A graduate of Grace Outreach Photo Credit: Grace Outreach

This is Grace Outreach.

“We are the first step in career development, and we work with women to help them determine their best path forward.” — Danae McLeod, Executive Director, Grace Outreach.

They have one of the highest pass rates of the TASC new High School Equivalency Test (TASC) in the Bronx and they are known for their adaptable, nimble approach to the needs of the women they empower. Founded in 2004, Grace Outreach serves low-income women of all ages, primarily from the Bronx, who seek to enhance their academic skills, pursue higher education and find employment. In 15 years, they have helped more than 1300 women to earn their high school equivalency diplomas, pursue higher educational goals and develop fulfilling careers. Their commitment to the financial independence of women could not be more crucial for the overall economic growth of the Bronx, currently ranked at 62nd out of all 62 counties in New York State for the educational attainment levels of its residents.

Starting with their High School Equivalency Program, they help women prepare for the TASC exam.  Grace Outreach classes cover each part of the exam: math, social studies, science, reading, and writing. According to Danae, it’s a challenging exam.

“We have the highest pass rate in the Bronx; 55 percent compared to the 40 percent borough rate,” says Danae. “The exam is the first step for most of our students.

Grace Outreach meets women right where they are, fine-tuning their programming to meet the needs of their students. Since many of their students live in shelters and earn under $10,000 a year their primary focus is often shifting their immediate circumstances. Grace Outreach helps women to see beyond the pressing needs of today and to see themselves as capable of educational and professional success.

“Most of the women we teach become first-generation college students. When they start with us, many don’t think they are college material, but we work with them to explore degrees and the jobs they lead to,” says Danae.

Part of their career exploration includes specific training programs with local community organizations. Grace Outreach partners with dozens of training programs including Hot Bread Kitchen’s bakers’ training program; Per Scholas’s technology skills training program; a customer service training with the Retail Action Project via LaGuardia Community College; and a paid internship program with Montefiore Hospital.

We are proud to partner with and support the incredible impact of Grace Outreach. Danae reached out to Ines Marino, our Director of Small Business Lending, about our nonprofit line of credit. “We had a cash flow gap between funding seasons and needed a back-up. There are always delays in payments with grantors. We are very grateful that Spring Bank supported us,” says Danae.

Grace Outreach offers open enrollment for all programs. The next cohort for their TASC classes begins in May. To enroll today, call the Grace Outreach offices at (718)328-0580 or text GED123 to 25827. To learn how you can join Grace Outreach in supporting the financial independence of women in the Bronx, read here. And for more information about our nonprofit lending options as part of our Community Impact Program, contact Ines Marino directly at imarino@springbankny.com.

Spring Bank is Home to Community Bank Heroes

Spring Bank Vice President Brian Blake has been named a Community Bank Hero by The Warren Group and Banking New York Magazine. But in accepting the award, he stated that the award was actually a reflection of the hard work of the entire Spring Bank team. Community Bank Heroes is an annual award that recognizes the leaders and visionaries of the New York Banking industry. Read the press release here. 

“There should really be 35 names on this award,” said Mr. Blake in his remarks. “In just 7 years, Spring Bank has accomplished much in pursuit of its mission to serve New York’s underbanked people and businesses. My colleagues and our board have built a bank that truly “walks the talk” when it comes to economic development and financial inclusion.”

Among other initiatives, Brian is the treasurer of the Frederick Douglass Blvd. Alliance and serves on the credit committee of Business Outreach Center Capital (BOC). He is also a frequent contributor to local “access to capital” panels, as well as national policy discussions, such as the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s BankOn 2.0 initiative. In 2015 Brian joined the New Leaders Council NYC as a 2015 Institute Fellow. He is a proud graduate of Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA (B.A), and Baruch College, CUNY, New York, NY (M.B.A.).

Banking New York magazine has been informing more than 10,000 bankers across the state for over eight years. It is part of The Warren Group’s suite of banking publications and events that serve more than 100,000 bankers in eleven states, and has been educating the industry since 1872.

The 2015 Banking New York Community Bank Heroes Award Recipients are:

Brian A. Blake, Vice President, Spring Bank

Ralph Branca, President & CEO, Victory State Bank

Nancy Foster, Senior Vice President, Bridgehampton National Bank

Drew Kessler, Vice President, M&T Bank

Marilyn Lipton, Director, Citi

Brenda Mikolajczak, Director of Retail Sales, Evans Bank, N.A.

Matt Nartowicz, Vice President/ Regional Manager, American Community Bank

Susan Proper, Branch Manager, National Bank of Coxsackie

James Terwilliger, Senior Vice President- Group Manager, Financial Planning, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust

Terri Vertalino, First Vice President, Area manager, First Niagara

Awards were distributed at a lunch event Thursday, April 2, 2015, during the Banking New York Conference at the Double Tree by Hilton in Tarrytown, NY. To see a full list of the Community Bank Heroes and more information about the awards lunch, visit: www.bankingnyconference.com, and look for the special section with winner profiles in the June issue of Banking New York magazine.

About Spring Bank:

Founded in 2007 to serve New York City’s underbanked, Spring Bank is an FDIC-insured, independently owned community bank headquartered in the Bronx, New York. In December 2012, the Bank’s second branch opened in the Harlem community of Manhattan. Since its founding, the primary mission of the Bank has been to provide innovative products, services and education that enable low-wealth customers to benefit from mainstream banking. An SBA Preferred Lending Partner, Spring Bank is equally committed to supporting locally owned small businesses through affordable loans, stimulating job growth and the virtuous cycle of economic self-determination.

Supporting Technology and Entrepreneurship

This was fun! In the summer of 2014, Spring Bank wrote a letter of credit to help the Business Outreach Center (BOC)  secure the lease for the Bronx Business Incubator. This exceptional non-profit is a leading micro-lender and provides valuable assistance to local small businesses and start-ups. Our partnership helps BOC bring expertise and technology to more people and businesses in a beautiful space.

Watch the video at YouTube.

Every project is an inspiring opportunity to work in this great borough.