Banks have done a lot to become less physically intimidating over the decades. The Doric stone edifices and teller cages have been replaced by floor-to-ceiling glass windows and roving universal bankers who work on a tablet. Some banks have even turned branches into coffeehouses. But for someone who has never had a bank account, a bank can still be an intimidating place. Financial products and … Continue reading High School Branches Pay Dividends for Banks and Students
If you tag along with Jeff Szyperski in Kilmarnock, Va., the first thing you notice is that he seems to know everyone he sees. Drivers roll down their car windows to yell hello. In a branch of Chesapeake Bank, he greets the customers in the teller line by name and asks them about their kids. And he knows the names of all 240 employees of … Continue reading Where Jeff Szyperski Knows Your Name
Viewed from Pitt and Barbara Hyde’s office perched on the bluffs of Memphis, the Mississippi River appears to meander lazily on its way. But appearances can deceive. The river’s smooth, muddy surface hides a powerful flow of more than 300,000 cubic feet each second, moving boats along at a rate of up to three miles per hour amid threatening eddies and undercurrents. Barbara and Pitt—winners … Continue reading Making Miracles in Memphis
Early in 2016, while tracing the history of U.S. savings banks for an article I was writing on their bicentennial, I was intrigued by the stories of two of the founders of the savings bank movement: Philadelphian Condy Raguet and Bostonian James Savage. Both were 32 when, in 1816, they founded the first American savings banks in their respective hometowns. In addition to their contributions … Continue reading Nine Young Bankers Who Changed America
Not long after he became chairman and CEO of First Horizon National Corporation in 2008, Bryan Jordan found himself at the doctor. The doctor asked him what he did for a living, and Jordan replied that he was a banker. “Who do you work for?” the physician asked. “I said I work for First Horizon, and I started explaining what I did and he let … Continue reading Eyes on the Horizon
A cool November day in 1816 Philadelphia found Condy Raguet strolling down Chestnut Street, reflecting on ideas he had just read about the “friendly societies” and mutually owned savings banks popping up all over Great Britain to promote thrift among the poor.
A handsome, well-traveled, well-read 32-year-old merchant, Raguet bumped into a few friends and asked if they had heard of the concept. “Would you unite with me,” he asked, “to establish one?” The friends—one of them a scion of Philadelphia’s wealthy Biddle family—had indeed heard of the savings-bank concept and wanted to cooperate with Raguet. They decided to call their new institution the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society. Continue reading “Blue-Collar Banking”
B. J. Cassin is no stranger to the idea that small investments can generate outsized results. That is the foundation of the venture capital industry—the business in which Cassin has earned his fortune over the last 35 years. So it is no surprise that Cassin’s next big move in K-12 education philanthropy will invest in carefully selected schools, educational entrepreneurs, and school networks with the intention of “transforming” faith-based and private schooling.
Cassin was one of the most important funders behind the growth of Chicago’s acclaimed Cristo Rey Jesuit High School from a single site in 2000 to a network of 28 high schools in 18 states and D.C. today (with more on the way). These Catholic schools now serve 9,000 students per year, the vast majority of them racial or ethnic minorities from low-income homes. With its innovative work-study model of four students sharing a job at a company, the network is affordable for families and fiscally sustainable. In 2014, all of its graduates were accepted to college.
Now Cassin is seeking to amplify this success. Continue reading “Stronger Together”
When you think of parks, whether Yosemite or your corner playground, you probably think of them as quintessentially public institutions—as the Ken Burns documentary puts it, “America’s best idea.” And while parks are indeed public institutions, a great many owe their existence, growth, and endurance to the generosity of creative donors. Continue reading “Nature Philanthropy”
This is why we can’t have nice things, New Yorkers might have muttered when they heard the news: Bill de Blasio, a shoo-in to be elected mayor next month, supports a plan to gut one of New York City’s most successful policy innovations of the past three decades.
That innovation is Central Park, the crown jewel of America’s urban parks. De Blasio made headlines when it was revealed that he supports a plan to redistribute money from Central Park’s operating budget to other, smaller parks throughout the city.
That may sound innocuous, but take a closer look. It would be one thing if de Blasio was proposing to move money around within the city’s $380 million parks and recreation budget. Instead, de Blasio has endorsed a plan to raid the assets of the private nonprofit group that runs Central Park. Continue reading “Would-Be NYC Mayor Would Gut Central Park”
On November 8, 2006, Dick DeVos woke up with nothing to do. The day before, he had lost the election for Governor of Michigan. “If you’re not elected, you’ve basically cleared your entire schedule for the foreseeable future,” he chuckles. “You’ve got time on your hands to reflect on, ‘What should I be doing?’”
It wasn’t a feeling DeVos was used to. The former CEO of the multi-billion-dollar direct-selling firm Amway and head of the Orlando Magic NBA team, DeVos had also been involved in civic activities, including serving on the State Board of Education and on numerous non-profit boards. He was a mentor with Kids Hope, a charitable group in his native Grand Rapids. Continue reading “Fly High”