We talked with Bank of America’s Raju Patel about investing in history, businesses, and communities.
Why do you think it is important to support History Colorado’s work?
Raju Patel: I think History Colorado sparks critical conversations that help to educate and, ultimately, to strengthen our community. Through the Building Denverinitiative, in particular, History Colorado is doing incredible and important work confronting the consequences of health and racial exclusivity that have emerged as a result of our city’s design. Bank of America’s support of this effort underpins our ongoing commitments to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, including our $1.25 billion five-year commitment, which supports investments that address racial justice, advocacy, and equality for people and communities of color.
What does our shared history suggest to us about how we might address the most pressing problems we face today?
Raju Patel: I think cross-sector partnerships are critical to tackling social injustice and economic inequalities. During Covid and the health and humanitarian crisis, communities of color have experienced disproportionate health and economic impacts. It’s exaggerated previously existing inequities and issues of racial equality and economic opportunity are really deeply connected. Where there are racial injustices, there’s also often a lack of economic mobility and vice versa. Through direct action and investment, Bank of America is focused on creating opportunity in the areas of health, jobs, small business support, and affordable housing. These areas are where there are long-term systematic gaps that have existed and where significant changes are required to achieve sustainable progress.
Can you share a moment in history that inspires you, personally?
Raju Patel: Merrill Lynch, which is a part of Bank of America, has been in Colorado for over one hundred years. I’m curious as to what this history of providing financial advice was like a hundred years ago. But as it relates to Bank of America today, we’re fairly new in the state. We started our expansion here with financial centers and by serving small businesses and midsize to large businesses in 2015. That’s what inspires me: We’ve come to Colorado to help people, individuals, and companies grow.
How do you see Bank of America engaging in Colorado communities in future years?
Raju Patel: We’re committed to dedicating our resources to addressing the issues that matter the most to Denver. We want to make this a great place to live and work. We’ve also increased the number of employees here over the last six years, from roughly 200 to 725. I’m proud of that expansion and investment we’ve made to serve our clients in Denver and in Colorado. As it relates to the community, in 2020 alone, we invested a total of $2.8 million locally, really focused on alleviating unprecedented impacts to health, food insecurity, jobs, and education. And we also expect to deliver well over $3.2 million to the community by the end of this year. We see community collaborations and partnerships as ongoing work. We continue to build upon that to help people succeed today and look into the future economy. Our vision is not only being engaged in the present issues in the community, but also to create sustainable progress and change that benefits individuals and families decades into the future. Hopefully, a hundred years from now, somebody will say, “I wonder what kind of advice they were giving out a hundred years ago?” We’re excited about that.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You can tour Building Denver at the History Colorado Center. The exhibit explores how civic leaders, designers, and residents have steadily worked to bring their own visions of Denver to life by engaging the city’s natural landscape, navigating the movement of people across the city, and responding to a boom & bust economy. Through each vision, the exhibition examines how design affects everyday life.