Originally founded as a food pantry in a Central Dallas strip mall, CitySquare has grown into an expansive nonprofit that comprehensively addresses chronic poverty.
Touching the lives of 56,000 Texans every year, CitySquare provides social services to its "neighbors" so they can break the cycle and live empowered, healthy lives. From mentoring to medical respite housing to legal help to mobile meal programs, CitySquare's wrap-around services offer participants, whom they call "neighbors," a support system as they work to overcome poverty.
TC Alexander, community development relationship manager at Bank of Texas, believes CitySquare's holistic approach leads to more sustainable change. "To help people get out of poverty, you can't just treat one part of a person's life and neglect the rest," said Alexander. "If they're working on getting their dream job or certification, but they're not healthy or don't have a stable place to stay, it won't work. CitySquare helps minimize the risk for setbacks."
A shared mission
Among the many programs offered by CitySquare, Bank of Texas found a natural fit with CitySquare's workforce and financial empowerment programs, including the Women's Workforce Readiness Initiative.
More than one in 10 single mothers in Southern Dallas are unemployed, often because they can't access childcare. The Women's Workforce Readiness Initiative aims to change that for its 550 participants. The program, with financial support from Bank of Texas and the BOKF Foundation, provides the technical and soft-skills training needed to secure employment in high-growth industries.
Women in the program also receive access to housing, transportation and childcare, as well as food and nutrition support. By providing holistic services that care for the whole person, CitySquare believes the program will help more women enter and stay in the workforce, ending the cycle of poverty for their families.
"We are more than just a bank, and we want to make sure that we're positively impacting the community in which we work and live," said Gilbert Gerst, community development manager for BOK Financial®. "CitySquare is a great partner to us because together we can help individuals and communities rise through our workforce development investments."
Community support for individual empowerment
Other Bank of Texas-supported CitySquare workforce development programs provide financial empowerment through employment services, income support and financial coaching. Volunteers help participants move into self-sufficiency by teaching basic financial literacy skills, including personal banking, financing a car or home, paying off debt, and more.
"We are a growing region, and we need all of our community members to thrive. It's the right thing to do and the smart thing to do," said Bank of Texas Dallas Market President Mandy Austin. "CitySquare is unique in that they invest their resources into the building blocks of individuals' health, financial stability, food services, housing and workforce training. They have the whole package."
CitySquare has been a long-time client of Bank of Texas. In addition to board service, volunteering and supply drives, Bank of Texas has invested in the organization's Workforce Development Financial Empowerment Program and the Transition Resource Action Center, which supports youth aging out of foster care.
“CitySquare offers a safety net to ensure a whole population is not lost.”- Gilbert Gerst, community development manager
Learn more about community involvement in the Bank of Texas Community Report.