State Farm, a national insurance company, has supported the Chicago Urban League for more than 21 years. State Farm has provided significant financial and volunteer support to the League’s Center for Student Development, Housing and Financial Empowerment Center, and signature fundraising events. In the following Q&A, Lisa Cooper, Community Relations Specialist at State Farm, discusses why State Farm invests in resources that enhance educational development and financial empowerment in underserved communities as well as the motivation for her personal commitment to philanthropy.
Lisa Cooper, Community Relations Specialist, State Farm
What is your role at State Farm Insurance?
As a household brand, State Farm’s mission is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected and realize their dreams. I do this by connecting with community organizations, educational institutions, legislators and more than 650 State Farm agents in an effort to educate, strengthen and grow communities in the Chicago area. This work has offered me the chance to connect with the community in a variety of ways. It is exhilarating for me and State Farm agents to have the chance to: clean vacant lots, build community gardens, paint murals, judge Science Fair projects, teach financial literacy modules for children and young adults, speak with teens about distracted driving and recognizing hazards on the roadway, and meet and speak with legislators about issues that affect the community.
Can you share more about State Farm Insurance’s commitment to impacting communities through safety, community development and education?
State Farm prefers to utilize our local philanthropic resources to support programs and activities that align with our business purpose: auto/home/fire safety, financial literacy, first-time homebuyer education, foreclosure prevention, creating/growing small businesses, and two specific educational initiatives (service-learning and Teacher Excellence programs). Our work with the Chicago Urban League is a fit for our community development efforts and we have enjoyed supporting the League’s programs and events including the Housing & Financial Empowerment Center, Project Ready College, Project Ready High School, Youth Investor/Entrepreneur Project, the Annual SUMMIT Luncheon, and the Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner.
Why has State Farm Insurance remained a longtime partner of the Chicago Urban League and how do you see the partnership evolving?
Many years ago State Farm sponsored the National Urban League’s Achievement Matters program. The planning committee worked tirelessly to recognize and reward city and suburban high school students who were excelling: academically, through extra-curricular activities and in service to their community.
State Farm later expanded the partnership with the Chicago Urban League to offer free certified child passenger safety seat inspections and provided free safety seats, if needed, through our National Child Passenger Safety Day events. Since then we have also connected with the League’s programs that promote financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and homeownership.
What does an ideal partnership with a nonprofit organization look like to State Farm Insurance?
An ideal partnership for State Farm should include connecting our local agents to volunteer opportunities. The local State Farm agent is the face of the company in the community. Our agents are small business owners and they want to connect to others in their neighborhood as would any other successful business owner. This includes connecting with local legislators on key issues that affect the communities where we live and work. Lastly, we are looking to develop the workforce of the future. We want to ensure their educational and training success so that they will be adequately prepared to keep our communities vibrant and productive.