The pandemic’s uneven economic toll has highlighted the need to remove barriers that persist for some groups while increasing opportunities for all to participate in, and strengthen, the economy going forward.
With the goal of fostering economic inclusion and resiliency among disadvantaged groups, Scotiabank has launched ScotiaRISE, a 10-year initiative with a $500-million commitment.
This program seeks to make a meaningful impact in communities throughout the Bank’s footprint by making investments that help people improve their education and employment prospects, adapt to changing circumstances, and increase the likelihood of financial success.
“We know that we can only be as successful as the societies in which we operate, and when there are individuals and communities that feel left out, we cannot be strong,” said Brian Porter, President and CEO of Scotiabank. “Over the next decade, ScotiaRISE aims to increase access to opportunities for all of our geographies across the Americas, to create more inclusive, resilient communities for every future.”
ScotiaRISE will focus on three pillars: Increasing high school completion, helping newcomers to feel at home faster, and removing barriers to career advancement. For example, ScotiaRISE will support programs and partner with organizations that will help increase high school graduation rates and post-secondary enrolment, in turn boosting employment prospects and the ability to thrive and succeed. As part of its efforts to boost economic inclusion, ScotiaRISE will seek to help newcomers secure meaningful employment and contribute to the economy at their fullest potential.
“We see so many people who have such potential here in Canada,” said Meigan Terry, Senior Vice President, Global Communications, Social Impact & Sustainability. “But because they don’t have the right accreditations or because their experiences don’t translate as well in the Canadian market they’re not able to contribute at their best, which would ultimately raise the whole economy.”
The third priority for ScotiaRISE will be to remove barriers to career advancement for disadvantaged or underrepresented groups which could include for example, women, people of colour, people living with disabilities, and others.
As the name suggests, ScotiaRISE is about helping everyone reach their highest ambitions, which benefits the community as a whole, said Terry, who is also chair of the Bank’s Community Investment committee.
“This is really about giving equal access to getting on the economic ladder and participating in the economy and being able to continue to move up and contribute. For us, ScotiaRISE is very symbolic. Everyone rising together, so no one’s left behind.”
Some of the Bank’s recent partnerships with organizations in the community were formed with economic resilience in mind.
For example, in September Scotiabank announced a $600,000 donation to Indspire, Canada’s largest Indigenous-led and Indigenous-focused charity, to support increased educational attainment and economic prosperity for First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth.
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And in May 2020, Scotiabank supported Windmill Microlending, a charity that provides small loans to more than 1,000 immigrant professionals every year to help them get retraining and certifications needed to work in their field in Canada. The Bank’s $100,000 donation helped support the reaccreditation of foreign-trained healthcare workers, who were then deployed to help the Canadian healthcare system in its battle against COVID-19.
While ScotiaRISE’s launch seems very timely, economic resilience — which means enabling individuals, households and communities to adapt to a range of circumstances – and economic inclusion were areas that the Bank felt were important even before the pandemic hit, Terry said.
After research with employees and customers, these emerged as the areas where the Bank could have the most impact, while also being intrinsically tied to the day-to-day function and expertise of the organization.
The Bank has long been a strong supporter of local initiatives in all the communities in which it operates. But focusing its efforts on these key areas through ScotiaRISE will amplify the social impact and deliver actual change, Terry said.
This is also the first time Scotiabank has made such a long-term commitment to a community investment program.
“We are not here for the short term. We are really building and we see our role in it, in our DNA, to build for the generations ahead of us,” Terry said. “If we want to be true to that through our social impact programs we also have to be committed to build for a longer period of time.”
Existing donations will not be impacted, but Scotiabank is working toward committing more than 50% of its community investment to programs that support economic resilience.
“If we can invest bigger, in fewer programs all directed towards the same cause, we know we will have a much more meaningful, measurable, pride-building impact on the communities around us,” Terry said.