Pinnacle donates $15,000 to Hooks Institute in honor of Strickland

Pinnacle Financial Partners on Friday announced a $15,000 donation to the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute and the expansion of its services in Whitehaven with the creation of a Pinnacle Economic Empowerment Resource Center.

Pinnacle said it made the donation and the extended services were in honor of Herman Strickland, a veteran of Memphis’ banking and civic community, who died two years ago.

Strickland served as senior vice president and senior credit officer for Pinnacle in Memphis. Prior to joining Nashville-based Pinnacle, Strickland spent 34 years at First Tennessee Bank (now First Horizon) in Memphis, where he led its diversity banking group.

While at Pinnacle, Strickland helped develop the bank’s community lending work and helped establish community lending offices in Whitehaven.

“Through his efforts, he’s helped us build a very strong track record of helping these people,” said Steve Swain, community lending manager for Pinnacle and Hooks Institute board member.

Herman Strickland

As a tribute to Strickland’s legacy, Pinnacle will expand its services to Whitehaven and establish a Pinnacle Economic Empowerment Resource Center in the area, a resource that Swain says will “be unlike any other” and will aim to improve literacy financial support, small business support and affordability. housing in the neighborhood.

“It’s just another hub, just another resource, some of the organizations we work with, they also do some of these things, but I think when a bank comes in and says ‘hey, we’re also going to provide our physical build because we want the learning center to be where they can come for training, they can have events, they have staff meetings and things of that nature,” Swain said. “So we’re open to all of that. We think it’s the right thing to do.”

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An official announcement regarding the resource center will come later this year.

Strickland was also a board member of the Hooks Institute. The Hooks Institute is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Memphis dedicated to teaching, studying, and promoting civil rights and social change. Strickland joined the board in 2010.

“And Herman took on the role of fundraising chair, so if any of you know anything about nonprofits, you know nobody wants to be fundraising chair. But he did, and he did a great job with it,” said Daphene McFerren, Executive Director of the Hooks Institute. “And because this was the beginning of my tenure and the Hooks Institute had no programming when I started, Herman and this grassroots council were responsible for creating many of the Hook Institute programs that are flagship programs you hear about.”

Programs Strickland helped create include the Hooks Foundations partnership with Splash Mid-Southa program to provide swimming lessons to unearned at-risk youth in the Memphis area.

“That money that Herman got from corporations and other entities, and that he donated from his own family’s personal resources, helped Hook’s Institute do research for those programs,” McFerren said.

In 2021, McFerren said, 8,000 students completed the Splash Mid-South program.

Strickland also helped support the Hooks African American Male Initiative, a program that aims to eliminate disparities among African American students at the University of Memphis.

“We started this program in 2015, we got our first grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents in 2016, but that money only lasted a year, and I said to Herman, ‘we need to fundraise in the private sector, because it’s privately funded, to keep HAAMI alive,” McFerren said. “The first corporate donation we got, Herman Strickland got it. And the HAAMI program is now in its seventh year.”

“The only way to lift Memphis is through programs like these,” McFerren said. “Because when we lift people up and make them realize their potential so they can access the opportunities that institutions like Pinnacle provide.”

Gina Butkovich covers DeSoto County, storytelling and general news. She can be reached at 901-232-6714 or on Twitter @gigibutko.

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