Volunteers from Summit State Bank helping out nonprofit Farm to Pantry

Community banking means you know your customers and community.

“Our tellers greet customers who walks in by name,” says Roni Brown, Senior Vice President and Director of Marketing for Summit State Bank. “We all live in this community and are connected. We know what’s going on in our backyard. We know what’s important.”

We at COTS know that we’re lucky to have Summit State Bank on our side. The bank has been a generous supporter for many years. And a curious one—about us and about all the causes it supports.

“I do my research, so I know our donations are staying in our community,” Roni says. She’s responsible for vetting applications from nonprofits, and she pores over financial statements and program results. She also asks around. Having grown up in Sonoma County, she knows a lot of people to ask! The bank’s charter is “to do for the greater good of the community.” For Roni, that means “I need to make sure we’re giving to agencies that are effective and that are aligned with our mission.”

The North Bay Business Journal named the bank one of the top 20 corporate philanthropists in the North Bay.

Since the fires, basic needs like food, housing and security are high on Summit State Bank’s list, Roni says. That means support for agencies like COTS, the Redwood Empire Food Bank, Verity and the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Now, during the pandemic, their focus is renewed. “Especially at times like these when so many people are out of work, it has to be about the basics.” Roni says. “This is hitting home for everybody.”

Most of the bank’s account holders are businesses, both the for-profit and non-profit kinds. For non-profit account holders, Summit State Bank has a special partnership, Nonprofit Partner Program, through which it pays above-market interest rates on account balances and provides donations and volunteer support. That volunteer support can include board membership, an invaluable donation of expertise and affiliation.

Christine Castillo, Executive Director of Verity, which works to end all forms of violence in Sonoma County, and focuses primarily on ending sexual assault and helping its victims heal, says, “Summit State Bank has been such an amazing partner and support to Verity. They understand the needs of non-profit organizations and are caring and supportive of our work. They are quick to provide us detailed response and support with not only our banking, but in checking in with us to see how we are all doing during this time of COVID19. It is truly a pleasure to work with Summit and a gift as well!”

The bank recently gained new business accounts because of its success with Paycheck Protection Program loans for its customers. “It was all-hands on deck,” Roni says. “Our focus was on helping our customers keep their doors open, keep their employees on the payroll.” With five branches and fewer than 100 employees in total, Summit State Bank closed over 500 loans in just three weeks.

“It was a constantly evolving process. There were a lot of touch points with customers, a lot of back and forth as we got new information,” Roni says. “The relationship we have with our customers was key to getting it done.”

“We’re never going to be the biggest player,” Roni says. “But that’s our strength, too. We’re accessible. One of the things that I’m most proud of is that we’re nimble and connected to the community.”

Thank you, Summit State Bank!

Want to read more stories about our business sponsors? Visit our Business Gives Back homepage by clicking here!

Share this story with your friends and family: