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03 Feb. 2016 | Comments (0)

In the second part of our series of case studies from our new report, Better Together: Why a United Front Can Propel Diversity and Inclusion and Corporate Philanthropy in the United States, we look at KeyBank's grant-making process, and how diversity and inclusion impacts its decisions.

Most corporations are guided by a set or core principles or values. Using such values to strengthen grant making can ensure that a company’s philanthropy targets the issues and initiatives that make best use of corporate resources. At the KeyBank Foundation, that means diversity and inclusion is high on the agenda.

The KeyBank Foundation’s mission is to support organizations and programs that prepare individuals for thriving futures. It is advanced through two funding priorities:

  • Thriving students Grants provide students with opportunities to prepare for fulfilling careers through access to high-quality education and support for their academic success. The focus of grant outcomes is on academic success through preparation, access, attainment, retention, and completion (graduation).
  • Thriving workforce Grants equip adults with the necessary skills, education and capabilities to meet current and future local employment demands. The focus of grant outcomes is on graduation, employment, and financial education.

Underpinning these priorities is a set of core values. All KeyBank Foundation grant making adheres to, and takes into consideration, how grantees incorporate these values:

  • Diversity and inclusion (D&I) KeyBank Foundation grants are made to organizations that practice a culture of inclusion among board, staff, and those they serve.
  • Transformation With community partners, KeyBank Foundation designs innovative programs and approaches that solve community needs and then back those programs with philanthropic investment.
  • Measurable impact Grantee reporting to the Foundation is rigorous and demonstrates social return on philanthropic investment through measurement of program performance.
  • Sustainability KeyBank Foundation considers the root causes of problems, takes a long-term view of the current situation, and implements plans to incorporate a broader social vision to catalyze change that endures.

These values stem from a wider culture at KeyBank that strives to integrate D&I into everything the company does, a long-standing commitment that was magnified 15 years ago when Margot Copeland was appointed chair and CEO of the KeyBank Foundation and chief diversity officer, a position from which she stepped down in 2013.

During Copeland’s tenure and still today, the chief diversity officer sits on the executive council of KeyBank, giving the function direct access to the CEO and fulfilling an important strategic role in CEO Beth Mooney’s vision for inclusion.

Copeland says: “As a corporate foundation and a corporation, you determine how you want to operate. Once you make that decision, you can frame how you want to carry out the work.” One of KeyBank’s flagship programs is the Ohio State University (OSU) Minority MBA Case Competition, which brings approximately 80 minority students a year from 20 different schools to the college to compete. The program has been supplemented with a leadership symposium at the Fisher Business School to further develop the business acumen of these budding minority business leaders.

Having reached nearly 700 students since its inception in 2005, the program has achieved a number of things for the students, the college, and KeyBank, including:

  • Giving minority students the chance to engage in a competitive process to gain workforce experience
  • Helping OSU and the Fisher Business School become a recognized breeding ground for the country’s future business leaders
  • Sourcing diverse talent for KeyBank

Supporting D&I within the nonprofit sector

Using D&I as a lens through which to support the community helps KeyBank Foundation create social impact by not only funding effective projects, but also by building effective organizations that respect and nurture D&I. When looking at diversity-focused grantees, KeyBank Foundation doesn’t just look at the constituents that organizations serve, but also at the organizations themselves, including diversity among staff and the board, which is an important factor as the philanthropy industry seeks to diversify on both the grantee and recipient side.

About the Council Perspective

Better Together: Why a United Front Can Propel Diversity and Inclusion and Corporate Philanthropy in the United States explores how and why companies are increasingly integrating the diversity and inclusion, and corporate philanthropy functions. The report provides a range of examples of management approaches to achieve effective collaboration—from restructuring teams and business units to individual initiatives that encourage awareness, collaboration, and cohesion. Members of The Conference Board can download the report for free here

  • About the Author:Alex Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson is Principal of Parky Communications, a communications agency specializing in sustainability and CSR reporting and communications. He serves as the Co-Leader of The Conference Board Cor…

    Full Bio | More from Alex Parkinson


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