Wells Fargo aids Northern Initiatives

MARQUETTE — Wells Fargo Bank made a $25,000 grant recently to Northern Initiatives, a community development financial institution, in support of helping to build a learning community of users of its customer portal, Initiate. Northern Initiatives makes loans to start-up and growing businesses, making the loans that banks are unable to do.

Initiate was created by Northern Initiatives to solve a problem of how to reach its growing portfolio of loan customers –over 300 — that stretch across a large geography of the Upper Peninsula and lower Michigan. Initiate was conceived of in 2014, piloted in 2016 and formally rolled out to customers in 2017. The portal contains over 100 articles, 21 videos, six financial calculators, webinars and templates organized around the topics of money, marketing and management.

Over the past year, Northern Initiatives has sold licenses to six other CDFI’s to use Initiate in support of their customers. Those licenses now mean the platform is available and being used by customers in 31 States.

The grant from Wells Fargo is helping Northern Initiatives to craft a learning community among the seven user groups. These groups are using their experience with Initiate and customers to advance the idea of blended learning. In other words how a coach best uses the resources of Initiate with high touch contacts to help customers reach goals or solve problems.

Dennis West, President of Northern Initiatives said, “It has been very special to see something built by our staff and supported by one of our start-up customers emanate from Marquette to be used across the nation. This grant helps us to build a learning community where collectively we can begin to see what is working and what is missing, for Initiate 2.0”