Published: Oct. 20, 2021

Ongoing support demonstrates KeyBank's commitment to pre-college DEI programs and scholarships.

A group of professionals and students poses with a check from KeyBank to support diversity initiatives at Leeds.

KeyBank is among the largest regional banks in the United States, with more than 1,000 branches in more than 20 states, including Colorado. So its leaders are plugged in to the most important issues at both the local and national level. 

It’s no surprise, then, that KeyBank is such a strong supporter of efforts surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion at work. 

KeyBank has long been an advocate for, and supporter, of DEI activities at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, and offered its most significant show of support this week through a $300,000 donation to the school. 

That financial commitment will allow Leeds to continue offering programs like the KeyBank Business Leadership and KeyBank Summer Bridge programs—pre-college initiatives designed to give first-generation students and those from diverse backgrounds the skills, encouragement and confidence needed to apply to college and excel once they arrive. 

“What’s so special about KeyBank is they offer both programmatic support and scholarships,” said Ruby Batalla, director of the Office of Diversity Affairs at Leeds. “The scholarship support helps make college more affordable for our students, which is important, but KeyBank also offers case analyses support and an on-campus experience for those pre-college programs. That attracts prospective students to Leeds and allows us to run these high-quality, high-impact programs.” 

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“The programs funded by this relationship increase retention rates, confidence, leadership skills, awareness of career opportunities and overall career readiness for participants.”

Adam Warner, president, Key Equipment Finance

Batalla also noted that KeyBank’s leaders are a regular presence on campus, demonstrating their commitment in the DEI space. At several points on a tour of the Koelbel and Rustandy buildings on the CU campus during the check presentation ceremony, KeyBank leaders were stopped by students who completed the summer programs before enrolling at Leeds. 

“We know firsthand that the programs funded by this relationship increase retention rates, confidence, leadership skills, awareness of career opportunities and overall career readiness for participants,” said Adam Warner, president of Key Equipment Finance and member of the Leeds School of Business Advisory Board. The bank’s relationship with Leeds, he said, is an honor, “because when we open the doors to education and opportunity for first generation college students, everyone wins.” 

Evidence of effectiveness

That’s borne out by looking at the success of the programs KeyBank has helped support. For the most recent cohort of participants, 100 percent of CU applicants from the KeyBank Business Leadership Program were admitted to Leeds. 

A group of professionals walking through an academic building.“At Key, we are committed to continuing our longstanding legacy as a diverse, equitable and inclusive company,” said Mike Katz, KeyBank’s market president for Colorado. “We believe that providing support and opportunity to first-generation college students from underrepresented groups is an investment with widespread benefits—for the individual, his or her family, future employers and the entire community.”

Batalla said KeyBank is no newcomer to the space, either. Rather, the bank has long had a focus on the pipeline of prospective employees they can expect hire upon graduation. 

“Businesses have to keep those pipelines in mind—and they can’t afford to just think, ‘I’ll get them when they’re undergraduates,’” she said. “They need to support entry to the pipeline, which begins long before those students set foot on campus. KeyBank has been really thoughtful about this, and about understanding that businesses do not get diverse candidates if they do not invest in their access.” 

Why Leeds  KeyBank Business Leadership Program