At Carter Bank & Trust, we are proud to partner with community organizations and non-profits to help revitalize low-income and underserved communities.
“I absolutely love my job,” says Vice President & Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and Fair Lending Officer Beverly Pitzer. “Out of all of the paths my career might have taken, this is the job I’d want to be doing.”
With a background in banking and business intelligence software and a heart for community development, Pitzer was thrilled to learn that there was something called community reinvestment at banks. “It was something that I always knew I wanted to do,” says Pitzer. “I always looked for ways to scratch that itch through volunteering outside of work and even taking classes related to community resilience.”
Pitzer grew up in Martinsville, Virginia, but spent most of her career in the northeast and on the west coast working in the technology and banking sectors there. Most recently, she worked at Bank of the West in San Francisco on the Community Reinvestment Act team. So when she had the opportunity to return to Southside Virginia to work at Carter Bank & Trust in community reinvestment, it was the perfect fit.
(Re)Investing in Communities
At Carter, Pitzer ensures that the bank follows the guidelines of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which requires that banks meet the credit needs of low- and moderate-income communities. “The law was created to combat redlining, a discriminatory practice of the past in which banks would take in deposits from low and moderate income neighborhoods but would turn around and not extend credit to homes and businesses in those areas,” says Pitzer.
The following loans are considered in the evaluation of a bank’s compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA):
- Community Development Loan – Loans over $1 million with a primary purpose to serve the community by providing one of the following: affordable housing, economic development, essential community services, revitalization and stabilization or disaster recovery
- Home Mortgage Loans – Mortgages spread out amongst low- to moderate-income people and neighborhoods
- Small Business Loans – Business Loans under $1 million
Small Farm Loans – Loan under $500,000 for agricultural purposes
A Partnership for Community Development
In addition, we work closely with community organizations to offer financial literacy training and other types of classes geared at helping communities.
In 2018, Carter Bank invested $14,500 in the United Way of Henry County & Martinsville’s “Bridges Out of Poverty” program.
“We started talking to different leaders in the community and learned of an initiative that had been simmering for a while and needed funding for additional community training and outreach,” says Pitzer.
The Bridges Out of Poverty initiative fosters collaboration among citizens, human services agencies, the private sector, and local government. It includes a 16-week program, called Getting Ahead, for people in generational poverty in Martinsville, Henry County and Patrick County. The course allows people to investigate the resources they need to bridge them out of poverty to a more stable life for themselves and their families.
Though Pitzer believes in the efficacy of the program, she attributes its success to the fact that the community wanted the program before they stepped in. “It was fertile ground, and all we did was add life to it through a donation that got it off the ground,” says Pitzer.
In addition to funding, Carter Bank gives of their time as well. Pitzer is currently a co-facilitator of the 4th Getting Ahead cohort and is extremely encouraged how the program is already impacting people’s lives. “In the beginning of every session, we go around the room and say what we did this week that was productive,” Pitzer explains. “We’re not even halfway through with the current run of the program, and we are already seeing progress. People are reporting that they got job interviews, obtained full-time child care, got medical conditions treated. It’s really impressive to see it first-hand.”
Now that the program has proven to be effective, Carter Bank has donated another round of money to keep the momentum going. In addition, a local foundation, Harvest Foundation, invested over $147,000 to fund the expansion of the Getting Ahead courses.
“It’s truly wonderful to see the community coming together and continuing to invest in the success of this initiative in Martinsville, Henry County, and Patrick County. It’s my vision that Carter Bank invests in other Bridges out of Poverty programs in our footprint,” Pitzer says. “We love coming alongside communities who are already doing this work. It’s important that we listen and learn the needs of the communities we serve and then collaborate in ways that help them take this work to the next level.”