DENVER (June 19, 2020)
CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, today announced it will commit $500,000 from its corporate social responsibility program to civil rights organizations dedicated to promoting racial equity and ending discrimination.
The board of directors unanimously approved the contribution at a special meeting on Wednesday, June 17. Money will be directed to four national organizations with proven records of accomplishment in the area of civil rights, as well as to establish two funds that will be directed by CoBank employees.
“We have all experienced the national outpouring of grief and anger in recent weeks about the persistent problem of race discrimination in America,” said Kevin Riel, chair of the CoBank board of directors. “Our board believes that CoBank has an opportunity to be part of the solution and that we should seize that opportunity. We look forward to working with each of these highly credible organizations to promote civil rights and social justice.”
CoBank’s $500,000 commitment will be implemented as follows:
- $100,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Founded in 1940, the fund is the nation’s oldest civil and human rights law organization, with a mission to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society.
- $100,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative. EJI is a private, nonprofit organization working to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality.
- $100,000 to the Advancement Project. Established in 1999, the Advancement Project National Office is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization focused on public education, criminal justice, voting rights and related issues.
- $100,000 to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The mission of the fund is to provide support for America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). CoBank’s contribution will be specifically directed to support scholarships for students pursuing careers in agriculture and related fields.
- $50,000 employee matching fund. The bank will provide a 100% match for all contributions by its employees to nonprofit organizations working in the areas of civil rights and social justice.
- $50,000 Associate Resource Group fund. The bank will set aside $50,000 to be directed by its Associate Resource Groups (ARGs), which were established to enable employees across the bank to come together and share experiences while also providing feedback and perspective to bank leadership. ARGs are a critical component of the bank’s broader diversity and inclusion strategy, which includes recruiting, retention, training, leadership development, employee engagement and corporate philanthropy programs. CoBank has ARGs for African-American, young professionals, Asian, Hispanic, veteran & military families, LGBTQ, women, and men employees, along with a Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council composed of division leaders from across the enterprise.
“The George Floyd tragedy in Minneapolis has created a widely shared moment of moral clarity for Americans of all races about the need to end discrimination in all of its ugly manifestations,” said Thomas Halverson, president and chief executive officer. “Personally, I have been overwhelmed by the depth of feeling that has been expressed on this issue, particularly from our employees. I greatly appreciate the generosity of the board and its willingness to commit resources from the bank to help address racial discrimination and build a more inclusive society.”
CoBank is a $158 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving more than 70,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country.
CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture, rural infrastructure and rural communities. Headquartered outside Denver, Colorado, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and also maintains an international representative office in Singapore.