“The most impactful programs meet people where they are and recognize there’s a variety of needs people have depending on where they’re coming from that contribute to their situation,” she said. “The Floating Hospital doesn’t just address the medical piece – it’s the workshops, health education, transportation – and all the things that go into helping the whole person that’s so powerful. There’s an interconnectedness: If you have a problem in one area, it can affect multiple areas – there’s a ripple effect.”
She said at Bank of America, local community relations teams are empowered to focus on the issues they see are most prevalent, and “in a city of 8.5 million, that’s the needs of individuals and families – making sure they have healthcare, food on the table, a quality education, a safe place to live and a living-wage job … we take a look at how we can help people not just live with dignity, but thrive.”
Ms. Harvey said the bank’s local foray into the healthcare space mirrors how it administers its other philanthropy: As the environment changes, so does the focus. When the bank sees a need to bolster community assets such as small businesses, the availability of green spaces, access to quality education and arts and culture, “We can be responsive in our giving to what’s going on at a given time.”
And this is where keeping the lines of communication open helps. In addition to virtual events, BofA conducts a community roundtable each year to hear from its boots-on-the-ground partners about what they are seeing and experiencing, while also giving them a chance to hear and learn from each other.
“Our decisions on where we can help have the most impact are being made in response to conversations with our partners. It’s very much about continual conversations with [those] on the front line to know the needs. We share your trials and tribulations, as well as the bright spots,” she said.
Floating Hospital President and general counsel Sean T. Granahan, who had a seat at that table, said he was pleased to see a large corporate bank be involved with direct service to individuals and families.
“So often large corporations have lofty goals like solving poverty, and don’t understand how important it is to give directly to people,” he said. “Our partners at Bank of America really understand what is needed on the ground and that our patient families need relief in the moment as well as help with their greater trajectory.”