With few exceptions, banks in the United States all fund the same things. Driven by meeting regulatory tests that give them the license to operate and grow, they race to find innovative ways to reach low- to moderate-income (LMI) populations. As a result, the top ten banks by assets all fund economic development programs like affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and financial literacy. Only one, PNC, lists Arts & Culture as a giving priority, and only two, PNC and Capital One, fund early childhood development and education.
That made the TD Bank Group’s announcement two years ago of the Ready Commitment, a $750 million philanthropic platform aimed at catalyzing inclusion in a changing world, welcome news—especially since focus areas went beyond financial security, to include the environment, good health and a connected communities umbrella of shared experiences, arts and culture, and local belonging. In 2018, its first year of grantmaking focused on the future of work. In its second year it turned its attention to reshaping the future of healthcare.
TD Bank Group
The TD Bank Group, or TD, is the banner under which the Toronto-Dominion Bank and its global subsidiaries fly. With assets of $1.4 trillion in Canadian dollars, its 85,000 employees provide service to more than 26 million clients around the world through three key businesses: retail banking operations in Canada and the U.S., and wholesale banking including securities. In the U.S., Forbes gave TD the final spot on its ranking of the 10 biggest banks in America, citing assets of $223 billion.
The Ready Commitment
In 2018, TD announced a 12-year, total $750 million ($1 billion CAD) initiative to help catalyze an inclusive and sustainable future by investing in four focus areas: Financial Security, a Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health. Applications for the North American initiative are accepted annually, and judged by a panel of TD executives and “external subject matter experts” in two rounds.
TD Ready Challenge 2018
Each year, the TD Group challenges non-profits to provide innovative solutions to a problem statement it issues within its focus areas. In its inaugural year, the TD Ready Challenge focused on preparing workers for the future, awarding ten of the 200 applicants with one-time grants of $750,000 each. Six of the organizations were based in Canada. The four U.S. initiatives included the Public Health Management Corporation in Pennsylvania’s efforts to create income security though technology, and Byte Back Ready’s work helping career-changers in Baltimore participate in the digital economy. As with all of TD’s U.S. giving, the organizations operate within the bank’s footprint.
TD Ready Challenge 2019
The 2019 challenge focused on creating more equitable healthcare outcomes, based on the “clear link” it found between financial and physical health. TD accepted proposals from organizations that were working to provide early access to detection and interventions. Specifically, it focused on preventative efforts aimed at solving specific health problems for underserved and remote populations in Canada, and low to moderate income populations in the U.S.
The challenge attracted double the pool of applicants in its second year, growing from 200 to 400. As with the first round of awards, the geographical breakdown was 60/40, in favor of Canadian-based organizations.
The four American recipients include the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Growing Resilience in Teens (GRIT) program, which provides clinic-based screening for children and families who fall victim to violence and trauma. In New York City, funding will allow the Fund for Public Health in NYC expand its Quickie Lab model of providing sexual health services regardless of immigration or insurance status. In Western Massachusetts, the Baystate Health Foundation support funds a TD Bank-Baystate Health Bus, a mobile clinic that provides early detection screenings and treatment referrals. Funding for the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, NY, will help establish a dedicated facility to advance breakthroughs in tumor response research. All four received the same investments as last year: one-time grants of $750,000.
TD Ready Challenge 2020
The 2020 Challenge will invite eligible non-profits to offer solutions to a third problem statement tied to one of the platform’s four drivers of change. On timing, the submission portal opened in the summer months during the program’s first two years. Semi-finalists were notified by early October, and final decisions were reached by mid-November. Follow the TD Ready Challenge for developments.