Morgan Stanley building in New York. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Morgan Stanley increased its COVID-19 charitable commitment to $25 million by making an additional $15 million in grants available to support the ongoing relief efforts, it said.

The new grant will support organizations that are fighting hunger as well as organizations focused on disease control, caring for the sick and financial support for those most vulnerable who are struggling with the economic loss, it said.

As part of its commitment, the firm launched the Morgan Stanley COVID-19 Hunger Relief Campaign, a new initiative it said will facilitate employee contributions to critical feeding partners in all of the firm’s major global locations. Morgan Stanley will “match employee contributions dollar for dollar up to $5,000 per employee for designated feeding programs,” it said.

The grant is in addition to the firm’s previously announced $10 million commitment to COVID-19 relief efforts, supporting critical front-line medical responders globally as well as community providers serving those economically impacted by the crisis.

SoFi Helps Small Businesses Gain Access to PPP Lenders

SoFi “helped funnel” more than $75 million in loan applications to lenders for the Paycheck Protection Program established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, it said.

The firm reached its extensive network of lenders by using Lantern, the product comparison site it operates. Launched only four days after the CARES Act was passed, Lantern’s PPP offering has seen 42% of applicants match with its network of lenders, of which 24% got approved by the Small Business Administration for PPP loans, SoFi said.

SoFi Lantern makes it simple for applicants to search across different financing options, including SBA programs, private small business financing options and personal loans to provide applicants with a wide array of solutions all from a single application, it said. Lantern works with multiple lenders to give applicants choice and competition in securing a PPP loan through a single application, SoFi said.

The company is also “working with dozens of corporate and association partners to ensure that their networks of small businesses including medical practices, local restaurants, independent contractors, and more get access to the funding they need,” it said.

While the average size of the PPP loans issued by financial institutions was $206,000, the average size obtained via Lantern was $42,601, “reflecting the significantly smaller businesses served by SoFi’s program, as loan eligibility is tied to company size,” it said.

Individuals can determine if they are eligible for pre-qualified or pre-approved offers on the Lantern page of SoFi’s website.

OneUnited Bank Starts Offering PPP Loans

OneUnited Bank, the largest black-owned bank in the U.S., started offering PPP loans to its existing and new customers on a nationwide basis through its online and mobile banking platform.

The bank had access to $30 billion of stimulus funding that was allocated to Minority Depository Institutions and Community Development Financial Institutions as part of the second round of PPP, it said, noting many black-owned businesses were unable to secure loans from the first PPP round before funds ran out.

“OneUnited Bank stepped in for the second round to ensure greater access” to PPP for black-owned businesses, it said.

“Most of our customers who filed PPP applications with other institutions during the first round were not funded,” according to Teri Williams, OneUnited Bank president and chief operating officer.

Citing the findings of a recent study by McKinsey & Co., “Investing in Black Lives and Livelihoods,” OneUnited said COVID-19 is “both a public-health crisis and an economic emergency that poses a major threat to the long-term well-being” of black Americans “unless public and private organizations respond immediately.”

Hancock Whitney Pledges $2.5M

Bank Hancock Whitney committed $2.5 million for investments in communities to help people in some of the Gulf South’s most vulnerable neighborhoods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The investments “provide much-needed financial support for the following priorities in local communities across Hancock Whitney’s banking footprint,” it said. Included are about:

  1. $1 million for stocking local food pantries
  2. $600,000 for supplies to help protect residents in some of the hardest hit and low- to moderate-income communities and first responders
  3. $800,000 for housing relief, including legal services to help disadvantaged individuals fight illegal evictions
  4. $100,000 for the Hancock Whitney Associate Assistance Fund, in addition to $400,000 bank board members, executives, and associates have already contributed to help Hancock Whitney associates affected by the pandemic

A special page at www.hancockwhitney.com/covid19 provides updates on Hancock Whitney’s locations and operations, resources, fraud prevention tips and ongoing direct assistance for people and businesses, including fee waivers, loan payment deferrals and Small Business Administration loans, it said.

Cross River Bank Teams With Reliant Funding

Fort Lee, New Jersey-based Cross River Bank partnered with San Diego-based small-business finance provider Reliant Funding to deliver PPP loans to small businesses, the companies said.

Noting that Reliant was “born in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis,” Adam Stettner, its CEO, said his firm’s team is “equipped to ensure our small businesses are supported — financially and emotionally — through these trying times.” The company is “committed to helping small businesses get back on their feet after this pandemic is over, and we know our partnership with Cross River will create a seamless application process that will do just that,” he said in a statement.

Since April 27, the companies have worked “in tandem to facilitate loans to ensure the process is as seamless as possible for American small businesses, as well as deliver transparency and answer any questions throughout the application process,” they said in the announcement.

In addition to applying for money from the government, small businesses will also have the opportunity to apply for working capital through Reliant, the companies said.

The program ends June 30. For more information, or to apply for a PPP loan, visit ReliantFunding.com/PPP.