Making a difference takes many shapes for Santander Consumer, volunteers

Woman in a tiny house making a difference
Valerie Ballard of Operation Tiny House at EarthX expo in Dallas.

Promoting volunteer work among 5,000-plus Associates is one way Santander Consumer USA (SC) shows its community spirit.

And SC Associates have embraced the opportunity.

That has resulted in about 20,000 hours of service since SC’s Volunteer Paid Time Off (VPTO) program began, helping organizations such as City Year Denver, Meals on Wheels and the North Texas Food Bank.

But SC is making a difference in other important ways through the Santander Consumer USA Inc. Foundation. In the first quarter of the year, the Foundation provided $644,000 in grants to community organizations in Texas, Arizona and Colorado, where the auto lender’s business operations are located.

“The work that Santander is doing in our communities is meaningful and will have significant impact for underserved populations,” said Suzanne Massey, vice president of the foundation.

Sometimes, as in the case of EarthX 2019, a recent environmental awareness and sustainability exposition at Fair Park in Dallas, the two come together, with SC Foundation contributing $50,000 to the event and 74 Associates, many from the internal audit group, volunteering to work there.

Santander volunteer helping EarthX visitor
A volunteer from Santander Consumer USA guides an EarthX visitor.

SC also provided booth space to another grant recipient, Operation Tiny House, which helps homeless military veterans by building special veteran-only tiny home communities.

The largest SC Foundation grant recipients so far this year are Build US Hope-Phoenix (Arizona) and Operation Tiny House (Dallas-Fort Worth), each of which received $100,000 in funding; UNT Bridge Program (DFW), $85,000; Boys and Girls Clubs of Denver (Colorado), $84,000; Seeds to STEM (DFW), $75,000, and Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley (Mesa, Arizona), $60,000. Four other community organizations received grants ranging from $20,000 to $30,000.

As with the VPTO program, SC Foundation grants provide help to real people in the community.

Operation Tiny House, for example, plans to use its grant funding to build and finish three tiny homes along with trailer foundations. SC Foundation’s contribution to Build US Hope-Phoenix also will provide materials to build three tiny homes for veterans in that city.

“We’ve seen an increase annually in the number of homeless veterans in need,” said Valerie Ballard, executive director of Operation Tiny House. “This grant will help us provide both transitional and permanent housing for such veterans … [and] a community partner willing to support our mission.”

Tiny house at EarthX
Operation Tiny House display supported by Santander Consumer USA.

Here is what some of the other grants will provide:

  • Room, board, food, textbooks, mentor services and programming for students in the UNT Bridge Program at the University of North Texas for former foster care recipients.
  • Help for low-income and at-risk high school students in learning real-life money management skills, such as reading paychecks, budgeting, saving, investing, credit and debt through the Boys and Girls Club’s Money Matters program in Denver.
  • After School Adventures programming and operating support for Seeds to STEM for 250 minority scholars from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade in Dallas.

“Our community investments go to provide economic mobility for those most in need,” said Massey. “Grants are distributed in the communities in which we live and work and allow us to connect more closely with our communities. We extend the Foundation’s impact by encouraging all Associates to use VPTO benefits with grantee and other non-profit organizations.”

Making a difference for the community – from school children to homeless veterans – takes many shapes for Santander Consumer USA Inc. Foundation and volunteers.

And both have embraced the opportunity.

Santander volunteer with other earthlings at EarthX
Fellow earthlings huddle up before beginning their EarthX volunteer duties.

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