While small businesses are known to be the backbone of the economy, community banks build local communities by reinvesting local dollars back into the community to help create local jobs. And when there is a need, community banks often find ways to help support the community and local neighbors.

“Our business, as a community bank, is more than the typical banking transactions you think of,” says Greg Larson, President & CEO of Drake Bank, “We’re in the business of supporting and helping our community grow and thrive. When we meet with our clients, it isn’t about the transaction; it is about building a relationship, supporting our local community, and being there for our neighbors.”

The Elephant in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the pocketbook of many of our neighbors. According to the Federal Reserve’s Report, 64% of Minnesota respondents indicated that COVID-19 was a significant disruption and income loss, job cuts, business impacts, and housing were some of the main impacts from the pandemic. Additionally, even before the onset of COVID-19, 56% of American adults have lost sleep over at least one money issue, and nearly 3 in 10 Americans without any emergency savings, according to a Bankrate survey.

From the beginning, many organizations and government agencies understood the impact that COVID-19 was going to have on our communities and began offering relief funds, grant programs, and loans to help get needed money back into the community’s pocketbooks.

Mission-Driven Solution

At Drake, our mission is to “Build a Better Future,” and with the abundance of uncertainty, we leaned into our mission and values to help build a better future through the Drake COVID-19 Relief Fund, administered by The Quorum Foundation. The fund was an opportunity inspired by Director David Anastasi and supported by our board and employees, who graciously donated over $80,000 to help our clients, families, friends, and neighbors that were impacted financially from COVID-19.

The Drake COVID-19 Relief Fund launched on April 20th. Individuals were able to apply for a $500 grant to help with any financial needs due to the pandemic. In eight weeks, the fund was allocated to 155 individuals to help with paying rent, utilities, business expenses, groceries, and in one case, a laptop for remote learning: “My children have multiple google meetings/zoom meetings that they attend throughout the week. Often the computer is needed at the same time as each other. We purchased a laptop, so my children are able to do their schooling.”

Two-thirds of the 155 allocated grants were provided to individuals in the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Overall, 97% of the grants were provided to individuals in the 11 county Twin Cities metro, correlating with Drake Bank’s market area.

Making an Impact

“I just wanted to reach out say thank you for the generous gift! I have never really won anything in my life, but to win this was big! My 9-year-old daughter and I have had a year of tremendous loss – one right after the other, and COVID-19 has caused us to really sit down and get creative with little resources. Your gift was a blessing right on time. I can not say it enough. Thank You! Gracias! Danke! Merci! Ua tsuag!”

In times of change, instability, and stress, our community must remain strong. Our compassion for each other is what will hold us as a community together.

“Thank you so much for selecting me for the COVID-19 Relief Fund grant. I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. These times are tough, and it is welcoming to see the good in people.”

And we found it humbling and inspiring to hear how some of the individuals planned to pay-it-forward when they were able to stabilize: “Thank you so very much!!! It will be very helpful for me in this difficult time. I am very grateful to the generous donors of this grant! It will help me to be able to give massages to some of the financially challenged clients at a significant discount (or free) when I reopen my business.”

Through good and bad, we are MN this together. Let’s continue to hold strong and build a better future for our communities.