While numbers alone don’t tell the story of the social impact of corporate giving, they do offer a snapshot of progress.

In its first year of operation, ScotiaRISE, Scotiabank’s 10-year, $500-million initiative to support economic resilience in disadvantaged groups, committed close to $26 million to support more than 200 community partners, according to its Social Impact Report released this week. (Check out our Year One of ScotiaRISE infographic for more on the numbers.)

As well, feedback from partner organizations showed there were more than 358,000 moments of support given to people in need. For example, while a woman may turn to Dress for Success to be fitted for a business suit to go on a job interview, she can also benefit from the tools provided to help her through the hiring process including career coaching, resumé writing, and how to interview, as well as receive support for career advancement.

The idea behind ScotiaRISE — which stems from the Bank’s core purpose for every future — is to give disadvantaged individuals, families and communities the support they need to become economically resilient by helping them adapt to change, overcome barriers, and fully participate in the economy, Karen Soos, Director, Community Investment, Social Impact at Scotiabank, says. Charities it has supported since its launch in 2021 range from YMCA Alternative Suspension, which turns school suspensions into opportunities to help vulnerable youth, to Windmill Microlending, which helps women newcomers obtain their professional re-accreditation.

When choosing ScotiaRISE investments, Soos noted that the Bank strategically invests in a diverse range of charities across its operational footprint; from national and international organizations, to local, grassroots charities. This diversified approach enables ScotiaRISE to support organizations with different capacities, reach and impact.

Each investment is aligned with ScotiaRISE’s three areas, or pillars, of focus:

  • Increasing high school graduation and post-secondary participation.
  •  Removing barriers to getting hired and career advancement
  • Helping newcomers feel at home faster by helping them navigate their new circumstances and improving their chances of employability.

“Our research told us these were the areas that had the greatest need and that resonated most strongly with our employees and with our external stakeholders,” Soos said.

One of the things the Bank has done is look at existing community partnerships and organizations to ensure the programs we support are working towards improving economic inclusion and resilience.  “The goal is to create a network of partners, new and that we’ve been supporting for awhile, who are working toward our collective social change goal,” Soos said.

The Bank’s long-time relationship with Habitat Humanity Canada, a charity focused on affordable housing is a good example of where ScotiaRISE was able to continue to support it through The Every Youth Initiative, a program focused on engaging youth in building trades, she noted.

While the Bank identified the aforementioned three pillars to launch ScotiaRISE, Soos said there will be more incidents that occur in society that highlight other emerging issues of our time.

“We envision that as time goes on, the way in which we look at economic resilience and how we can best support helping individuals achieve economic resilience might be different, so we’ve built this model to be flexible enough to enable that yet be clear and strong in its intent,” she said.

To learn more about the charities ScotiaRISE has supported, check out these Perspectives stories: