Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Wisconsin’s banks have redoubled their efforts to support their communities. As an industry, banks have always been the cornerstone of the villages, towns, and cities they serve, but the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19 provided extra motivation to help. WBA has collected stories from many member banks about their community support efforts. While there aren’t enough pages to show them all, we hope the sampling below demonstrates their dedication.

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Berlin 

Fortifi Bank announced that they will award $1,000 COVID Relief Grants to 20 non-profit organizations in May. Together with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (FHLBC), this money is intended to assist groups with the financial strain presented by COVID-19. “We are lucky to have such a strong partner with aligned values to accommodate this relief program,” stated Greg Lundberg, president of Fortifi Bank. “Together, we will be able to help 20 non-profit organizations who are undoubtedly struggling as the effects of COVID are rampant.” 


Cross Plains

State Bank of Cross Plains (SBCP) has disbursed $20,000 in Relief Grants to five nonprofit organizations with missions aimed at helping communities cope with economic uncertainty due to COVID-19 by providing humanitarian support in various forms. The five nonprofits equally sharing these funds include: Waunakee Neighborhood Connection Corp.; Mount Horeb Community Foundation; Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM); Home of Our Own Inc. in New Glarus; and Community Action Inc. of Rock and Walworth Counties in Beloit. State Bank of Cross Plains applied for and received the grant funding through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s COVID-19 Relief Grant Program for members to use in support of small businesses and/or nonprofit organizations affected by the pandemic.


Denmark

The Board of Directors of Denmark State Bank has approved donations totaling $100,000 in support of local food pantries and other non-profit organizations dedicated to those who have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of $62,500 has already been distributed in each of the bank's markets. “Community is at the heart of who we are,” stated Scot Thompson, CEO and President of Denmark State Bank, “with a history that spans over 110 years, we’ve survived a lot of ups and downs, but we come together in support of one another and are grateful that we are able to provide some support during this crisis.” Additionally, in an effort to both recognize essential workers and support local businesses, the bank partnered with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago to distribute $20,000 in meals and gift cards to essential workers in the communities it serves.


Fond du Lac

National Exchange Bank & Trust, in partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, is proud to announce a $10,000 grant to ADVOCAP of Fond du Lac and a $10,000 grant to The Arc of Fond du Lac as these two pillars of community support continue to serve the needs of our communities during this health crisis. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago is offering a COVID-19 Relief Program to support all its member institutions and the communities they serve as they respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic. ADVOCAP is a non-profit community action agency (CAA) serving Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Winnebago Counties with a mission to create opportunities for people and communities to reduce poverty and increase self-sufficiency. The Arc is a human service organization that empowers adults and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities to become independent and integrated into the community through advocacy, education, training and support. The Arc provides services to families and individuals with disabilities living in Fond du Lac, Dodge, and Winnebago Counties.


Green Bay 

Associated Bank announced a $300,000 commitment to support COVID-19 recovery efforts in its three-state footprint. The company will donate $150,000 to local United Way chapters in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota to fund community-based programs and support services that provide basic needs. A commitment of $50,000 each will be provided to the Give to MKE Responds Fund, the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, and the Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund (MDRF) to assist with housing and small business relief efforts. 


Madison 

Wisconsin Bank & Trust is proud to announce it will commit $100,000 to support six local community initiatives related to Wisconsin’s COVID-19 crisis. The Wisconsin-based bank will make significant contributions to the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County: Dane County COVID-19 Emergency Fund, Greater Green Bay Community Foundation: Emergency Response Fund, Greater Milwaukee Foundation: MKE Responds Fund, Green County Emergency Medical Service, Sheboygan County Food Bank: Sheboygan County Hunger Relief Food Fund, and the University of Wisconsin - Platteville: Pioneers Helping Pioneers Fund. 

Capitol Bank sponsored lunch on Wednesday, April 22 for 175 essential healthcare workers at the neighboring SSM Health Dean Medical Group – North High Point Road Location. In response, SSM Health workers invited Capitol Bankers out into the parking lot and held a “Thank You” sign from the roof of the clinic (pictured below). The large lunch order provided support to five area restaurants, and thank you notes from Capitol Bank were included for the SSM Health employees. 

Old National Bank is joining #GivingTuesdayNow in a global day of giving and unity and responding to meet the needs of communities by committing $1.2 million for COVID-19 relief. In Wisconsin, ONB is donating $77,840 to Wisconsin non-profit organizations. An additional $8,840 was redeployed from local event sponsorships to straight donations to five other Dane County non-profit organizations who canceled events due to COVID-19. “Old National has a long history of community commitment, and we are pleased to support our communities in this urgent time of need,” said Kevin Anderson, market president. “These organizations are providing such valuable services in our communities, and we are pleased to partner with them and assist those who need it most.” 


Marshfield 

The team at Forward Bank, Insurance and Investment Services has come together to work non-stop to help customers and communities find the best relief options for the impact COVID-19 has on businesses and families. “We all stand together in helping our communities,” commented Bill Sennholz, CEO of Forward Bank. “That is why Forward is giving each of our employees $120 gift cards and certificates for their choice of local restaurants to be used now for takeout or later when we can gather at these businesses. We want this infusion of over $20,000 into the local economy to be the next step in helping small businesses, like many of our customer owners, survive until we return to normal.” 


Manitowoc 

Investors Community Bank recently launched a special program to feed frontline health care workers in Manitowoc County and support the bank’s restaurant customers. Employees at Aurora Two Rivers and Holy Family Memorial received meals courtesy of ICB as part of the bank’s Fueling the Frontline initiative (pictured below). The purpose of this initiative is two-fold: to thank those essential employees who are working in the health care field during this pandemic and to support restaurant customers by placing takeout orders. On Thursday, April 23 Aurora received 160 meals from Spudz, Waterfront Wine Bar, and Dairy Queen, and on Friday, April 24, Holy Family Memorial received 250 meals from Luigis, Pack’er Inn, and Perkins.

Bank First is pleased to announce they recently purchased $100,000 in gift cards from over 140 restaurants located within their footprint. The bank will be donating the gift cards back to local families, non-profit organizations, and businesses through various programs once the Safer-At-Home restrictions are lifted. “We strongly believe that as a community bank, we have a social responsibility and moral obligation to meet the financial needs of the communities we serve, whether that is through providing innovative products and services that are value driven or giving back to those in need,” said Mike Molepske, chief executive officer at Bank First. “Purchasing gift cards from our restaurant customers not only helps them get through this challenging time, but also allows us to put food on the table for hundreds of families in the communities we serve.” In addition to purchasing gift cards, Bank First is also buying lunch for its employees weekly from local restaurants impacted by COVID-19. 


Monona

Monona Bank announced it will donate $82,300 to 15 area food pantries and four other Madison-area non-profits who are working to assist our neighbors in need during the COVID-19 crisis. The donation was made possible through the bank’s “Strength in Neighbors” campaign which was initiated by a $20,000 grant the bank received from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s (FHLB Chicago) COVID-19 Relief Program. “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in requests for COVID-19 assistance, specifically asking for help in providing meals for area residents,” Paul Hoffmann, President & CEO of Monona Bank, said. “As a locally-owned community bank with close ties to many non-profits in our communities, we are in a unique position to notice the needs facing our communities quickly,” Hoffmann added. “Monona Bank knew they needed to get involved, especially since we believe we are only truly successful when the communities we serve prosper.” Hoffmann and the Monona Bank Board of Directors quickly decided to create a “Strength in Neighbors” campaign to help our neighbors survive the COVID-19 crisis. Monona Bank increased its total contribution to $82,300 through a combination of bank, board, and employee contributions. The hardest part for the bank was deciding where to donate the grants due to the numerous worthy requests the bank had received for assistance.


New London 

Through its partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, First State Bank recently received a $20,000 COVID-19 Relief Grant to support non-profit organizations who have been impacted by the pandemic. The bank has chosen to distribute the funds to 13 food pantries throughout its market area for the purchase of Wisconsin-produced dairy products. “By designating these funds for the purchase of cheese, milk, and other Wisconsin dairy products, these dollars can benefit not only families in need but our local dairy producers as well,” commented First State Bank Vice President of Marketing Brenda Hansen. “We are grateful to the Federal Home Loan Bank for making this grant opportunity available.” 


Oconomowoc 

Bank Five Nine has partnered with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago to provide two local organizations with $10,000 grants to assist them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two organizations receiving grants are the Oconomowoc Food Pantry and the Lake Area Free Clinic. The mission of the Oconomowoc Food Pantry is to provide food items to individuals and families in need who reside within the Oconomowoc Area School District. The Lake Area Free Clinic welcomes families and individuals who lack health insurance and whose income is below 250% of the federal poverty level. 


Waukesha 

Waukesha State Bank, in partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, is offering 20 $1,000 grants to Waukesha County non-profits for use in COVID-19 relief efforts. “Waukesha State Bank, as one of the largest independent, community banks in the state of Wisconsin, has a mission to serve and strengthen our local communities,” stated Stephanie Ohlfs, Waukesha State Bank vice president – marketing manager. “In the midst of COVID-19, our support is needed more than ever, and we are proud to partner with the FHLB Chicago to offer these much-needed grants to our local non-profits.” 


Wauwatosa 

WaterStone Bank has donated $20,000 to local organizations in need due to COVID-19. The bank donated $5,000 to four separate organizations: Hunger Task Force, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Lift for the 22, Inc. & the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce, and the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office. “WaterStone Bank has always strongly believed in giving back to the local community. During these challenging times, we felt even more compelled to help,” said WaterStone Bank President & CEO Doug Gordon. “We are pleased to further support our local food banks, first responders and our veterans who are in need during this time.” 

In addition, WaterStone Bank has contributed $10,000 to the Waukesha County Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. To help support increased need, the Waukesha County Community Foundation (WCCF) has identified agencies that are working locally and county-wide to ensure food access during the COVID-19 pandemic. WCCF launched an online crowdfunding opportunity to support 13 participating organizations, all of which are food pantries or other nonprofits providing meals during the pandemic. Individuals who are interested in donating can visit www.waukeshafoundation.org/covid to make a difference right in their own community. WaterStone Bank’s contribution was split equally among all 13 charities benefiting from the WCCF’s crowdfunding opportunity. Since the campaign was launched, WCCF has raised $41,250 to support food access in Waukesha County.