28 February 2022
YWCA Canberra is pleased to have Beyond Bank join us again in 2022 as a partner for our Great Ydeas Small Grants Program. Beyond Bank has been an incredible supporter of YWCA Canberra, so we took a moment to speak to Kenyon Neal, Beyond Bank’s local Community Development Manager, about what inspires him about the Great Ydeas program and supporting the community sector.
Beyond Bank is one of the largest fully customer-owned banks in Australia and has a long history in Canberra, which is one of the first locations the bank operated in.
Beyond Bank has supported YWCA Canberra on many occasions. Our first partnership was in 2019 when the Beyond Bank Foundation provided funding to help us launch Rentwell, our charitable property management service.
“The Foundation has four pillars, and one of them is affordable housing,” Kenyon told us. So when they heard about Rentwell, Beyond Bank jumped at the chance to support it. “We saw it as not just a way to give back to YWCA Canberra but also to the local community.”
This local focus is a special part of what Beyond Bank does. Although it has grown to a national group of branches in its 60-year history, the team has never forgotten their local beginnings and that their communities are the ones that own and drive the business.
“Because we are customer-owned instead of shareholder-driven, we can be quite flexible with how much money we give back to the communities. So very early on, the company decided to donate a large portion of its profits.”
That proportion is currently around seven per cent, with the Beyond Bank Foundation focusing on supporting programs linked to domestic violence, age care, disabilities, affordable housing and financial education.
“As a board,staff and customers, we all can help direct our funds and say, ‘We would love to see another initiative that puts more money back into their community.'”
“Because of the local grassroots start of it all, we like to still support organisations in the local areas that we’re based. Partnering with organisations like that, that have these deep roots in the community as well, aligns with our values and helps the impact go a little bit further.”
That’s why they have Community Development Managers like Kenyon all across Australia to focus on what they can do to help the local community.
“I honestly think it’s quite special because, on a grassroots level, you can see the impact through people you know. You know people’s parents or their sister or friend who has connections with these groups. Also, the groups we help can show us the impact on our community.”
That’s part of why Kenyon loves the Rentwell program. “You know, we’ve got over 50 properties and all these families who have been supported. They’re all ACT residents and hearing the case studies… it’s just amazing.”
Beyond Bank’s involvement with the Great Ydeas program was somewhat serendipitous.
“I started in this role a little bit over a year and a half ago, and one of the ideas I came into it with was to use some of the sponsorship funding I manage to create a small entrepreneurial style grant that can go out to the community. Then I was talking to YWCA Canberra’s partnerships manager, and she brought up Great Ydeas, and it was exactly like what I wanted to create!”
Given YWCA Canberra already had the program and structure in place, Kenyon saw this as a great opportunity to support the program and, through it, the community. That’s why the Beyond Bank Great Ydeas grant is specifically for a project that contributes to the local community.
“The idea of making the grant about the community stems from Beyond Bank’s focus on developing tight-knit communities and just being the best that we can for our community. It’s also about helping somebody with a project based on how they see their community and who they want to impact. It continues to align with our values.”
When Kenyon saw the Beyond Bank Great Ydeas Community Grant applications in 2021, it was an exhilarating experience.
“I’ve been on the other side and worked for not for profits: writing for grants, and putting together projects and coming up all the ideas and everything. So I know what it feels like to be on their side of it. And now I get to be excited for them!”
Kenyon has also loved working with last year’s recipient, Zainab, and her collaborator Khin on their project to run a professional development conference for culturally and linguistically diverse women. “It’s just cool to see these two women going out of their way on their own time to help bring something to their community, and something that they feel is really important.”
Kenyon finds being involved in this work extremely special.
“I get to witness all these not for profits just doing really great things. Seeing people’s actions and where they take their ideas is one of my favourite things about my job.”
At YWCA Canberra, we are so grateful to have special partners like Kenyon and Beyond Bank!
Find out more about the Great Ydeas Small Grants Program.