CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jamie Gwaltney | The Charlotte Observer) - Local students will have backpacks full of free school supplies thanks in part to a $15,000 grant given to Classroom Central from Wells Fargo on Friday.
The grant is just a portion of the $5 million Wells Fargo is giving out through 200 grants to nonprofit organizations around the Charlotte area.
The announcement came at the kickoff for Wells Fargo's seventh annual Day of Caring: a 24-hour period the first weekend in June when Wells Fargo employees volunteer across the region.
This isn't the first time Classroom Central has received money from Wells Fargo. Executive Director Karen Calder said Wells Fargo has been working with them since Classroom Central started in 2002.
"We have a long-standing relationship with Wells Fargo and they have been supporting us every year for the past 15 years," Calder said. "So they were one of our founding partners."
With 50 percent of children living in poverty in the Charlotte area, Classroom Central provides free school supplies to low-income schools. So far, they've given away $52 million in school supplies. Calder said they want to be able to provide more support to local teachers and this grant will help them accomplish that goal.
"We are actually even expanding our mobile effort this year from six schools in CMS to 15, so every little bit helps," Calder said.
Kendall Alley, the Wells Fargo regional president for Charlotte, said over the seven years of Day of Caring, Wells Fargo completed 750,000 volunteer hours and has donated $50 million.
Alley said the 200 grants go to organizations that have requested funding and a group reviews these requests to decide how to distribute the money. He said they take into account how the organization impacts the community and how many people they serve, along with who Wells Fargo employees support.
"If you're going to live in a community, why not make it the strongest you can possibly make it," Alley said.
But these grants don't just have value for the organizations that receive them – Wells Fargo employees benefit as well, said Kristi Thomas, a community relations consultant for Wells Fargo.
She said employees are not required to volunteer, but are encouraged to give back by earning paid time off during volunteer hours. Thomas said volunteering helps employees pursue personal passions.
"We try and match up community needs with our team members' skills, put those together to get them out and connect them with the community," Thomas said.
Other organizations receiving grants from Wells Fargo: