Diversified Insurance Solutions, one of Wisconsin’s largest full-service insurance brokerage firms, has created the SPARK $30,000 Giveback program to provide funding to nonprofits who take a creative and innovative approach to a local problem. The community program was developed as part of the company’s 30th anniversary.
From June 1, 2013 to April 30, 2014, tax exempt, nonprofit organizations in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties are invited to submit their grant request at www.DiversifiedSPARK.com. Over the course of 12 months, six nonprofits will be awarded $5,000 each to positively impact the community and people they serve.
“As a company, we’re extremely community minded so we wanted to celebrate our anniversary in a way that has an impact beyond our doors,” says James McCormack, founder and chairman of Diversified Insurance Solutions. “We hope our program will spark change and positive results in the community. We’d also like it to have a ripple effect so other small and medium-sized businesses are encouraged to get involved in the community and give back in any way they can. We’re demonstrating that it doesn’t have to be a $1 million donation to make a difference.”
The company is looking to fund new or existing programs that use fresh ideas to address a community need or problem. SPARK Diversified’s Giveback program is interested in supporting specific initiatives, events or actions that can be accomplished with a $5,000 grant or in conjunction with other funds.
To encourage grant requests, the company created a simple, streamlined online submission form. In addition, similar to Kickstarter, all requests will be profiled on the SPARK web site so members of the community can browse them and, if they desire, contact the organization directly to provide their own donation.
Diversified Insurance Solutions has a long history of supporting area nonprofits and engaging its associates in community activities. McCormack estimates Diversified is involved with nearly a dozen local groups.
As part of its 25th anniversary, the company “adopted” Sherman Park and supplied tens of thousands of dollars and manpower on an ongoing basis. For five years, Diversified Insurance Solutions organized a restoration and cleanup day where the company’s associates refurbished fitness stations and basketball and tennis courts, repaired backboards and bleachers, painted benches, replaced sand under swing sets, picked up trash, planted flower beds and tackled other projects.
The company grew the initiative and got other businesses involved to provide additional manpower and supply landscape materials, paint and other needed supplies. Some of the company’s funding was also used to support the Sherman Park Community Association, hire a security professional to provide extra eyes during the summer months and establish Friends of Sherman Park, a group that has now taken over ongoing maintenance and stewardship of the green space.
As part of its focus on the Sherman Park area, Diversified Insurance Solutions partnered with a local law firm to provide the funding necessary to complete the installation of donated basketball hoops in the gymnasium at Saint Catherine’s School on 51st St.
The company also has had an ongoing commitment to the MS Society and has been involved with the organization on multiple levels for the past 23 years. McCormack and Robert Sowinski, Diversified’s CEO, have both served as chairman of the board. More than two decades ago, the company began making a sizable contribution to the Society on behalf of its clients during the holidays. In addition, each year the company organizes Team Diversified to participate in the annual MS Walk. This year, 20 associates, their family members and friends walked and raised $5,000.
For the past four years, through the Volunteer Center of Milwaukee, Diversified Insurance Solutions has participated in the Giving Tree to provide gifts to a total of 215 children and seniors during the holidays. It’s been a regular sponsor of the Milwaukee Center for Independence, United Way and Common Ground Ministries’ annual “Refashion for Life,” a charity fashion show that benefits Elena’s House, a home for persons with HIV/AIDS. The company also provides scholarships at several area middle and high schools, teaching position endowments and has held a number of holiday food drives.
“We’re always looking for ways our company and associates can get involved with the community and provide support and help,” says McCormack. “We’ve developed a culture of outreach that’s embedded in our company’s personality.”