How AIG serves as an ally to small businesses and local communities
The AIG Foundation® is taking action to support equity and mental health.
Catherine Mukes never saw herself as a business owner. But that changed when she saw various gaps in access to affordable mental healthcare.
As a licensed professional counselor in Texas, Catherine grew frustrated that those with mental health challenges couldn’t seek help, in part, because of costs. She also wanted to provide a resource that was desperately needed and to address the lack of diversity among licensed mental health professionals in the U.S.
To help meet these needs, in 2018, Catherine opened Impact 4 Change, which provides mental health counseling to Black, Indigenous and other people of color in Texas. Through a team of diverse clinicians, the practice also aims to expand access to affordable care: Impact 4 Change accepts health insurance plans as part of payment – serving a segment of clients who can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for care, but also don’t qualify for assistance.
“I wanted to create a safe space for people of color to be able to connect with therapists who get it, and help them feel comfortable,” Catherine says.
Impact 4 Change received a $25,000 Enhancement grant from the Coalition to Back Black Businesses (CBBB), as part of a larger $500,000 grant from the AIG Foundation® in 2020-2021. More broadly, during the same period, the Foundation distributed a total of $10 million in grants.
These efforts and others demonstrate critical ways that AIG is supporting small businesses, and the diverse communities they serve where AIG colleagues live and work.
As a recipient of the Coalition’s AIG Foundation-sponsored grant, Impact 4 Change has been able to shift to a virtual business model and serve more clients amid COVID-19. Catherine says her practice hired an administrator to help field an influx of client inquiries. It also hired provisionally licensed clinicians, who see clients at reduced rates while working toward their full licensure under supervision.
“We were really excited about the grant because we knew that money would be helpful in so many different ways,” Catherine adds.
Small businesses play a critical role in economic growth
AIG is taking important steps to build a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion – both within the workplace as well as externally across the range of communities where AIG does business.
For example, through the AIG Foundation’s partnership with the CBBB, AIG has made strategic investments to address racial equity, promote equitable practices, and provide COVID-19 relief. The Coalition, a joint effort launched by American Express and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, aims to support Black small business owners and the communities they serve as they recover from the global pandemic.
For AIG, these relationships and others are critical because leaders recognize the company’s business performs better when the communities where it operates prospers, too.
“AIG is a champion for change, and we consider our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts a business imperative through the actions we take,” says AIG Chief Diversity Officer Ronald Reeves. “We also support the mental health and well-being of our communities including AIG colleagues.”
Ronald adds: In AIG’s philanthropic efforts and other outreach, the company is drawing attention to issues related to social justice while also helping create healthy environments for communities to thrive.
Small businesses play an important role in helping people and neighborhoods build wealth and grow: In the U.S., for example, small businesses account for nearly all U.S. firms and nearly half of all private-sector employment.
“We recognize that small businesses, particularly Black-owned small businesses, vitalize communities and provide services needed in order for neighborhoods to flourish,” says Laura Gallagher, AIG President and Global Head of Corporate Citizenship.
The AIG Foundation® and its board views all potential grants through a diversity, equity, and inclusive (DEI) lens, with a clear focus on meaningful and measurable actions, Laura adds.
At Impact 4 Change, Founder and CEO Catherine Mukes said support from AIG came at a crucial time. It has helped her practice continue to provide affordable mental health care and support to her local community, even as many small business owners worry about U.S. inflation.
“We want people to get the services they need as they manage challenges from the pandemic,” Catherine says. “The support has been a blessing for Impact 4 Change.”
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