Member news plus local and national philanthropic reporting

  • July 06, 2021 8:00 AM | Philanthropy Delaware (Administrator)

    (July 5, 2021 by Delaware Public Media) Delaware’s COVID-19 Strategic Response Fund is accepting applications for another round of Vision Grants. The Vision Grants Program is one of two parts of the COVID fund created by the Delaware Community Foundation and Philanthropy Delaware.

    “The first part is the Community Grants, which are rapid and quick grants - getting out for services right now," said Delaware Community Foundation president Stuart Comstock-Gay. The Vision Grants piece of it is trying to encourage nonprofits to think about the big things they have in mind and give them some resources to put them in place. Or in this case, think about the big things and think about what planning they need to do to implement big changes.”

    Comstock-Gay says previous Vision Grants helped Jewish Family Services create its statewide counseling network for people struggling while collecting unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Comstock-Gay says money also went to Love Inc. of Mid Delmarva to build a centralized food distribution system in Sussex County.

    He says they are encouraging nonprofits to think about big projects and what’s need to make them happen. That includes merging with other nonprofits.

    “There are some organizations that are saying.'I’m not sure we’re doing this the best way, but hey, if we hooked up with another organization, we could really do something big.'" Comstock-Gay said. "I think mergers are always good to consider; I always encourage organizations (especially) when they’re going through a major personnel transition, for the board to consider - hey is this the time to link up with someone else instead of trying to go it alone.”

    The application deadline for this round of Vision Grants is July 23 at 5 p.m.

  • July 05, 2021 8:00 AM | Philanthropy Delaware (Administrator)

    (July 5, 2021 by Cape Gazette)  Delaware nonprofits play a critical role in keeping the community safe during COVID-19. But who keeps nonprofits safe?

    Early in the pandemic, a group of Delaware businessmen saw nonprofits struggling to find and afford personal protective equipment. Leveraging their experience with emergency management and logistics, they jumped into action and formed Donate Delaware as a hub for procuring and distributing donations. The organization purchased PPE supplies, organized a warehouse and volunteers, and in the first quarter alone, distributed free or at cost, more than 61,000 pieces of PPE like face masks, isolation gowns, medical gloves and sanitizer to nonprofits and schools statewide.

    Now, Dave Tiberi, Dr. Robert Andrzejewski, and Richard Piendak have turned their attention to a post-pandemic future and are discussing with United Way of Delaware how the PPE bulk purchasing model they perfected during COVID might evolve to offer Delaware nonprofits and schools cost-effective purchasing solutions for a wider range of supplies.

    “COVID forced everyone to think outside the box. Donate Delaware grew quickly out of that experience,” said Dave Tiberi, Donate Delaware co-founder and president. “And now we realize that the systems, resources, and experiences we developed over the last year have application to a much wider range of purchasing and logistics solutions for nonprofits and schools. Teaming up with United Way of Delaware gives us access to their 75 years’ experience working with nonprofits on the ground, and a potential platform for nonprofits to access the savings and efficiencies that bulk purchasing, storage and delivery can offer.”

    Tierra Fair, UWDE director of community engagement, said, “Donate Delaware was born in adversity yet thrived because of the determination, experience and commitment of its founders. They built a system that’s simple and effective, providing nonprofits and schools access to affordable PPE they might not otherwise have had. What’s clear now is that the Donate Delaware platform has the potential to serve a broader range of nonprofit purchasing needs more efficiently and cost-effectively. Early in the pandemic, United Way of Delaware supported Donate Delaware, allowing them to offer many PPE products free to nonprofits. By partnering with Donate Delaware in a more integrated way, we hope to bring our nonprofit experience, resources and relationships together with the scale, physical resources and expertise of Donate Delaware in ways that make one plus one equal three.”

    United Way of Delaware and Donate Delaware are looking to present nonprofits and schools with a working model for bulk purchasing, storage and distribution of PPE and other consumable supplies later this summer. In the interim, Donate Delaware invites both nonprofits who may need supplies and those who have supplies or cash to donate for supplies to contact them at

  • July 01, 2021 8:00 AM | Philanthropy Delaware (Administrator)

    ( June 09, 2021 - GLOBE NEWSWIRE - WSFS Press Release) WSFS is a Philanthropy Delaware Member --- WSFS Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: WSFS), the parent company of WSFS Bank, announced the merging of the WSFS Foundation and the WSFS Community Foundation to form the WSFS CARES Foundation.

    The WSFS Foundation, founded in 2003, was the philanthropic arm of WSFS Financial Corporation, while the WSFS Community Foundation, previously the Beneficial Bank Foundation, was founded in 2007, and joined WSFS as part of the acquisition of Beneficial Bank.

    The combination of these two foundations will allow WSFS to provide even greater support to the Communities throughout the Bank’s footprint. The WSFS CARES Foundation will focus on supporting local nonprofits that provide tools for success, with its key pillars of support as follows:

    Community investments

    Affordable housing

    Revitalization and business economic empowerment

    Education and leadership development

    Strengthening those in need

    “For nearly 200 years, WSFS has been deeply rooted in the Communities we serve,” said Rodger Levenson, WSFS’ Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer. “The formation of the WSFS CARES Foundation will further enhance our efforts to improve our Communities and to promote inclusion and diversity. We look forward to supporting a variety of initiatives, aligned with our Foundation’s pillars. At WSFS, we believe that as we serve, we strengthen, and as we strengthen, we have more opportunities to serve. It’s a virtuous cycle that enriches our organization and our Community.”

    WSFS has a storied history of supporting its Communities, especially through the work of its foundation. In 2020, the WSFS Community Foundation provided $300,000 in grants to 21 local nonprofits engaged in the fight against COVID-19, WSFS Bank and the WSFS Community Foundation donated $35,500 to provide hundreds of technology devices to area students for online learning during the pandemic, and the Foundations continued planned initiatives throughout the Greater Philadelphia and Delaware region totaling more than $1.6 million in grants.

    In addition, in March 2021, as part of the combination with Bryn Mawr Bank Corporation, WSFS made a $2 million grant to the WSFS Community Foundation to support underserved communities.

    About the WSFS CARES Foundation

    The WSFS CARES Foundation brings WSFS’ mission of We Stand for Service® to life across the communities we serve. The mission of the WSFS CARES Foundation is to support qualified nonprofit service organizations within our regional footprint that are invested in improving communities, fostering a spirit of inclusion and diversity, and whose focus aligns with the WSFS CARES Foundation’s transformational vision.

    About WSFS Financial Corporation

    WSFS Financial Corporation is a multi-billion-dollar financial services company. Its primary subsidiary, WSFS Bank, is the oldest and largest locally managed bank and trust company headquartered in Delaware and the Greater Philadelphia region. As of March 31, 2021, WSFS Financial Corporation had $14.7 billion in assets on its balance sheet and $24.7 billion in assets under management and administration. WSFS operates from 111 offices, 88 of which are banking offices, located in Pennsylvania (51), Delaware (42), New Jersey (16), Virginia (1) and Nevada (1) and provides comprehensive financial services including commercial banking, retail banking, cash management and trust and wealth management. Other subsidiaries or divisions include Arrow Land Transfer, Cash Connect®, Cypress Capital Management, LLC (Cypress), Christiana Trust Company of Delaware®, NewLane Finance®, Powdermill® Financial Solutions, West Capital Management®, WSFS Institutional Services®, WSFS Mortgage®, and WSFS Wealth® Investments. Serving the Greater Delaware Valley since 1832, WSFS Bank is one of the ten oldest banks in the United States continuously operating under the same name. For more information, please visit

    Media Contact: Kyle Babcock


  • June 23, 2021 10:00 AM | Philanthropy Delaware (Administrator)

    (April 29, 2021 by Joy Ashford, Delaware Online) Louise Cummings (Ballard Community Fund) is a Philanthropy Delaware Member. Across Delaware, citizens are doing good for the state and for each other.

    As part of the Delaware Salute to Service with Multiplying Good, five Delawareans have been chosen for their outstanding service benefiting local communities. Delaware Online/The News Journal is a co-sponsor of the event.

    All five finalists have been a “driving force” behind meaningful local change, according to Multiplying Good’s Delaware Executive Director Michele Fidance.

    “These folks are the backbone of public service,” Fidance said, detailing how each had brought their community together despite the pandemic to fulfill a lifelong call to help others. 

    All five will be honored during the 2021 Delaware Salute to Service at 6 p.m. on April 29. During the ceremony, one of the five finalists will also be chosen to represent Delaware at the National Jefferson Awards later this year. 

    Louise Cummings

    In 2017, Louise Cummings’ late husband Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard was killed in the line of duty while investigating a suspicious vehicle.

    Since his death, Cummings has dedicated herself to charitable work in his memory, including starting the Ballard Community Fund at the Delaware Community Foundation, which raised over $44,000 through its virtual event in 2020. The foundation has sponsored nonprofits focusing on veteran mental health, education, domestic violence, and other local causes.

    During the pandemic, the fund chose to focus on PPE distribution, raising over $12,000 to distribute face shields to law enforcement officers across the state.

    Beyond the Ballard Community Fund, Cummings also created and manages Ballard’s Reading buddies, an organization that partners with United Way to foster a love of reading in first and second graders.

    BACKGROUND:DSP widow raising funds for counselors who helped daughter through her grief

    She’s also found time to volunteer as the interim executive director for Supporting Kidds, Inc., a nonprofit that supports children and families who have experienced loss.

    As she wrote in a birthday fundraiser she hosted for the organization, “My daughter never met her biological father because he died before she was born. Then her only dad she knew in physical form Delaware State Trooper Cpl. Stephen Ballard was killed In the line of duty 2 years ago. She was only 5.

    "This year for my birthday I want to help other families who have suffered a loss like we have (whether a child, sibling, parent or any other special person)… my birthday is truly a blessing to bless others.”

    William Gay

    Over a long and meaningful life, Bill Gay has stayed busy.

    After a 20-year military career and 24 years in information technology, he started his third — and favorite, so far — career as a full-time volunteer in Sussex County.

    Gay has focused on supporting veterans, serving as the mentor coordinator for the Sussex County Veterans Treatment Court, which has grown to assist 60 male and 7 female veterans. He and his wife Diane also served as two of the first volunteers for Bethany’s Operation SEA’s Day Warrior Family Beach Week, an event that has helped over 175 wounded warriors and their families heal and connect with one another.

    Home of the Brave (a transitional house for veterans), the Delaware Veterans Home assisted living facility, and the National Guard Youth Foundation. 

    Additionally, Gay has also helped five families become homeowners through a partnership with the Sussex Habitat for Humanity, the Diamond State Community Land Trust and the Sussex Contractors for a Cause. He’s also deeply involved with the St. Martha’s Episcopal Church, and chaired the team that hosted the annual Bethany Welcome to the Community Picnic for over 125 international students.

    Markevis Gideon

    When Markevis Gideon was 12 years old, a middle school teacher let him take an old computer home so he could try his hand at repairing it.

    Gideon credits that teacher’s investment with empowering him to believe a career in tech was possible for him at a young age, and giving him the incentive to focus his passions at the Howard High School of Technology.

    Now, he’s built a successful career for himself as the founder of NERDiT NOW, an organization that aims to “make tech affordable, accessible, and inspirational,” according to their website. NERDiT NOW aims to create a more ethical “technology ecosystem” through purchasing and repairing broken tech, then re-selling it at an affordable price or donating it to those in need in the community. 

    So far, The NERDiT Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, has donated over 7,500 computers to those in need, to support their mission that “everyone should be afforded the opportunity to have technology in their lives.” In the past year, they ramped up their services, donating 5,000 total devices in 2020 alone.

    The foundation also provides pre-apprentice and apprentice training programs for those looking for a pathway into a tech career, and aims to close not only the digital divide but the income divide, as well.

    Jeremy Moore

    Just over eight years ago, Jeremy Moore was seriously injured during a night patrol in Afghanistan.

    Moore, an army veteran from the 82nd Airborne Division, sustained serious injuries to his back, legs and head, and had to learn how to walk again while battling chronic pain, depression and self-doubt. But after finding himself physically, mentally, and spiritually broken, Moore rebuilt his life through pursuing his passions for service and physical fitness.

    In 2018, he co-founded the nonprofit More Than Fitness, an organization that works toward “equipping young people with the tools to build strong bodies, resilient minds, and unbreakable spirits,” according to the organization's website. Through More Than Fitness, Moore has helped over 100 high school students so far build self-confidence through building a practice of exercise, mindfulness, and meditation.

    In the past three years, the nonprofit has already raised over $40,000 and prospered with CrossFit Diamond State and Wilmington’s Classic Barber Shop. Through their successful fundraising efforts, Moore has been able to provide free programming to young people across the state, and support them in building bolstering both their physical and mental health and resiliency. 

    Toni Short

    After sustaining a serious neck and back injury while working as a nurse in 2014, Toni Short found herself homeless.

    With nowhere to call home, Short and her three cats pulled into the Rehoboth Walmart parking lot and ended up living there for two years. It didn’t take long for Short to realize she wasn’t the only homeless person living in the parking lot — or for her to begin working to help.

    Every day, she went to find food for those who lived in that parking lot, and worked to connect them with motel rooms, clothes, meals, and money. In 2015, those efforts grew into Lighthouse for Broken Wings, a nonprofit for those experiencing homelessness which opened its first house the following year. Short’s outreach efforts grew to support over 50 individuals who were able to use her first transitional house.

    In 2019, Short’s advocacy for the homeless entered a new chapter when she was hired as the manager for the Immanuel Shelter. There, Short supervised 81 people experiencing homelessness and helped many find jobs, permanent homes, and necessary medical attention.

    Short has worked without pay for her foundation for several years, and used her own money from outside jobs to pay for those who cannot afford to live in her houses. Over the many years she’s been helping the homeless, Short has impacted the lives of over 500 people and raised $30,000 in support of them.

  • June 23, 2021 9:25 AM | Philanthropy Delaware (Administrator)

    (Tuesday June 22, 2021 by Allison Levine) The Vision Grants Program, part of the Delaware COVID-19 Strategic Response Fund, will begin accepting applications on June 28, 2021.

    Through the Vision Grants Program, the fund will invest in interventions and initiatives that will address community challenges. Vision Grants will support bold solutions, innovation, and collaboration in moving beyond “business as usual” or the status quo.

    The goal of the Vision Grants Program is to improve service to Delaware communities by helping organizations:

    • Institute innovative approaches to address systemic issues that impact Delaware and that no one organization could solve independently. This could include for-profit/nonprofit joint ventures, public-private partnerships, coordination in a geographic area, and/or issue-area collaborations.
    • Reposition and/or integrate services across multiple agencies where current operating models no longer fit or can be improved, creating catalytic impact on the partners’ capacity effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and financial health.
    • Merge in cases in which two or more organizations can increase effectiveness, sustainability and better serve their constituencies by joining together than remaining separate.

    For full details and to apply, visit

    About the Delaware COVID-19 Strategic Response Fund

    The Strategic Response Fund was established to address the state’s emerging and evolving needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Grantees are selected through a rigorous process that involves a diverse team of more than 50 community leaders representing all three counties and a range of areas of expertise.

    The fund, a partnership of the DCF and Philanthropy Delaware (PD), includes generous gifts from the Longwood Foundation, Barclays, New Castle County, Welfare Foundation, CSC, Crestlea Foundation, Fund for Women, Highmark, Jesse Ball Du Pont Fund, Laffey-McHugh, Discover, DCF, DuPont, Gates Foundation, Jeff and Rhonda Banning Foundation, Comenity Bank, M&T, WSFS Bank, Fulton Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, TD Bank and others.

    Nearly 300 individual donors have donated $135,300. The DCF also has waived all administrative fees for this fund, so that 100 percent of the funds are going to organizations helping people in need.                                                                       

    The Delaware COVID-19 Strategic Response Fund is part of the Delaware COVID-19 Emergency Response Initiative, a nonprofit collaborative response to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. The DCF, DANA, PD and United Way of Delaware are partnering to coordinate charitable resources to maximize impact statewide during this crisis.

  • June 21, 2021 4:32 PM | Philanthropy Delaware (Administrator)

    (June 21, 2021 by Press Release) Wilmington Alliance is a Philanthropy Delaware Member. In May 2020, Cornerstone West CDC and Wilmington Alliance formed The Wilmington Strong Fund to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first phase of the grant, the fund provided $1000 grants to 98 small businesses to cover expenses such as rent payments, mortgage payments, utility, and supplier bills. During Phase II, the Fund disbursed an additional 52 grants to small businesses for a total of 150 grants given out to local businesses.

    Of those awarded, 68% were minority business owners, 53% were women-owned businesses, and 80% of grant recipients have revenues less than $150,000. Awards were disbursed across diverse industries including food & beverage, retail, construction, and professional services. 

    Grantees used funds to pay their rent or mortgage (41%), paid inventory or supplier bills (29%), or paid utility bills (22%). Most impressively, 78% of awardees reported receiving this grant increased their confidence in keeping their business open. To view the full impact report for the phase I and II of the Wilmington Strong Fund click here.

    "Receiving this grant restores my faith in the local community to recognize and support local businesses who are struggling," said one local business owner.

    “We are so proud of the success of this important partnership.  Cornerstone West will continue to be a leader in finding pathways to build and strengthen our local economy with projects such as the Wilmington Strong Fund,” said Sarah Lester, CEO of Cornerstone West CDC.

    As the project moves into its third phase, the Wilmington Strong Fund will implement the following programmatic efforts:

    • Emergency Grants – continue to disburse $1000 grants to first time applicants.
    • Free Marketing Services– In partnership with WilmingtonMADE, a shop local campaign powered by Wilmington Alliance, provide high quality marketing photography and other advertising resources to all awardees.
    • Storefront Improvements – Provide up to $5,000 to awardees from Phase I & II for facade improvements.
    • Equipment & Interior Repairs – Provide up to $5,000 to awardees from Phase I & II for interior repairs and equipment upgrades.
    • Education - Awardees will receive priority status in an executive education program for established small business owners, in partnership with Interise & DE Black Chamber of Commerce.

    “We remain committed to working to ensure that Wilmington businesses stay open,” said Renata Kowalczyk, president and CEO of Wilmington Alliance. “Wilmington Alliance is proud to be in a space to help create collaborative opportunities to do the right thing for our entrepreneurs and residents here in Wilmington.”

    The Wilmington Strong Fund is led by a partnership between Cornerstone West CDC and the Wilmington Alliance, with support from Barclays US Consumer Bank, Comenity Capital Bank, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, True Access Capital, Cinnaire, the Delaware Division of Small Business, Central Baptist CDC, Latin American Community Center, WIN Factory, Wilmington Community Advisory Council and Collaborate Northeast.

    Applications for phase three of the fund are now being accepted. To apply for the fund or to donate, visit

  • June 16, 2021 6:35 PM | Philanthropy Delaware (Administrator)

    (June 14, 2021 by SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is a Philanthropy Delaware member. Exceptional Care for Children (ECC), Delaware’s first and only residential, pediatric skilled nursing facility, recently received a $250,000 contribution from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware towards its future young adult center to provide specialized care for youth aging out of pediatric care.

    BluePrints for the Community, the donor-advised fund of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware at the Delaware Community Foundation, has contributed over $21 million to the community since its inception in 2007. It was established to serve Delawareans, with emphasis on, but not limited to, the needs of the uninsured and underserved, and to reduce health care disparities in minority population and address social determinants of health.

    “Exceptional Care for Children is unique in its purpose, mission, and resident population as a whole, which sets us apart from other healthcare providers. In order to continue to meet the unique needs of our children as they age, our organization plans to construct a contiguous building on our campus that will eventually be home to our adolescents and young adults. A gift of this size is transformational for our organization and we are grateful that Highmark Delaware recognizes the growing needs of medically-fragile children and their families in our community,” said John L. White, LNHA, Executive Director of Exceptional Care for Children.

    Presently, the residents of Exceptional Care for Children must transfer out of ECC prior to their 21st birthday. To fill the healthcare gap that exists between adolescent and adulthood for medically complex individuals, ECC has launched a capital campaign to construct a 22-bed skilled nursing building on their property called the “Bridge Unit”. This building will work to ensure that there is a deliberate transition and not transfer of care for Delaware’s most fragile citizens.

    “Exceptional Care for Children has long provided quality skilled nursing for some of our most vulnerable children. We are proud to be part of their new bridge unit to continue caring for youth with unique needs and circumstances,” said Nick Moriello, President of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware.

  • June 15, 2021 7:04 PM | Philanthropy Delaware (Administrator)

    (June 14, 2020 by Mike Rocheleau Delaware Business Times) Beebe is a Philanthropy Delaware Member. The Beebe Auxiliary gathered outdoors recently to celebrate a difficult year of fundraising for Beebe Healthcare due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The Auxiliary, which runs a craft group, a thrift shop beside the go-kart track at Midway, the gift shop at the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus, along with many other fundraising efforts, had all of these normal avenues closed or limited for the entirety of the year.

    Still, the group was able to raise and donate $125,000 to Beebe. They presented the check and honorary memberships to David A. Tam, MD, MBA, FACHE, President & CEO, Beebe Healthcare, and Bill Chasanov, DO, infectious disease physician, VP, Chief Officer of Population Heath, Value Based Care, Physician in Chief, at the Cordrey’s East Coast Garden Center near Millsboro recently.

    “It certainly has been a difficult year for our members, but we are really proud to donate this amount during turbulent times throughout our community,” said Wendell Alfred, President of Beebe’s Auxiliary. “It was a pleasure to honor Drs. Tam and Chasanov, too, for their service to the community during the pandemic.”

    The Auxiliary’s donation will help fund the Heart and Vascular Center, which represents the renovations completed to the areas where cardiology and vascular tests are done at the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus.

    “It’s such an asset for Beebe Healthcare to have a thriving Auxiliary to support us,” said David A. Tam, MD, MBA, FACHE, President & CEO, Beebe Healthcare. “I look forward to many years of partnering with the Auxiliary as they celebrate 85 years of service to our community.”

    Over the years, Beebe Auxiliary has raised millions in funds for various Beebe needs, including the Margaret H. Rollins School of Nursing, the Chapel at the medical center, the Georgetown Health Campus, two hyperbaric chambers at Beebe Wound Healing, special wheel-chairs for patients visiting the medical center and Tunnell Cancer Center, new navigational bronchoscopy equipment, and more.

    “All avenues of fundraising are so important for Beebe,” said Tom Protack, President, Beebe Medical Foundation. “The Foundation is so happy to have partners like the Auxiliary. The millions they have donated over the years has been a tremendous support to Beebe’s mission.”

  • June 15, 2021 6:04 PM | Philanthropy Delaware (Administrator)

    (June 14, 2021 By Delaware Business Now) WSFS and Highmark Bluecross BlueShield Delware are Philanthropy Delaware members. WSFS Financial Corp. announced the WSFS Foundation and the WSFS Community Foundation merger to form the WSFS Cares Foundation. 

    The WSFS Foundation, founded in 2003, was the philanthropic arm of WSFS Financial Corporation, while the WSFS Community Foundation, previously the Beneficial Bank Foundation, was founded in 2007 and joined WSFS as part of the acquisition of Beneficial Bank.

    Combining these two foundations will allow WSFS to provide even greater support to the Communities throughout the Bank’s footprint. The WSFS Cares Foundation will focus on supporting local nonprofits that provide tools for success, with its key pillars of support as follows:

    • Community investments
    • Affordable housing
    • Revitalization and business economic empowerment
    • Education and leadership development
    • Strengthening those in need

    “For nearly 200 years, WSFS has been deeply rooted in the communities we serve,” said Rodger Levenson, WSFS’s CEO. “The formation of the WSFS Cares Foundation will further enhance our efforts to improve our communities and to promote inclusion and diversity. We look forward to supporting a variety of initiatives aligned with our foundation’s pillars.”

    In 2020, the WSFS Community Foundation provided $300,000 in grants to 21 local nonprofits engaged in the fight against Covid-19, WSFS Bank, and the WSFS Community Foundation donated $35,500 to provide hundreds of technology devices to area students online learning during the pandemic. In addition, the foundations continued planned initiatives throughout the Greater Philadelphia and Delaware region, totaling more than $1.6 million in grants.

  • June 15, 2021 5:13 PM | Philanthropy Delaware (Administrator)

    (June 15, 2021 by Holly Quinn M&T Bank is a Philanthropy Delaware Member. MagnusCards uses a digital card deck to help people with banking, shopping and public transportation. It's the latest in an ongoing diversity and inclusion push from the bank with a major local presence.

    M&T Bank, a major finance-sector presence in Delaware, is launching MagnusCards by Magnusmode, a free app dedicated to accessibility for the cognitive and intellectual disability communities. It will be the first U.S bank to use the digitized “card decks” that guide users through tasks they find challenging through storytelling.

    Called its “life skills library,” M&T provides practical guidance through the card decks to help customers navigate daily tasks like using a debit card or making an ATM transaction, using applied behavior analysis methods and positive reinforcement to support experiential learning. In addition to banking tasks, the app also provides accessibility support for public transportation, shopping, healthcare, school and other everyday settings. The app can assist people with autism, Down syndrome, acquired brain injury, dementia and ADHD, among other cognitive disabilities.

    “Confusing or complex services can create barriers for people with autism and other cognitive disabilities,” said Magnusmode founder and President Nadia Hamilton in a statement. “Our assistive technology helps companies eliminate those barriers and welcome, support and enable people on the autism or disability spectrums.”

    The partnership came about thanks to the advocacy of M&T’s Disability Advocacy Network (DAN), an employee-led group that advocates for the needs of people with disabilities. The group identified MagnusCards as a potential opportunity for the bank, and guided its implementation and launch, working with M&T’s technology team, along with disabled members of the M&T community and their families.

    “The Disability Advocacy Network wanted real people involved. We didn’t want actors, but people who would directly benefit from our collaboration with Magnusmode,” said DAN member Stephanie Tisdale, a VP and strategic initiatives lead at M&T, whose 17-year old brother, Diarllo, participated in the implementation. “My brother is never one to be the center of attention, but when he heard it would help people, he was all over it. It was inspiring to see Diarllo contribute to something so important. I want my brother to have the opportunity to live independently, to be able to access the services he needs and to feel like he belongs.”

    The new partnership is part of M&T’s ongoing push, which launched in earnest in 2019, to improve diversity and inclusion, both within the company and the communities it serves. The bank also partners with Delaware-based The Precisionists, which helps to prepare people with autism for jobs. Last November, through a partnership with YWCA Delaware, it hosted “How to Be an Antiracist” author Dr. Ibram X. Kendi in a virtual event. At the base of its D&I efforts is listening to the marginalized people within the organization, M&T Chief Diversity Officer Glenn Jackson told at the time.

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