Sunrise Banks is a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) that promotes financial inclusion and economic development among poorer communities. With a local focus, CDFIs like Sunrise Banks seek out those communities that are underserved by the traditional banking sector. CDFIs often have a focus on social responsibility and inclusion rather than a pure profit motive and may receive support from the federal government’s CDFI Fund.

Foundations like Sundance Family Foundation that hold assets in Sunrise Banks, and other CDFIs, provide the capital needed to impact development in our communities. Below is an example of the type of results this produces.

Tree Trust Sunrise Banks

CDFI Loans to Tree Trust Impacted Youth Job Readiness

Sunrise Banks CDFI loans supported Tree Trust as a critical juncture. For more than four decades, Tree Trust has been working to solve two persistent societal problems: unemployment and the degradation of our natural habitat.

The St. Paul-based nonprofit provides employment and job training while also planting trees around the state to enhance Minnesota’s urban canopy. Tree Trust has roughly 600 job-readiness participants and also planted 3,430 trees in 2019.

Rolf Svendsen and Don Willeke started Tree Trust in 1976 in response to Dutch elm disease, a fungal disease that has caused major devastation to elm trees in Minnesota. Svendsen and Willeke figured they could solve for another problem along the way: the high unemployment rate. Data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve shows that Minnesota had a 5.6% jobless rate in 1976 when they started. Then as now, unemployment in low income communities and communities of color has consistently been 4-6 times higher than the state average..

“Our forestry department has planted trees with volunteers from Ada to Ely to Winona and all points in between, but we mostly concentrate our efforts on the Metro,” said Tree Trust Director of Community Forestry Karen Zumach.

Tree Trust’s job readiness programs provide training, internships and paid opportunities for young people who face barriers to employment. It’s a way to give them confidence and hands-on work experience.

“Through hands-on training and connection, the lives of the youth and young adults are transformed, helping them to build brighter futures in our community,” said Tree Trust Executive Director and CEO Jared Smith.

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