BOK Financial Corporation will contribute $1 million as part of its efforts in support of COVID-19 relief. The company will direct donations to programs addressing food insecurity and re-employment of laid off and furloughed restaurant and hospitality workers.
The contribution is the centerpiece of the company's COVID-19 response, which also includes assistance for its clients and employees.
"The amount of need is unprecedented during this crisis, and we are proud to support local nonprofit organizations that are on the front lines delivering services to our communities' most vulnerable citizens," said Steve Bradshaw, president and CEO of BOK Financial®.
Half of the funds will be distributed in Tulsa, where BOK Financial is headquartered, with $450,000 going to Hunger Free Oklahoma's Tulsa Kitchens Unite fund, which will employ furloughed and laid-off restaurant industry workers to prepare and help distribute 425,000 meals in 12 weeks to Tulsa-area at-risk populations. An additional $50,000 will go to Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma's food pantry, which has been providing groceries to more than 300 families per day since the crisis began.
The remaining $500,000 will be distributed to programs providing support for food insecurity and re-employment of service industry workers in BOK Financial markets across eight states.
- Bank of Oklahoma is supporting the Ending Hunger OKC program in Oklahoma City with a $50,000 donation through the St. Luke's United Methodist Church Foundation. The group is distributing 20,000 servings of fresh produce weekly plus partnering with local restaurants to prepare and distribute 4,400 meals each week.
- In Colorado, BOK Financial will donate $100,000 to support the Colorado Restaurant Response program through Colorado Succeeds. The program is working to keep restaurant workers employed preparing ready-to-eat, nutritious meals for hunger relief groups, including Denver Metro Emergency Food Network.
- Bank of Texas will support the Get Shift Done program in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston through $100,000 donations to both the Community Foundation of Texas and Greater Houston Community Foundations. Get Shift Done employs displaced hospitality employees to prepare and deliver meals through nonprofits that support food insecure communities.
- In Kansas City, BOK Financial will donate $50,000 to Operation Restaurant Relief, which is providing stipends to restaurants to help them maintain operational expenses, provide payroll for shift workers and the ingredients for meals to support thousands of food-insecure people across the metro area.
- In Arizona, BOK Financial will contribute $50,000 to the Foundation for Senior Living in support of homebound meal service and grocery delivery for 2,500 seniors.
- Bank of Albuquerque is donating $30,000 to the Feeding Families Fund through the United Way of Central New Mexico to provide a safety net for nonprofits supporting food insecure families and local restaurants.
- In Arkansas, BOK Financial will give $20,000 to the Root Cellar Pantry to deliver food to clients who have lost jobs, partner with restaurants to offer drive-through meal pickup and expand operating hours to better serve food-insecure families.
"We're proud to support these programs that are supporting the community and helping service industry workers earn a wage and keep food on their families' tables during this time of crisis," said Bradshaw. "With these additional community support dollars, we expect to be able to bring our planned 2020 donations to nearly $7 million to benefit outstanding organizations serving our communities."
Meeting client needs
Throughout the crisis, BOK Financial employees have been working nearly around the clock to serve client needs, including processing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications. The bank began accepting applications on April 3, the day the Small Business Administration opened its portal, and in less than two weeks, was able to secure $1.8 billion in funding for clients.
"I am so proud of our people and the effort they put in to get these funds to the businesses who desperately need the help right now," Bradshaw said.
In addition, the company is offering assistance to individuals, mortgage customers and commercial clients. Financial relief is being offered through temporary changes to fees related to excessive withdrawals, overdraft protection fees and late fees.
"We have teams of experts who are partnering with clients to help navigate these trying times," said Derek Martin, BOK Financial consumer banking services executive. "Many employees have been redeployed to support business functions that are in high demand, including mortgage refinancing and PPP loan applications. We are working hard to support our clients in a variety of ways."
Bankers' new normal
As an essential service, banks have had to find new ways to conduct business. Most bank employees are working from home. Banking centers are largely limited to drive-thru services; mortgage loans are being closed over video chat. The bank has taken steps to address the current environment, including:
- Employees who secured alternative childcare while kids are out of school are eligible for a temporary nontaxable reimbursement for backup childcare expenses.
- Knowing that all employees may not be able to secure consistent, alternative childcare, up to 40 hours of miscellaneous paid time off has been granted to employees.
- In an effort to provide access to medical care while reducing risk of exposure to COVID-19, BOK Financial eliminated employee costs to access telemedicine.
"Our team has quickly adapted to this temporary new normal and still maintained the same outstanding level of service for our clients," Bradshaw said. "We will continue to adjust as the situation evolves, and we'll remain focused on our employees, our clients and our communities with each decision we make."