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Stephanie Monroe and Dennis Hoffman of Volunteers of America, Dakotas, give Amanda Clark and Amange Aware of Wells Fargo Commercial Banking a tour of the organization’s new Sioux Falls, South Dakota, facility for homeless youth. (2:50)

In Sioux Falls, a second chance for homeless youth

For Volunteers of America, Dakotas, to accomplish its mission to uplift its community’s most vulnerable residents, the organization often relies on its 30-year relationship with Wells Fargo for guidance and support.

When Volunteers of America, Dakotas, opens its new HomePlace facility to serve and house homeless youth in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, next spring, it will represent another important resource the nonprofit has provided the people of South Dakota since its founding in 1920.

A photo of a busy city street. A graphic reads, “Homelessness in South Dakota increased from 2010-2016 by 46% — the second largest increase in any state during that time.”

“What we’ve learned over the last several years in Sioux Falls is that there is a significant challenge of homelessness among children,” said Dennis Hoffman, president and CEO of Volunteers of America, Dakotas. “Last school year, there were over 1,200 children in the community that experienced homelessness.”

“Wells Fargo is not only providing banking support to Volunteers of America, Dakotas, we’re showing our commitment to the community of Sioux Falls through the $50,000 gift from the Wells Fargo Foundation.”

— Amange Aware

Helping its community’s most vulnerable and finding solutions to societal problems, like homelessness, has been at the core of the faith-based organization’s mission for the past century.

Fulfilling this mission and delivering tangible change, however, can often carry a steep price tag. For the new 21-resident youth facility, that cost is $3.5 million, which the organization has sought to fund through a public capital campaign. Fortunately, it has also been able to rely on its 30-year relationship with Wells Fargo for both a $50,000 grant to the campaign and a $1 million bridge loan to cover construction costs as it awaits additional contributions.

“As a nonprofit, our funding sources can be a little bit capricious, and we sometimes find ourselves with headwinds and financials don’t look as healthy as we would like,” said Hoffman. “The real measure of our collaboration with Wells Fargo is how we get through that period of time and set a path forward to make things improve and come out at the end with both improved financials and a deep, strong relationship.”

A photo of cars and city buildings. A graphic reads, “There are 334 individuals experiencing homelessness on a given night in Sioux Falls, including 53 children or young adults.”

The housing affordability crisis — which is most severely reflected by homelessness — is a critical national issue that Wells Fargo is harnessing its philanthropic power to help solve.

“This project has the opportunity to make a real difference for countless young people struggling to find their footing,” said Amange Aware, head of Wells Fargo Commercial Banking in South Dakota. “Wells Fargo is not only providing banking support to Volunteers of America, Dakotas, we’re showing our commitment to the community of Sioux Falls through the $50,000 gift from the Wells Fargo Foundation.”

Supporting organizations that strengthen our communities

The value of the relationship between Volunteers of America, Dakotas, and Wells Fargo proved even more apparent after the organization recently opened a request-for-proposals process to reevaluate its banking options, said Hoffman. And when the Wells Fargo team proved the top choice once again, he admittedly wasn’t too surprised.

A large building under construction.
When completed in spring 2020, the new $3.5 million facility will house 21 homeless youth in a therapeutic setting.

“In going through the RFP process for our banking relationship, we found that Wells Fargo had an absolutely great array of products and services,” Hoffman said. “Yet, perhaps the most important thing we look at is the execution. We know that if we’ve had a 30-year relationship with somebody, most things have likely gone well — but we also measure how do we deal with each other and how do we collaborate with each other when things aren’t going so well. And that, frankly, is the most important reason we’re likely to stay with Well Fargo for many, many years to come.”

Today, the relationship between Volunteers of America, Dakotas, and Wells  Fargo is deeper than ever, said Aware. “We touch every aspect of their business needs, from basic banking and depository accounts to complex treasury mnagement and credit.”

“Nonprofits really depend on their bank to be trusted financial advisors to be there, to watch over that relationship, and to help them navigate some of those tough times that they have,” said Aware. “And it’s inevitable that all nonprofits end up running through that at some time, and to have a bank that they trust, that’s what really brings the value to them.”

Contributors: Hector Batista
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