Category Archives: Charity

Biltmore Bank of Arizona bankers make it rain at the 10th Annual Paul’s Pay It Forward Car Wash

Did you get a chance to have your Biltmore banker wash your car? Last month, Todd Leveen, Nathaniel Spatz, Lisa Friedman, Bryan Ellisor and Desirae Outcalt traded in their business attire for some casual duds and suds.

It was all for a good cause when we volunteered for the second time at the Annual Paul’s Pay It Forward Car Wash to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona (BBBSCA). After volunteering, our team presented a $2,500 check to BBBSCA from The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, live on air with KPHO news.

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Now in its tenth year, the event, which ran for five days in October, raised well over $300,000. The funds help BBBSCA take more kids off its waiting list and match them with caring volunteer mentors in the Valley. Over 300 boys and girls are currently waiting to be matched with a big brother or big sister, and some will wait up to three years.

Besides having a great time for a fantastic cause, this event was personal for Desirae Outcalt, Vice President and Relationship Manager at The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, who was paired with a “Big Sister” when she was young.

“I grew up very poor with a single mom,” said Desirae. “My Big Sister, Shawn, was an accountant at a car dealership. The two years I spent with her were very educational, and she helped shaped me into who I am today.”

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Desirae and the rest of our staff who participated in the car wash were fortunate to witness the largest personal cash donation ever made at the event. The majority of donations come from businesses, but one individual felt passionate enough about BBBSCA to donate $1,000. In addition, the Big Brothers Big Sisters Donation Center was on site to collect donations of clothing and household items. All donated items are sold through thrift stores, with the proceeds supporting operations at BBBSCA.

Our staff got a big kick out of washing not one but two Ural-4320s, a vehicle originally designed for the Russian Army for transporting cargo, people and trailers on all types of roads and terrain.

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Paul’s Pay It Forward Car Wash is over (until next year), but you can still make a difference for BBBSCA by donating clothes, time and/or money. To learn more, visit bbbsaz.org.

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Grandpoint Bank donates $10,000 to U.S. Vets

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Members of our Grandpoint Bank family, which includes the Biltmore Bank of Arizona, recently toured the Long Beach campus of U.S. Vets, an organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families make a successful transition to civilian life by providing housing, counseling, career development and comprehensive support. Our visit included the presentation of a $10,000 donation to the organization.

According to U.S. Vets, about 50,000 vets in our nation are homeless – men and women who have served valiantly for our country and now find themselves sleeping on the streets.

“Beyond the essentials, what I saw during our visit is that U.S. Vets is giving veterans back their self-respect,” says Darlene Esquerra, Senior Vice President & Community Development Office of Grandpoint Bank. “Everyone is treated with kindness by staff members and volunteers, who, in many cases, have had the same experiences as the veterans.”

U.S. Vets is the largest organization of its kind addressing the needs of homeless and at-risk veterans and their families in the U.S. Their Long Beach facility is located on 25 acres of former Naval housing and offers a variety of permanent and transitional housing – including a building for women veterans with up to two children and housing for homeless vets — dining facilities, community center, clinic, classrooms, recreational facilities and even an urban forest where residents can pick fruits and vegetables.

“Grandpoint Bank’s support of our programs across Southern California makes it possible for us to fill the gaps and really meet the unique needs of each one of the veterans we serve,” said Laney Kapgan, Vice President of Development and Communications for U.S. Vets. “With more service men and women coming home than ever before, this investment will help us continue to expand not only housing but also key employment and mental health programs for our veterans.”

Grandpoint was introduced to U.S. Vets through our Executive Vice President and CCO Mark Phillips, who struck up a conversation with U.S. Vets National Director of Programs, Larry Williams, on an airplane. Mark was so impressed with the program, he referred the information for consideration as a Grandpoint Bank Community Reinvestment Act-qualified donation. The rest, as they say, is history.

You can find more information about U.S. Vets on their website usvetsinc.org.

As we observe Veteran’s Day this year, we’re proud to salute U.S. Vets for helping so many vets and their families, and we thank all the members of our armed services, past and present, for their dedication and selflessness.

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Jewish Tuition Organization: Funding Need-Based Scholarships for Private Jewish Day School Students

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Supporting our community is a top priority for The Biltmore Bank of Arizona. One way we do so is by contributing to The Jewish Tuition Organization (JTO). Our own Senior Vice President Todd Leveen was recently interviewed by Jewish News about the JTO and Biltmore Bank’s support of the organization. In our efforts to help both local businesses and the wonderful nonprofit organizations in our community, we wanted to provide you with more information about how JTO works and how student tuition organizations benefit kids all over our state.

As a registered student tuition organization, JTO provides need-based financial assistance to students wishing to attend a private Jewish day school.

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The program covers all our area’s Jewish schools, including:

  • Desert Jewish Academy
  • Pardes Jewish Day School
  • Phoenix Hebrew Academy
  • Shearim Torah High School for Girls
  • Torah Day School of Phoenix
  • Yeshiva High School of Arizona

Students do not have to be Jewish to attend the day schools, and all children in-need are eligible to receive financial assistance from JTO.

Arizona’s student tuition organizations, including JTO, were established to provide financial assistance to families that wish to send their child or children to private school and to provide tax credits through Arizona’s Private School Tuition Tax Credit Program for individuals and corporations contributing to scholarship funds.

The Arizona Department of Revenue has millions of dollars remaining before it reaches its cap for the 2017 corporate private school tax credit. JTO needs local corporations to help out.

“If you own or work for a company that files taxes as a C-Corp or S-Corp, you can make the difference,” said JTO Executive Director Linda Zell. “We really don’t know how long the money will be available, so there is a sense of urgency,” explained Zell.

The Arizona tax credit is dollar-for-dollar, with no maximum cap, however, S Corps must contribute a minimum of $5,000 to qualify for the credit. JTO makes the donation process as easy as possible, handling most of the administration with the Arizona Department of Revenue for its corporate donors.

“This is a benefit for the company, but it’s also a moral responsibility for any institution, whether it be commercial banking or otherwise, to give back to their community,” Todd said.

More than 90 percent of funds raised by JTO are contributed toward scholarships. “The JTO’s goal is to provide any child who wants to attend a Jewish day school the ability to attend one,” says Linda. “We don’t want to turn away any child, regardless of the family’s ability to pay for a Jewish education.”

To take advantage of the corporate tax credit and help children in the community attend Jewish day schools, contact the JTO office at 480.634.4926.

More information about student tuition organizations and a list of all Arizona private schools registered with the program, visit the State of Arizona’s Department of Revenue website.

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Supporting our Community with Some Green…Golf Greens, That Is!

Golf-Des1Over the last couple of months, we were honored to participate in two golf tournaments that raised money to support good causes in our Phoenix community and throughout our state.

The Arizona Bar Foundation’s Drive Fore Justice Golf Tournament happened on May 20th at the Moon Valley Country Club. Our bank’s Rich Endicott and Doug Metzger as well as two of our clients, Court Rich and Bill Harter, golfed alongside nearly 100 judges and lawyers in the Bar Foundation’s third annual golf tournament to support the Foundation’s mission of “promoting access to justice for all Arizonans.” We also contributed by sponsoring one of the tournament holes.

The Bar Foundation’s many programs include:

  • Modest Means Project – in partnership with the State Bar of Arizona, providing a low-cost, one-hour meeting with an attorney for people who don’t qualify for free legal service but cannot afford full-price rates.
  • Military/Veteran’s Legal Assistance Project – in partnership with the State Bar of Arizona and with support from the Arizona Supreme Court, providing legal assistance to active military and veterans.
  • Online Pro Bono Project –legal services provided by answering questions over legal help websites org, lawforseniors.org and azlawhelp.org.
  • Wills For Heroes Arizona – in partnership with the State Bar of Arizona and in affiliation with the Wills For Heroes Foundation, providing free estate planning legal services to Arizona’s first responder personnel.
  • Law-Related Education Programs – various opportunities to teach children in grades K- 12 about the law.

This foundation does important work to bring legal rights to all Arizona citizens and offer plenty of volunteer opportunities.  Check out the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education website to learn more.

In late April, we also took part in the Arizona Petroleum Marketers Association Foundation’s (APMA) 2017 Scholarship Golf Tournament at McCormick Ranch Golf Club. Since 2007, the Foundation, for one of the largest trade associations of its kind, has awarded over 60 scholarships, valued at over $300,000. Scholarships are awarded to APMA member companies’ employees and their children. According to their website, “In 2016, nine students received scholarships with a total value of $44,000….”

The Foundation has a long track record of commitment to education and support for members’ families. According to the APMA website, its members “supply billions of gallons of fuel and tons of related products annually to Arizonans. These businesses provide fuel and lubricants to the vast majority of commercial end users, including farmers, construction firms, and local and state governments.”

The Biltmore Bank of Arizona works with many local energy companies, providing a full array of banking services, and is proud to support this important part of the Arizona economy.

We had a great time lending our support by golfing, as well! Our bank’s Rich Endicott, Todd Leveen and Doug Metzger, as well as our client Bill Harter, made up our fabulous foursome at the scholarship tournament, and Biltmore sponsored one of the tournament holes as well. Biltmore banker Desirae Outcalt was also on hand to lend her support.

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Our Day at Junior Achievement’s “JA You’re Hired!” Event

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Imagine that you’re about to graduate from high school, but you’ve learned very little about how to land a job, including how to network, compose a resume, dress for an interview and much more. Most of us probably once found ourselves facing this exact scenario.

Lucky for them, some students get the preparation they need by participating in Junior Achievement’s JA You’re Hired! program. And fortunately for us, some of our team members from The Biltmore Bank of Arizona got to help those students develop the work-readiness skills required to transition from school into the work world.

The You’re Hired! program includes a rigorous, 10-session classroom curriculum led over several weeks by Junior Achievement volunteers, and it culminates in a half-day JA You’re Hired Challenge. This year’s Challenge, where our staff members Jeremy King, Desirae Outcalt, Darlene Esquerra, Todd Leveen, Bryan Ellisor and Nathaniel Spatz helped out, included more than 500 students from Phoenix-area high schools, all of whom had completed at least five of the ten preparatory classes.

The day began with a few schools participating in an interview workshop sponsored by The Biltmore Bank of Arizona. We asked the students questions similar to what someone interviewing for a teller or personal banker position with our bank would be asked. Career coaches guided the students through interview skills, like showing up early, making eye contact, shaking hands, researching the company in advance and more. Students who participated in this workshop had a definite advantage during the interview challenge later in the day.

Once all 500-plus students had arrived and convened in the large ballroom, they were tasked with a networking challenge. “A lot of the kids were quiet and shy coming off the buses, but they were running all over the room to meet people by the end of this challenge,” said Jeremy.

The students had one hour to meet as many of the 200 businesspeople volunteers as possible. Each had a bingo card with squares to fill in once they had met someone who met the criteria on the square – anything from someone who owns their own business to someone who speaks another language. The students were required to conduct themselves in a business-like fashion, so they had to introduce themselves and initiate conversation to find out the answers for their bingo cards.

Jeremy, who was volunteering for his second year at JA You’re Hired!, this time as an organizer as well as volunteer, was impressed by the number of kids who were already planning the trajectory of their future careers. “We even told a few of the kids that they were welcome to call us to interview for a job in the future,” he said.

After the networking challenge, where Desirae, Todd, Bryan, Nathaniel, Darlene and Jeremy all volunteered, the students participated in a creative marketing challenge, where they had to construct a product from loose materials in a box and develop an ad campaign; a STEM challenge, where they were tasked with figuring out math problems and puzzles; an interview challenge to test and hone their skills; and a thinking-on-your-feet challenge with real-life dilemmas to solve. The final challenge, called dress for success, caught the students off guard when they learned that select spies had been assessing their business attire at the networking event with the goal of presenting awards to the best-dressed school as well as best dressed boy and girl.

It was a tremendous day for these students, who learned very practical career skills, and for the volunteers who had a chance to give so many Phoenix-area kids a leg up in the business world.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to Todd, who serves on the Junior Achievement of Arizona board of directors and to Jeremy for working more than half a year on the JA You’re Hired! planning committee.

While we may not always think of ourselves as role models, it’s clear that you instantly become one when you volunteer at a Junior Achievement event. The business skills we come to take for granted can make all the difference in the world when you teach them to a young person. To find out more about how you can volunteer with Junior Achievement, visit their website here.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

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The Future is Bright – The Biltmore Bank of Arizona Team Mentors at Junior Achievement

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Approximately 400 Phoenix- and Tucson-area teens may have a leg up on their peers when it comes to job performance. That’s because a group of Biltmore bankers teamed up with Junior Achievement of Arizona↗ and other professionals from around town to put the students through their paces in real-world job skills and on-the-job problem solving.

Entitled You’re Hired!, the event, produced by Junior Achievement and held at the Phoenix Convention Center, gives students the chance to build professional networking, problem solving, team work and oratory skills that they can leverage in their future careers. With rounds of team and individual competition, the students take on a variety of challenges and receive feedback and advice from the business professional volunteers.

After receiving a briefing and some training from Junior Achievement staff, the adult volunteers take the students through their paces in three rounds of game playing.

  1. Networking Challenge – The students have the onus of approaching and engaging the volunteers in conversation to gather information about the volunteer. The volunteer then rates the student and provides feedback about what the student did well and where they can improve.
  2. Power Team Challenge – A volunteer oversees and times student teams while they assemble a project consisting of circuit boards and components.
  3. Thinking on Your Feet Challenge – Using a four-round bracket elimination system, the volunteers judge students as they solve workplace dilemmas posed to them on a card selected at random. The game challenges the students’ communication skills, critical thinking and ethics. The final three students move to the stage, where they each address one of the most difficult scenarios of the game, and one is declared the winner.

Junior Achievement of Arizona has been educating K-12 students about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy since 1957. With offices in Tempe and Tucson, Junior Achievement of Arizona will engage over 90,000 students through its programs this year.

Seven team members from our bank (Bryan Ellisor, Todd Leveen, Paul Brodt, Nathaniel Spatz, Jeremy King, Desirae Outcalt and Darlene Esquerra) participated in the You’re Hired! event. Todd, Nathaniel and Desirae were quick to volunteer for a subsequent Junior Achievement session, held several weeks later.

“We all really enjoyed participating,” said Darlene, who coordinated the bank’s outreach with Junior Achievement. “You see some of the students shaking when they have to network with people they don’t know, because they’re not used to it. It’s great to be able to give them positive feedback and help them develop real-life skills.”

The sophomores, juniors and seniors, mostly from schools with high concentrations of low- to moderate-income communities, who participated in the event left with new skills and new ways of thinking about what they would do in the real-life work scenarios posed to them at You’re Hired!

“I know they’re going to remember this experience, and they’re going to put what they learned to work,” said Darlene.

For more information about how you can volunteer with Junior Achievement of Arizona, visit their website.↗

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It’s a Slam Dunk!

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Our Vice President and Client Relations Officer, Desirae Outcalt, has been working hard as a member of the Phoenix Suns Charities 88↗ organization and as the event chair for the organization’s annual Slam Dunk Street Party fundraiser – a progressive dinner that raises money for kids and families in need.

The Biltmore Bank of Arizona got into the action too this year – making a financial donation to support this great cause.

The Phoenix Suns Charities 88 Slam Dunk featured drinks, dinner, dancing and a silent auction on November 7 in downtown Phoenix at the US Airways Center. Auction items included memorabilia signed by Phoenix Suns players and much more. This fun event is so popular that it sold out!

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Phoenix Suns Charities 88 was formed with the mission to enhance the lives of Arizona’s children and their families by actively creating and supporting programs in the areas of education, health, human services, the arts, rehabilitation and sports and recreation. Throughout the past 26 years, Phoenix Suns Charities has raised and gifted more than $16 million to charitable organizations in Arizona, with over $1 million granted annually.

Attendees dressed in “Suns Chic,” including comfortable footwear for dancing and working the court.

For more information, visit the event website here.↗

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State tax deductions through contributions to School Tuition Organizations

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An investment in education can deliver returns through a lifetime and beyond. Fortunately, Arizona offers a wonderful way to make an education available to a child whose family has chosen a private school, and it’s not too late to have that act of generosity and empowerment afford you a break on your 2014 state taxes as well.

If you’re just realizing that you may need to increase your tax credits, all the more reason to consider donating to a School Tuition Organizations (STO). Donors have until April 15, 2015, to be able to claim the credit on their 2014 Arizona state tax returns.

Under Arizona law, as outlined by the State of Arizona Department of Revenue,↗ state taxpayers may donate to their choice of approximately 50 private 501(c)(3) STO organizations. The STO receiving the donation must direct at least 90 percent of contributions toward student scholarships and make those scholarships available for more than one school. The scholarships go to K-12 students (and some preschoolers with disabilities) attending private schools, often religiously-affiliated schools. Additional conditions may apply for receiving the scholarships.

Approximately 350 schools participate in the STO programs. The Department of Revenue’s School Tax Credits↗ document outlines the particulars of the law. There is no income limit for individuals or married couples to donate, and scholarships can be granted to a student by the STO in any amount. Donors can suggest a student beneficiary but STOs cannot award scholarships solely upon donor recommendations. The STO must consider the financial needs of the student.

According to Arizona Tuition Organization,↗ in the 2014 tax year, individual taxpayers contributing to STOs may claim a dollar-for-dollar credit of up to $1,053, and married couples filing jointly may claim up to $2,106. These amounts are made up from the original Private School Tuition Tax Credit, which allows for credits of up to $1,056 for married couples filing jointly and $528 for individuals, as well as the Private Learning Uplifting Students (PLUS) credit, which allows $1,050 of additional credits for the married couples and $525 for individuals.

Keep in mind that the deadline for charitable donations that can be deducted on your Federal tax return is still December 31, so if you donate to an STO this year and claim the credits on your 2014 Arizona state taxes, you cannot claim the deduction on your federal tax return until you file your 2015 federal taxes.

All information has been obtained from sources believed by The Biltmore Bank of Arizona to be accurate and reliable. However, you should consult your tax advisor before taking any action on topics discussed in this blog.

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Holiday Charity Drive

bb picPhoenix Finest Entertainment (PFE), in conjunction with the Arizona Pay It Forward Project and iRefuse Charities,↗ is hosting the 8th Annual Sharing Is Caring event to help bring Christmas cheer to the kids and families of UMOM New Day Centers↗ December 15th! A wonderful organization, UMOM New Day Centers operates the largest homeless shelter for families in Arizona.

The Biltmore Bank of Arizona is pitching in to help gather gifts and essentials for the teenagers served by UMOM, and we’re inviting our clients, friends and neighbors to join in.

Please bring any of the following unwrapped items to our office at 5055 North 32nd Street by December 18 (we’ll be collecting even a few days after the Sharing Is Caring event). Thank you in advance for helping to make this holiday season brighter for teens in need.

  • Gift sets (lotions, soaps, sprays)
  • Individual lotions, soaps, and sprays
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, hair brush, combs and barrettes)
  • Hats
  • Beanies
  • Hoodies
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear
  • Socks (long or short socks with different designs)
  • Robes
  • Slippers
  • Movie passes

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