The Wexner Center thanks the PNC Foundation and its Grow Up Great initiative for providing funding for the Zoom Family Film Festival. Regional President Mike Gonsiorowski of PNC's central Ohio region recently spoke with Corporate Giving Manager Chris Koenig about the company's approach to philanthropy and community connections.
Chris Koenig: Community outreach is crucial for programs PNC supports. Can you talk more about this?
Mike Gonsiorowski: PNC deliberately focuses much of our philanthropy on the delivery of programming to a wide and varied demographic. It is important that Grow Up Great programming reaches underserved children and that our PNC Arts Alive support helps drive new and diverse audiences for the visual and performing arts. The Wex has been a great partner with PNC because the Wex has broad community outreach in its DNA!
CK: As a business, your first priority is to shareholders and profit. But can you talk about the balance between focusing on the bottom line and giving back to the community?
MG: PNC understands the clear connection between the two. Through strategic investments, employee volunteerism, sponsorships, and philanthropy, PNC is helping to build strong, vibrant communities and create financial opportunities for individuals, families, and businesses. As our communities thrive, business opportunities grow as well. We're pleased that our business success allows us to be a part of this on-going cycle of improvement. In addition, PNC encourages our employees to volunteer with the Grow Up Great initiative on bank time. And we pay them for up to 40 hours of service each year.
CK: PNC is providing support for Zoom Family Film Festival in December. Can you talk about the importance PNC places on the education of youth, as well as their exposure to world-class children's arts programming?
MG: PNC's signature philanthropic cause is Grow Up Great. Originally launched in 2004 as a ten-year, $100 million initiative, Grow Up Great has had such extraordinary success that PNC announced that they are extending the program with an additional $250 million commitment for ten additional years. Grow Up Great helps prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life through the creation and support of innovative programs in math, science, financial education, and the arts. We are very committed to high-quality early childhood education, and Zoom presents outstanding opportunities for early childhood education.
CK: What were some of your first impressions of the Wex?
MG: I was immediately struck by the open, inviting, and exciting atmosphere. The youthful, edgy vibe was palpable. You could feel that this is a place that is thought-provoking and inspires creativity.
CK: Do you have any favorite experiences with Wex programming, past and present?
MG: My wife Joy and I have really enjoyed some of the film programming, such as the documentary The Rape of Europa and other films related to social justice. We also remember the African dance troupe Compagnie Tché Tché from back in 2006 as particularly moving. And of course the Wex hosts some of the very best parties in town!
CK: Anything else you would like to share about the WEX/PNC partnership?
MG: PNC realizes the importance of all that is new, fresh, contemporary, and creative, and the value these ideas and qualities bring to the larger community. We hope that PNC's partnership with the Wex demonstrates that, and may perhaps encourage other businesses, large or small, to partner with the Wex as well.