our relationships with Chris lllum and Karen Haycox, CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City, provided the long-term credibility and trust for us to consider this loan.

“They have always been strong community advocates and supported our work of preservation. We’ve always wanted to do a deal with Spring Bank, so when 654 Baretto came to us, we knew it was a good place to start together,” says Chris.

Secondly, Habitat for Humanity New York City recently became a fellow Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Certified by the US Department of Treasury, this designation allows them to make loans to existing resident-owned, multi-family affordable housing developments and nonprofit affordable housing developers. As a CDFI, Habitat for Humanity New York was able to launch their community fund and partner with other innovative lenders in restoration and preservation projects like 654 Baretto.

“Part of the reason we became a CDFI and launched the fund was to ensure working-class folks who fight so hard to be in this city can create long-term, generational wealth over time,” says Chris.

And lastly, the preservation of community in the South Bronx is key to our mission as a B Corp and as an ethical bank. Building an inclusive economy requires a collective effort.

“We are a small fund. We are not going to solve the housing crisis in New York City single-handedly. And we can’t build ourselves out of the problem. Spring Bank helped us to stem the tide for this property. We know community funds like this create stability and access to our city,” says Chris.

We couldn’t agree more.

“Partnering with Habitat for Humanity New York City to meet the financing needs of this borrower aligned with the bank’s mission in many ways: maintaining affordable housing as well as improving energy efficiency. These are tremendous issues in our community, so this was a win-win,” says Akbar.

Collective investment. Community partnership. And creating access to homes and opportunities to build wealth for all the hardworking people of New York City. This is the work we love to do.

Learn about the Habitat NYC Community Fund. Learn more about the inner workings of the 654 Barreto financing on Next City by Jared Brey. And bank local. Open your Business checking or personal Green Checking, account with us today.