Four years ago, Max Lynch did not imagine that his dream would be to live in the Bronx and to support community building through social innovation. Bound toward a career in investment banking, Max discovered the world of social enterprise, including the B Corp movement, during his junior year at Fordham University. For the last six months, as our Community Engagement Consultant, he’s led a project with us to discover new opportunities for how we can continue to engage deeply with our community.
“The Social Innovation Collaboratory at Fordham and working with Spring Bank changed my business school experience. I lived on campus at Fordham but mostly stayed in my bubble. I never thought I’d work for a community bank in the South Bronx, but working at Spring Bank has taught me what it means to be a community stakeholder, and this is what I want to be part of,” says Max.
Max served as Spring Bank’s liaison to the “Thinkubator” program run by local nonprofit HERE to HERE. Thinkubator is a consultancy-style program that challenges Bronx high school students to create solutions to real-world business problems. With Max, the students looked at ways to help Spring work with the local community to make banking more appealing to currently unbanked residents.
The cohort studied reports, interviewed local community leaders, and participated in community meetings. Their findings? Community-based organizations in the Bronx who offer a range of holistic services from education to mental health and legal aid-see higher rates of economic achievement with their clients and in their neighborhoods. And because a young person typically keeps their first bank account for years, Spring Bank has an opportunity to engage with and support people for many decades of their life. This opportunity, as a community-based bank, inspired Max to dig in and identify strategic partnerships.
“I wanted to stay on it. I didn’t feel like I finished my work after the Thinkubator project. And I knew there were initiatives in the South Bronx that Spring Bank was interested in supporting,” explains Max.
One hundred and forty community meetings later and dozens of interviews with public advocates, former gang members, educators, and other mission-driven social enterprises, Max identified impact opportunities for us ranging from a Youth Financial Wellness Program to an Impact Deposit Fund. To Max, a pressing opportunity is to work in anti-violence through the lens of financial inclusion in the Bronx.
“I wanted to understand how Spring Bank could use the tools of financial empowerment, like creditbuilding and savings, to support the work of public safety officers and anti-violence organizations like Cure Violence and Bronx Rise Against Gun Violence (B.R.A.G.), as they work with gang members and formerly incarcerated people,” says Max.
Max identified that offering our small-dollar loans coupled with free financial counseling, could be a good place to start. We are incredibly grateful to Max and his fellow social enterprise students at Fordham University for their hard work and commitment to us and to the well-being of the Bronx. We are eager to continue the exploration of what it means for us to increase our impact and are considering the initiatives presented. Lucky for us that Max’s trajectory shifted him from Wall Street to 167th Street in the South Bronx.