JPMorgan sending team to boost Detroit nonprofits

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

JPMorgan Chase & Co., which launched a $100 million, five-year grant and loan program to aid Detroit earlier this year, said Monday it is starting a new five-year program that sends teams of employees from around the world to the Motor City to help strengthen the city's nonprofits.

Dubbed the "Detroit Service Corps," company employees will use their expertise to help nonprofit organizations address the city's economic challenges.

The bank joins a growing class of Detroit business leaders, foundations and nonprofits who contend they are working on a new model of how private capital can help Detroit rebound.

"Detroit's been a product of really poor urban planning," Mayor Mike Duggan said during a Monday announcement at the nonprofit Focus: HOPE. He cited freeways that wiped out neighborhoods and major planned developments "that never came" as examples of those damaging policies.

JPMorgan Chase employees will support projects at Eastern Market, Focus: HOPE, Michigan Community Resources and Vanguard Community Development Corporation — all local organizations supporting low- and middle-income communities.

"The expertise of our employees around the world is JPMorgan Chase's most valuable resource, and we are proud to put that to work supporting Detroit's economic recovery," said John Donnelly, head of the bank's human resources.

The initial Detroit Service Corps is made up of 12 JPMorgan Chase employees from around the world, including New York, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Mumbai and Hong Kong.

"Over the next five years, JPMorgan Chase will send additional teams of employees to Detroit annually whose expertise aligns with the needs of Detroit's nonprofit community," the company said.

At Eastern Market, employees will work alongside market staff and wholesale food distributors to develop a model for a new "Regional Wholesale Produce Market." JPMorgan Chase employees will examine best practices by other regional wholesale market facilities in the U.S. and provide a detailed assessment of how Detroit might build and operate a similar market.

At Focus: HOPE, JPMorgan employees will help create an assessment method for human resources.

"JPMorgan Chase has been a longtime supporter of Focus: HOPE. In fact, Focus: HOPE opened its first bank account with Chase 46 years ago," said William F. Jones Jr., CEO of Focus: HOPE.

The program will also assist Michigan Community Resources to market Detroit's neighborhood commercial corridors.

The program will also aid Vanguard Community Development Corp. and help establish a viable business model for the organization "to acquire, rehab and sell homes in Detroit's North End."

About a year ago, JPMorgan Chase reached a landmark $13 billion settlement with the Justice Department regarding the sales of low-quality mortgage-backed securities that collapsed in value during the 2008 financial crisis.

The settlement is the largest ever reached between the government and a corporation. The nation's biggest bank agreed to pay more than $6 billion to compensate investors, pay $4 billion to help struggling homeowners and pay the remainder as a fine.

JPMorgan has said most of its mortgage-backed securities came from Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual Inc., troubled companies that JPMorgan acquired in 2008.

JPMorgan's $100 million aid package to Detroit is separate from that landmark settlement.