"We need to step up and invest in people and organizations that can perform, and the new leadership at CDU showed that the University was ready to perform."
Wendy Garen leads one of LA County's best-known philanthropies, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, which focuses on supporting nonprofit and community benefit organizations throughout Los Angeles County in four areas: health, education, human services and civic and cultural experiences. Within these four areas, Parsons looks for entities that improve circumstances for disadvantaged families.
With over two decades at Parsons, Ms. Garen has been very familiar with CDU and its history. CDU had applied to Parsons unsuccessfully for funding in 1986, 2002 and 2006. Then, a grant request in 2012 for an upgrade to the central security system was approved. The reason for CDU's success this time was the stability of CDU and the vision of new President, Dr. David M. Carlisle. "We need to step up and invest in people and organizations that can perform," says Ms. Garen, "and the new leadership at CDU at that time showed that the University was ready to perform."
CDU also showed the University was ready to meet Parsons' rigorous grant review process. "These are investments, not charity donations," says Ms. Garen. "It's not just Parsons, but all philanthropic organizations are looking closely at grant applicants. We meet with and interview leadership and boards of directors. We want to determine how well run the organization is. We want to know, ‘Are their business practices fundamentally sound?'"
Parsons also includes the community in its thorough grant review. "Their perspective is very important," emphasizes Ms. Garen. "We want to engage the community, and we welcome the opportunity to get to know them and the nonprofits seeking to use Parsons' support to help their communities."
She said that Parsons is proud to help contribute to the renaissance in South Los Angeles by supporting CDU. "With the new Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Hospital and the resurgence and newfound strength of Charles R. Drew University, we have institutions that honor the great leaders after which they are named," she says. "We're proud of them and look forward to what they'll do in the future."
* * *
The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation was established in 1961 by the founder of the Ralph M. Parsons Company, a renowned global firm specializing in engineering and construction. In 1976, the Foundation became fully independent from the company, in which it now has no financial interests. Today, the Foundation and Parsons Corporation are completely separate entities and share only Mr. Parsons' name. The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation strives to support the work of L.A. County's best nonprofit organizations, recognizing that communities thrive when all individuals are able to access the resources they need to feel safe, stable, and engaged. http://rmpf.org/
"We feel it's important to support organizations that are making a difference in the community,"
says Maxie Juzang, CEO and President of Healthcare Staffing Professionals (HSP), a Reseda-based firm that recruits and places individuals in healthcare, information technology, administrative and finance disciplines nationwide.
Mr. Juzang has made a point of instilling that social consciousness into his business, and the people who work for him. "When we hire people, we want to build a team for the long haul," he says. "I believe that, beyond the profit motive, we need to have a higher purpose. Supporting a great cause helps people want to come to work. It brings people together in a way that's more than simply providing staffing to other organizations."
How did CDU come to be one of those causes? HSP has been involved with CDU for about 4 years. Mr. Juzang says he went to Jazz at Drew about 15 years ago, but got involved more recently through his many connections with "friends of CDU," such as LA County Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and The California Endowment president Dr. Robert K. Ross. There was also another factor: "We're in healthcare," he says," so we see the lack of diversity in many of our premier healthcare institutions. And specifically, we see that African Americans are underrepresented." With its mission of eliminating health disparities and bringing more students from communities of color into the health professions, he deemed CDU was a good fit for HSP.
Mr. Juzang says he was sold on CDU after being led around campus by President and CEO Dr. David M. Carlisle. "It was a heckuva tour," he says. "You see the school's history, and you hear his commitment and passion for the under-represented communities, it's amazing. Everyone I've met on the leadership team at CDU has the same passion. They're very impressive, so it's been easy for us to support the University."
"Every time I leave there, I feel good. It rejuvenates the spirit," he says. "It's been an honor to play a small part in supporting CDU."
* * *
Healthcare Staffing Professionals (HSP) is a national staffing firm headquartered in Reseda, California, that finds the right people for healthcare organizations so they can deliver quality patient care. They provide clinical, information technology, administrative and finance personnel. HSP was built from the ground up and prides itself on its integrity, work ethic, teamwork and ability to give back to the communities that it serves through its community outreach and sponsorship programs. HSP also has offices in Woodland Hills, California; Houston, Texas; and Raleigh, North Carolina. http://www.hsp-inc.com/
"The first two organizations I wanted to work with were Watts Health Foundation and CDU, not only because of their leadership in community health and wellness but also because of the University's reputation as an academic institution."
Though CDU has been partnering with Comerica Bank since about 2012, Don Kincey's familiarity with CDU goes back 49 years. A native of Compton, he experienced the Watts Rebellion in 1965 first-hand and returned to the community after graduating college in 1969 when glimmers of hope began to appear in the area. "Watts Health Foundation and Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center were becoming very important community institutions," he says. "They made an impression on everyone." After serving as a commercial lender with several major banks, Mr. Kincey joined Watts Health Foundation in 1979, where he volunteered and worked for two decades, first as Board Treasurer and later as vice president of development and health center administrator. In 1999 he was introduced to Comerica Bank by the Watts Health Foundation to help implement a strategic initiative in South Los Angeles to invest in underserved communities such as Watts and Willowbrook. "The first two organizations I wanted to work with were Watts Health Foundation and CDU," Mr. Kincey says, "not only because of their leadership in community health and wellness but also because of the University's reputation as an academic institution."
Even though Comerica Bank has a progressive outlook on community investment, it is a business bank, and as such, Mr. Kincey looks for three primary competencies when considering nonprofit organizations to support. "First, and most important, social competency," he says. "valuing cultural differences, leadership in the community, and a positive reputation. Second, economic competency. We need stability and a good financial track record. And third, political competency. Does the organization have political champions who can assist it in navigating difficult legislative issues that impact its ability to serve the community?" CDU checked all the boxes as a good relationship and investment opportunity. As a result, the partnership with Comerica Bank continues to grow.
"It's a core value of Comerica Bank to treat everyone like an asset, not a liability. We believe that we can invest in communities, in institutions that serve under-resourced communities, and that our investment will have a measurable positive impact," says Mr. Kincey.
* * *
Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA) is a financial services company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and strategically aligned by three business segments: The Business Bank, The Retail Bank, and Wealth Management. Comerica focuses on relationships, and helping people and businesses be successful. In addition to Texas, Comerica Bank locations can be found in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan, with select businesses operating in several other states, as well as in Canada and Mexico. Comerica was also named one of America's Most JUST Companies in 2018, according to Forbes and JUST Capital, a nonprofit that ranks the largest publicly-traded corporations in the United States on the issues Americans care about most. Comerica was included for outperforming its peers on issues like fair pay and good benefits, customer treatment and privacy, beneficial products, environmental impact, job creation, community support in the U.S. and abroad, as well as ethical leadership and long-term financial growth. https://www.comerica.com/