SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
Reading Help       Font Size  
Search
Get Email Updates
SAGE In the News


June 23, 2017

How Wells Fargo Has Been Helping LGBTQ Communities

The Advocate
By Staff
Wells Fargo’s support for the LGBTQ community has been unwavering for more than three decades. The company has scored a perfect 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for each of the last 14 years. The financial institution’s pioneering efforts have helped model the definition of inclusivity and acceptance in the workplace.

In 1987, five years before HRC established its Corporate Equality Index, Wells Fargo added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy and became one of the first large companies to protect its lesbian, bisexual, and gay team members. Then in 2004, the company extended protections to cover gender identity, affirming Wells Fargo’s commitment to those who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming.

But the company hasn’t stopped its support at internal policy making. Wells Fargo has donated more than $50 million and countless volunteer hours to both local and national organizations that service LGBTQ communities. In collaboration with organizations such as The Trevor Project, which provides LGBTQ youth with a lifeline of support; SAGE, which supports LGBTQ elders; Point Foundation, which grants scholarships to LGBTQ young people; and GLSEN, which creates safe spaces for LGBTQ youth in schools, Wells Fargo has made a huge difference. With its continued support of organizations that serve as pillars for LGBTQ people young and old, Wells Fargo demonstrates the importance of standing together to move the community forward.

The Advocate spoke with a few of Wells Fargo’s partners to discuss the importance of community support. Here’s what they had to say:

Can we go around and each say when Wells Fargo started supporting your group?

SAGE: Wells Fargo has been a supporter of SAGE’s special events since 2011.

Point Foundation: Wells Fargo has supported Point Foundation for approximately 10 years.

GLSEN: Wells Fargo first began investing in our work to create safe and LGBTQ-inclusive schools in 2003.

How do you choose your brand partners?

SAGE: SAGE seeks partners who are deeply committed to our older LGBTQ community with a vested interest in LGBTQ aging. We value partners who want to engage along a spectrum of opportunities, including employee engagement and financial support.  

What does Point look for?

Point Foundation: The companies and organizations we partner with are committed to education, the advancement of local youth, and fostering greater diversity and inclusion.  Often, after first being a sponsor of a local Point event or program, companies, organizations and even individuals look to deepen their commitment to helping LGBTQ students by funding a four-year scholarship, or even a scholarship endowed in perpetuity.

And what does GLSEN value in corporate partners?

GLSEN: We are eager to work with corporate partners that support and demonstrate inclusive values. As an education organization, we value learning and are committed to working with partners to find meaningful ways to effectively support GLSEN's work. 

Have you partnered with Wells Fargo to produce any recent events?

SAGE: Last year, SAGE was fortunate to receive programmatic support from the Wells Fargo housing foundation. Funding from the foundation encourages the development of more LGBTQ elder housing. It supports capacity building and technical assistance to local providers and policy makers in communities nationwide. 

That’s amazing. What about at Point?

Point Foundation: In 2016, with pioneering support from Wells Fargo, Point launched its Community College Scholarship, which helps young LGBTQ people pay for school.

And GLSEN?

GLSEN: At the beginning of this school year, Wells Fargo's support directly provided 5,000 elementary school educators with our free ‘Ready, Set, Respect’ toolkit to help stop bullying and discrimination in thousands of classrooms nationwide. This adds to what Wells Fargo helped us accomplish in 2016: putting our Safe Space Kits in every middle and high school in America.

SAGE, what do you see as the importance of these events to the LGBTQ community?

SAGE: Having a corporate leader like Wells Fargo as a partner substantiates and elevates the importance of our work. 

And, how is it important for Point?

Point Foundation: By continuing to invest in education via Point Foundation scholarships and programs, Wells Fargo is helping to empower LGBTQ individuals and communities.

From your perspective as a nonprofit dedicated to LGBTQ equality, does visible, public support from well-known partners like Wells Fargo impact the work you do?

SAGE: Support from corporations like Wells Fargo elevates the issues facing our LGBTQ elders and raises the visibility of LGBTQ aging.

In what ways?

For SAGE as an organization, such partnerships allow us to leverage this visibility to attract more interest and support. It builds our capacity and impacts other areas of our work, such as the Pride campaign.

Partnerships like the one we have forged with Wells Fargo help to promote our mission and to shed light on the vibrancies and challenges experienced by our LGBTQ older adults in a way that SAGE cannot achieve alone.

Has the Wells Fargo brand helped Point Foundation find more support?

Point Foundation: Of course. LGBTQ students, particularly those from low-income families, immigrants, and people of color, often feel alone as they try to navigate a path to higher education. Having one of the largest financial services companies in the world as a steadfast supporter of Point scholarships and leadership development programs sends a powerful message to LGBTQ young people. It says to them that there are many people in society who are their allies and want them to succeed.

Has that been true for GLSEN?

GLSEN: Yes. Wells Fargo’s incredible support has enabled GLSEN to support students in starting student-led GSA clubs, advocating for comprehensive anti-discrimination policies, and providing educators inclusive resources. Wells Fargo partners with us to create safe and inclusive schools for all students – providing funds to deliver resources and training to students and educators, visibility to help GLSEN reach parents and community leaders, and recognition that LGBTQ students, like all students, deserve safe and inclusive schools in which to thrive. This benefits both individual youth and our larger communities.

What gains do you hope to make regarding LGBTQ equality, representation, or awareness with support from partners like Wells Fargo?

SAGE: Given some of the rollbacks of LGBTQ protections that we are seeing at the federal level, LGBTQ-affirming policies and support from the corporate sector is more important than ever. The corporate sector will once again pave the way for LGBTQ inclusion and acceptance.

Wells Fargo is proud of its longstanding commitment to our LGBTQ community. And they’re not shying away from that commitment. Wells Fargo’s upcoming Pride campaign, “Standing Together,” features SAGE’s work and will be promoted in an effort that will appear on ATMs, in banks, and on the Wells Fargo website. Wells Fargo is only featuring a few organizations, which other than SAGE, are focused on serving youth. That’s why it means so much to have SAGE and our LGBTQ elders so prominently featured.

What progress is GLSEN striving for with help from partners like Wells Fargo?

GLSEN: In the past ten years, National School Climate Survey has benchmarked that students in schools with interventions—supportive educators, comprehensive policies, inclusive curriculum, and student clubs—report higher self-esteem, miss less school days, and have higher GPAs. The continued financial support from partners like the Wells Fargo Foundation, and others, will enable GLSEN to bring this work to every single one of the 132,000 K-12 schools nationwide. 

What do you see as the greatest obstacles to achieving these gains?

GLSEN: Although we've seen great progress, there is renewed opposition proposing hundreds of anti-LGBTQ policies and laws in school districts, cities and states across the country. It will require all GLSEN's partners (and some new ones) to defeat these hateful efforts— from the local school in Kansas banning a same gender couple from prom to a state like Texas, which is currently trying to pass discriminatory legislation banning equal access to school facilities for transgender students. 

How will Wells Fargo’s investment in young people affect the future of equality?

Point Foundation: To become the next generation of leaders in all professions, LGBTQ young people need to get their higher education degrees. While most students today struggle with the cost of college, LGBTQ students also face additional challenges including harassment, lack of family support, and institutional apathy to the needs of trans and genderqueer students.

So, you’re able to provide more than financial support?

Point Foundation: With support from partners such as Wells Fargo, Point provides LGBTQ students the opportunity to take part in programs and events that connect them with a supportive and empowering national network of fellow Point Scholars and Alumni. 

As political tides have shifted, is there a renewed sense of need for nonprofits and their organizations’ partners to strengthen their commitment to LGBTQ causes?

SAGE: Yes. Companies, through their employees and LGBTQ employee resource groups, are emerging with a renewed sense of mission, purpose, and energy. Here at SAGE, for the first time, corporations are proactively reaching out to us and asking how they can get involved.  

How has that played out in recent months within your organization?

Point Foundation: As an empathetic community of volunteers, staff, and scholarship recipients, we are more united than ever to take a stand against discrimination. Everyone at Point is dedicated to empowering a new generation of LGBTQ leaders with the capacity to bring about a future free from divisive and harmful actions. Our expanding network of Point Scholars and Alumni has always been driven to make the world a better place for all.  Since the election, they are especially fired up to effect progressive change in society, and through our leadership development and community service programs we are helping them hone their advocacy skills.

Has GLSEN received similar support?

GLSEN: We’ve been incredibly fortunate and thankful for the many partners who have solidified and strengthened support as the heated political climate spilled over into communities and schools across the country. In times of distress, it's more important than ever that young people see school, community, and corporate leaders demonstrating safe and inclusive values, particularly when our political leaders use harmful bullying tactics or abandon policies supporting LGBTQ youth. 

What is your organization currently working on and how can the community get involved?

SAGE: SAGE recently unveiled a new five-year strategic plan focused on making a difference for 500,000 LGBTQ older people and catalyzing 500 LGBTQ and age-friendly communities. SAGE can excel at the delivery of impactful services and customer-driven programs; cross-generational community building; and promoting Local Office on Aging (LOA) age-friendly communities. To this end, by 2021, SAGE will enrich the lives of 500,000 diverse LGBTQ older adults across the nation, with special emphasis on 1) increasing by 50,000 the number of and diversity of at-risk LGBTQ older adults having access to LGBTQ competent and inclusive programs and services, and 2) making 500 communities more LGBTQ age-friendly. Partnerships with institutions and individuals alike will be central to achieving these goals. People can learn how to get involved at sageusa.org/give.

What about GLSEN?

In celebration of Pride, we’re inviting folks to join GLSEN in creating safe and inclusive schools for all by building community and resistance online at glsen.org/pride.

What about for Point Foundation?

Point Foundation: In June for Pride Month, we will announce our 2017-2018 class of Point Scholars, as well as our 2017-2018 Community College Scholarship recipients.  In the coming months, with the help of local host committees, we will hold cocktail receptions in cities around the U.S., where people can meet these Point scholarship recipients, as well as our alumni, and learn how they can help Point support the educational aspirations of these deserving LGBTQ students. 

Every Point Scholar is paired with a mentor, a prominent and caring LGBTQ or allied individual. We encourage people to apply to become mentors. Details about our upcoming events, scholarship program and how you can get involved with Point Foundation can be found on our website.

Wells Fargo's contributions to LGBTQ organizations, support of anti-bullying efforts, and embracing company culture demonstrates its unprecedented commitment to community building. To learn more about Wells Fargo’s commitment to the LGBT community and to view inspiring stories about the work they’re doing with these amazing organizations visit wellsfargo.com/standingtogether.

Read the original article online here.

Media Inquiries

Christina DaCosta
Director of Communications
917-553-3328
cdacosta@sageusa.org

Register for Email Updates
Email
Name
 
Follow Us






© 2012-2017 SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us | Web Site Feedback | Privacy Policy | Link Policy | Translate To: