Through inspiring partnership, Higher Achievement and EagleBank give new opportunities to middle school scholars

Collaboration between a local non-profit organization and a local bank can yield numerous benefits that contribute to the overall growth, efficiency and impact of the non-profit’s activities.

Such a partnership goes beyond mere financial transactions, as it fosters a symbiotic relationship that can amplify the organization’s mission in the community.

That is exactly what has happened over the years between EagleBank and Higher Achievement, a non-profit group that helps middle school scholars with academic enrichment and mentoring, and placement in college preparatory high schools. This work is sorely needed in under-resourced neighborhoods where Higher Achievement operates, helping achieve educational equity.

“Our relationship with EagleBank has provided the fiscal foundation for everything that Higher Achievement has been able to do over the last 10 years,” said Lynsey Wood Jeffries, the CEO of Higher Achievement.

That relationship started when Jeffries was new to the role of CEO back in 2013.

“They helped us buy and renovate our headquarters office in Adams Morgan on Columbia Road,” Jeffries explained. “They’ve helped us through challenging fiscal times, and through COVID.”

EagleBank is a provider of business, personal and commercial real estate banking in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

“We’ve never had a real crisis,” Jeffries said. “Part of that is proactive planning and planning in partnership with EagleBank.”

The local connection

Opting to collaborate with a local bank over a larger national bank offers distinct advantages for a local non-profit, such as Higher Achievement.

The bank’s agility in decision-making and flexibility in financial arrangements cater to the non-profit’s specific requirements in a way that a larger, more bureaucratic national bank might struggle to match.

Local banks offer quicker response times and more personalized service.

Additionally, the intimate connection between the non-profit and the local community aligns seamlessly with the personalized and community-focused approach that EagleBank provides.

“We are about ‘relationship banking,’” said Scott Kinlaw, senior vice president and market executive for commercial lending at EagleBank.

“It’s about listening to your client and finding out what their needs are, understanding what their needs are and then tailoring a solution directly to them,” Kinlaw said.

Non-profits often operate on tight timelines, and the agility of a local bank can be a crucial advantage in providing timely financial solutions.

In contrast, the complicated structure of larger national banks might slow down decision-making processes and lead to frustration for non-profits.

“I love that EagleBank is locally-rooted and focused on the D.C. region,” Jeffries said.

It mirrors Higher Achievement’s roots, as the group has been around for almost 50 years locally.

It was originally founded in D.C. out of Gonzaga College High School.

“Whenever we have questions, if we need support or advice, we can lean on EagleBank,” Jeffries said. “We’ve always had really competitive rates with EagleBank as well, which makes our relationship even stronger.”

‘Going Places’ together

Both EagleBank and Higher Achievement are deeply invested in the community’s well-being.

That shared commitment leads to a collaborative and supportive relationship, which even includes the bank actively participating in the non-profit’s events and initiatives.

“We work with a lot of companies in the community, and they contribute to the local economy mostly through jobs, products and services,” said Kinlaw. “When you’re working with a non-profit group, they are contributing to the community in different ways.”

Kinlaw said it is a special thing to witness.

“They’re giving back through their mission,” Kinlaw explained. “They’re creating opportunity, and it’s inspiring to be a part of something like that.”

The practice of participating in events hosted by Higher Achievement can be mutually beneficial for both the bank and the non-profit.

It allows EagleBank to publicly demonstrate its commitment to local causes, which fosters more community trust overall.

According to Jeffries, EagleBank has been a “very generous sponsor” of one annual event hosted by Higher Achievement called “Going Places.”

It is a fundraiser that celebrates the dedication, passion and talent of the group’s scholars while recognizing the families, mentors and community champions who support them along the way.

The next “Going Places” is scheduled for Nov. 8 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Details are here.

“Our middle schoolers lead the event,” Jeffries said. “We have alumni who give speeches, often we have poetry performances by scholars, some honoree comments, and then it’s a party filled with dancing and fun.”

It’s something that knits the community together.

“Being a part of what this group has done and watching them grow has been a lot of fun,” said Kinlaw. “It is especially rewarding given what the group’s mission is, because it is all about growing and helping our community.”

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