WSFS joined the other WLA founding members, literally meeting in each other’s boardrooms, along with PMG Consulting, to devise ways to think about a vision for Wilmington’s future and how they can help affect that future. A big part of this grew out of necessity, and frankly, negativity.

In a recent interview with WSFS leadership, the WLA was able to talk deeper about the four core areas that both the WLA & WSFS are making strides to impact Wilmington. Below is a summary of the interview with WSFS CEO Mark Turner and other key members from their leadership.

There was a lot of negative press at the time about Wilmington and safety in Wilmington, education in Wilmington, economic development in Wilmington. Many felt like Wilmington was falling behind other cities that they were seeing across the country, whether it be Nashville or Memphis or Cleveland or Pittsburgh or Minneapolis or even right up the road in Philadelphia, that had been undertaking revitalization for the better part of a couple decades, and that had not been going on in Wilmington. It was their goal given all the great assets that Wilmington has, that Delaware has, to use those to further Wilmington’s revitalization.

The Wilmington Leaders Alliance has an important role shaping a vision of Wilmington as a “dynamic small city” and bringing back pride in the City.

One important aspect of any turn-around is the belief that the City is full of opportunity and that many things are changing. Of course, change has to occur. But if there is a vision of the City as a dynamic place, one that has a growing pool of good jobs and a population that is trained for these jobs; that has clean and safe affordable housing in vibrant neighborhoods of mixed-income; mixed race and other Amenities.

WSFS, as we know, stands for Wilmington Savings Fund Society. They’ve been in Wilmington for 186 years, this month. In fact, they were founded the same week as the City of Wilmington, from a corporate perspective. They were both incorporated in the same week.

As a community-based organization WSFS follows the mantra, “when the community does better, we do better, and when we do better, our communities do better.”

Like WLA, WSFS believes that leadership and commitment will be the way that the City moves toward a more dynamic future. Their associates, from CEO to Branch personnel provide leadership in local initiatives and local nonprofits that create positive change in Wilmington. 

The WLA will stimulate change, activity and progress by illuminating important issues, serving as an advocate for change, gathering and disseminating information and best practices, engaging dynamic leaders, leveraging resources and measuring impact.

A major focus for WSFS and WLA is education. The WSFS Foundation was founded in 2003 with Skip Schoenhals at that time leading the organization. It was very important to him that education in the State of Delaware was focused. He felt that WSFS as a community bank could help to effect change, especially from the standpoint of public policy. Higher education opportunities in Wilmington has truly blossomed through the growth in workforce development programs such as IT Works, ZipCode Wilmington  and Teen Sharp. IT Works offers technology-focused workforce development to people 18 to 26, who are out of school, out of work and without a college degree. 

The collaboration and partnership that comes from having WSFS as a member of the WLA pushes this network one step forward in effecting change within the community. With WSFS’s similar values, and influence, WSFS as a member will contribute greatly to the ultimate goals and causes of the WLA, especially in the realm of the four pillars; Education, Leadership, Safety, and Economic Development.

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