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.

Pictured Above: Legally Addictive, one of our very successful small business clients in New York City, with our CEO and CLO

Just a few weeks ago, we hosted a ‘Bronx Small Business Resource Fair.’ The staff of New York City’s Office of Small Business Services (SBS) joined us at our Bronx headquarters.  Dozens of local businesses and budding entrepreneurs attended to connect with them and to learn how to grow their organizations. We were thrilled to partner with Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson to host this event.

The purpose of the gathering was for city agencies to offer critical information to small business owners as they launch companies in the Bronx. Equally important, agencies shared about new business regulations. From the Department of Environmental Protection to Sanitation and Consumer Affairs, businesses learned how to avoid easy violations and keep their businesses in good standing.

Our CRA Officer, Melanie Stern, opened the event by sharing about our mission, noting the commitment from the city representatives to the thriving of the local economy in the Bronx.

“The city representatives with us today are committed to the growth of small businesses as they are a key part of a thriving community. Additionally, they understand that an outcome of gentrification is business displacement,” said Melanie.

In his opening remarks, SBS Commissioner Greg Bishop highlighted important SBS initiatives. He spoke about how important it is for small business owners to understand local regulations, so they avoid hefty fines. Recent SBS  initiatives include “We Fund Credit,” providing affordable lines of credit to women entrepreneurs and “BE NYC,” helping more black-owned businesses start and grow.

Our co-sponsor, Councilwoman Gibson, welcomed our guests and talked about the numerous ways community and government collaboration can support the viability of the small businesses in the neighborhood. She highlighted recent efforts of how the city stepped in to support the sustainability of a multi-generational,family-owned sports apparel retailer near Yankee Stadium.

We are proud to partner with and support the hardworking city officials, entrepreneurs, and community change agents in the Bronx. And, we are grateful to be a community-focused bank, serving as a resource and gathering place for our neighbors. Thank you to the SBS, Commissioner Greg Bishop, and Councilwoman Gibson for co-hosting a very special day.

Read about SBS. Learn about our Small Business Lending Program. Open a Small Business Checking account.

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.

showcase the Spring Bank mobile app

Financial inclusion. We hope that if you know about our humanized approach to banking, you also know that we are committed to building financially inclusive communities. We believe every New Yorker deserves an equal opportunity to build credit and long-term prosperity. We do this by creating access to affordable banking products– and, with the Spring Bank mobile app, you have access to our mission-driven products and services, regardless of where you live in the city. Yaguaba, a Spring Bank customer, describes his experience with our online platform and mobile app this way:

“Online banking has made my life easier. I can do many things from home. I pay my bills through the Spring Bank mobile app. I can transfer money from one account to another. The best part about the app is that I can lock my card every time I’ve misplaced it,” says Yaguaba.
Transfer money. Pay bills. And stay in control of your budget. Our free mobile banking app allows you to manage your Spring Bank personal accounts from your phone or tablet from anywhere in the world, anytime you want. The app allows you to easily and securely

• View Account Balances.
• Check Account History.
• Pay bills and send payment to other people with PopMoney.
• Transfer funds between eligible accounts.
• Find the nearest Spring Bank Banking Centers and free ATM locations (including all Citibank branch ATMs)
• Make mobile deposits (by submitting photos of the front and back of checks).

To gain access to your account information from your mobile device, first, enroll in our Online Banking platform.*
Download the Spring Bank mobile banking app available for iOS and Android today! Or for more information, give us a call at 718-879-5000 or go to hllp://www.springbankm.com to enroll. We’d be happy to set you up so that you have 24/7 access to your Spring Bank accounts!
* Standard mobile web fees may apply so do contact your mobile carrier for more information.

A piece by Oscar Perry Abello of Next City

A few weeks ago, we celebrated a milestone- surpassing the 1000 loan mark in our Employee Opportunity Loan program and providing credit to New York City and Westchester workers when they needed it most, helping them build or improve credit scores and accumulate savings.

One of the social enterprises we partner with is Greyston Bakery.

In his recent article “What If Your Job Could Be Your Credit Score?” in Next City, reporter Oscar Perry Abello, wrote, “You may not have heard of Greyston Bakery, in Yonkers, New York, but if you are a fan of Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Ice Cream, you know its brownies.”

Not only is Greyston Bakery the supplier of the brownies you enjoy in Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, they’ve also established a unique employment model called “Open Hiring.” No background checks. No questions asked. People put their name on a list, and when a job is available, they get a call. Greyston Bakery’s employment model provides a second chance for people with a criminal record, among other barriers to employment.

In his article, Abello explains the impact our Employee Opportunity Loan for the employees of Greyston Bakery. As Abigail Saunders, the Human Resource Director of Greyston Bakery, noted, “A lot of HR professionals don’t understand financial problems at home might affect performance,” Saunders says. “The (loan) process is very painless. For whatever they need, it’s great. One of the employees took a loan out to help out a family member.”

We are incredibly proud to partner with Greyston Bakery as they support the financial health and new beginnings of their employees. Through its Open Hiring model, Greyston Bakery demonstrates equity, inclusion, and people-first business. It’s our privilege to stand with them as mission-driven, financial institution, and fellow B Corp.

Read the full story on Next City. Learn more about our Employee Opportunity Loan and the details of our Financial Empowerment Program, which includes free financial counseling with our partner, Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners. Or call Melanie Stern, Director of Consumer Lending, at 718-879-5198 to sign your company up today.

Cookouts in the city parks, endless slices of watermelon, and one of the best fireworks displays in the world. The celebration of Independence Day on the 4th of July in New York City is magical. Every year we put our work aside and acknowledge our independence; our safety, our freedom to express ourselves and to create prosperous lives for our families. We also know independence does not mean equity for all people in our city, especially when it comes to equal access to banking and building wealth.

That’s why at Spring Bank, we work hard to ensure New Yorkers have equal opportunity to build financial independence. Our mission is to serve the needs of underserved populations of New Yorkers and small business owners who have typically been excluded from mainstream banks or exploited by check cashers or payday lenders. We create innovative depository and loan products that help unbanked and underbanked consumers avoid getting trapped in cycles of debt, and we offer affordable financial products– like our unique Start Loan which can help build credit and savings- so that our city thrives! We believe that every family has the right to financial freedom on the 4th of July and every day.

Let us know how we can support you in meeting your financial goals. And check out our personal checking accounts, savings accounts, and our online banking.

woman at desk, holding brochure Celebrating 100’s of Financially Empowered Employees with over 1000 Employee Opportunity Loans

Crave Fishbar and Grand Street Settlement. These are just two of the companies in New York City we’ve supported over the last few years as they support the financial wellbeing of their employees. Through our Financial Empowerment Program, these social enterprises offer their employees access to both free financial counseling via our partner, Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, and our Employee Opportunity Loan. By offering their employees this financial employee benefit, they create healthier, more productive workplaces.  And we are proud to announce, we’ve provided over 1000 loans to New York City and Westchester workers when they most needed it and helped them build or improve credit scores and accumulate savings.

Why is this a milestone worth celebrating? Because half of American employees are very concerned about their financial security, and two-thirds don’t have enough savings to cover three months of expenses. Financial security—or lack thereof– impacts productivity. According to a January 2019 report from the American Management Association, “Employers are starting to realize that it’s not just the physical health that impacts employees but their financial health as well. Employees who are financially sound and without significant money worries at home are happier and more focused on the job.”

Whether businesses prepare for it or not, financial stress shows up at work. We know our Financial Empowerment Program offers a solution to ease not only this stress but also empowers employees with greater financial capability. We don’t claim to solve all the financial concerns of employees, but we do know we’ve helped working New Yorkers bridge the occasional gap between unexpected expenses and available savings and help to alleviate financial stress.

“Every time an employee has an emergency, they can use the Employee Opportunity Loan instead of going to an exploitative online, payday lender or borrowing against retirement. Through our Financial Empowerment Program, we seek to improve long-term financial outcomes for employers and employees. We feel we are making a difference,” says Melanie Stern, Director of Consumer Lending.

Our data tell us we are making a difference. On average, people who secure our Employee Opportunity Loan and make timely payments have seen their credit scores increase 56 points or see a first-time score of as much as 700 points after one year. Healthy credit scores create access people need to build wealth. Employers can play a huge part in this! Our vision is for every New York City employer to adopt a Financial Empowerment Program as part of their employee benefits package.

“Ultimately, our goal is for every employer to understand that financial health and security creates healthier, more productive workplaces,” says Melanie.

How does it work? The Financial Empowerment Program serves as a tech-enabled comprehensive financial health tool for an employee with two connected opportunities:

  1. The Spring Bank Employee Opportunity Loan provides up to$2500 with no minimum credit score requirement and built-in savings and credit building features. Payments are directly deposited from payroll to a savings account, and borrowers can seamlessly continue to make deposits into savings after the loan has been paid. We accept ID NYC to make it accessible for most New Yorkers.
  2. The Trusted Advisor program from Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners gives employees access to free, unlimited, and personalized financial counseling via phone, Skype, or text. NTFP counselors help their clients create financial action plans and provide weekly check-ins to assess progress

We know that financial counseling, when supported by access to an affordable, small-dollar loan provides a comprehensive financial health benefit for employees. Via our fintech platform employees can take advantage of either or both offerings. And it’s zero cost, zero hassle for employers. Learn more about our Employee Opportunity Loan or how you can support your employees with our Financial Empowerment Program by contacting Melanie Stern at mstern@springbankny.com or at (718) 879-5198.

Showcase Sugar Monk cocktail selection

Move along cranberry vodka. Sugar Monk, Harlem’s newest cocktail lounge, is designed for cocktail aficionados. For those of us who prefer the spice, there’s Thelonius: Whistlepig 10-year rye, allspice, Whistlepig barrel-aged maple syrup, lemon, Meyer lemon, maple & lavender bitters. Or if you’re palette favors the tropics, perhaps Trinkle Tinkle is more your style with Probitas white blended rum washed in coconut butter & Damascan rosehip tea, pineapple, coconut, lime, shiso/lemongrass syrup, and aquafaba.

“Where art, mixology, and alchemy combine to transcend the senses and elate the most discriminating palates,” Sugar Monk gives attention to every detail in their cocktails— and to their space. Founders Ektoras Binikos, a mixologist and visual artist, and Simon Jutras, a photographer, and designer, create an inclusive environment.

“Sugar Monk somehow transcends gender, race, and sexual orientation. All kinds of people are visiting us. We designed a place where people can come and be themselves, be inspired and excited,” says Ektoras.

Described as an “oasis” by clientele, the lounge is very intimate and comfortable with soft lighting and music so that guests can talk to one another. Their unusual cocktail menu categorizes libations into eight categories representing four unique cocktails. The Monk’s Dream category, for example, features the ‘ancient and mysterious elixirs distilled by monks from nature’s flora.’ The Little Rootie Tootie, Sugar Monk’s selection of non-alcoholic cocktails are crafted as ‘playful, exciting and intended to delight.’ With the freshest ingredients, infusions and perfectly cut ice to match every libation, you can’t go wrong.

“We are very focused on crafting cocktails for the elevated palate. Sugar Monk is a place to learn about the fine art of mixology,” says Ektoras. “Our mixologists spend hours practicing their craft. They love it. They view it as an art form.”

When Simon and Ektoras came to us to explore our small business lending services, we knew they had created something very special. We were pleased to offer them our SBA-guaranteed Small Business Loan for inventory and a Line of Credit to help them continue to grow the business.

“We love that Spring Bank is in our neighborhood. They are very personable, and Josefa and Ines have been great to work with. We feel like we are part of a family,” says Ektoras.

Don’t miss the special opportunity to join Sugar Monk for their private opening, this Sunday, June 16th. Three seatings between the hours of 5 and 7 PM; 7:30 and 9:30 PM; and 10 PM and midnight are available for booking until Friday. The evening includes performances curated by Penny Arcade with Joey Arias, Rachel Garniez and Sandra Wiegl with musical direction by Ted Baker. RSVP at: info@sugarmonklounge.com. And if you can’t make it this Sunday, do visit them Tuesday through Saturday from 6 pm to 2 am on Frederick Douglass Blvd between 123rd and 124th streets. Read more about Sugar Monk’s story. Learn about our Small Business Lending Program or open your personal checking account today.

Heidy De La Cruz, our Bronx Branch Manager, is in service to her team and her customers. With every interaction, her mission is to offer support, even if it’s not related to banking.  

“I always try to support a customer in any way they need it. Sometimes it’s offering a point of view or providing resources. I like to help people in any way possible even if it’s for only ten minutes,” says Heidy.  

When Heidy started working as a receptionist at Spring Bank six years ago, she knew she wanted to build her career in banking. But looking back she can hardly believe how far she’s come so quickly.  

“When I started at Spring Bank, I had a smaller mentality for life. I felt comfortable as a receptionist. But within a couple of years, I saw new opportunities, and I started asking for more work,” says Heidy.  

With the encouragement of colleagues, it started to click for Heidy. Not only was she capable of succeeding as a banker, but she was also in pursuit of becoming a manager.  

“I started growing. I asked the bankers if they needed help because I wanted to learn more. Working as a receptionist wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to learn all aspects of the bank so that I could easily solve any client problem,” says Heidy.

Heidy’s career development is no surprise to us. Her commitment to her learning and her leadership has paid off. In just a year becoming the Branch Manager of our Bronx branch, she led the effort to increase the size and effectiveness of her team. She gives credit to her colleagues and her hardworking team for their consistent encouragement and support.  

“I doubted myself so many times. But I have great support at Spring Bank. If I ask for help, they are always willing to answer my questions, “says Heidy.  

In addition to her role as Bronx Branch Manager, Heidy is also studying Business Administration with a focus on management. She receives her associate degree in the spring of 2020 and begins her bachelor’s degree at Baruch College that fall. Heidy is also the proud mother of three, beautiful girls.  

“My girls are my highest motivation. I can’t tell them to be someone if their mom isn’t someone,” says Heidy. “They tell me, ‘Mom, I want to be like you.’ I tell them, ‘No, you’ll do better than me. When life gives you an opportunity, make the most of it. If you do good by people, good things will happen to you,” says Heidy.

‘Doing good by people’ is the approach Heidy takes every day in her work at Spring Bank. She views each customer as part of the Spring Bank Family.

“We are not an ordinary bank. We know who you are, and when you bank with us, you become our family. We will offer you 100 percent of our attention, know your family, care about your future. That’s why you should bank with us,” says Heidy.

We are very proud of Heidy, her hard work and commitment to her growth and the “family” she’s grown at our headquarters in the Bronx. Learn how you can join the Spring Bank family by opening a personal checking account online. Check out our small business checking. And stop by our branches in the Bronx or Harlem. As Heidy puts it, “if we can do good by you,” in any way, let us know.