Otto Bremer's Legacy "Gives" On!

Otto Bremer
In the 1947 holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the character played by Jimmy Stewart stops a run on his family’s bank by panicked depositors by offering up his own money to cover their immediate needs.  Hollywood needed to look no further than Saint Paul, Minnesota, and the wonderful life of Otto Bremer to find inspiration for such a scene.  Mr. Bremer owned a number of rural banks in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin, and like George Bailey, he showed up at his banks carrying satchels of his personal money to keep depositors from pulling their money from the banks during the height of the Great Depression.  His actions not only kept the banks from failing, but maintained the economic integrity of the communities his banks served.  You can read more about the amazing life of Otto Bremer here. 

What does Otto Bremer have to do with Genesys Works?  Lots.  Two entities he created, the Otto Bremer Foundation and Bremer Financial Corporation, have played impactful roles in the growth of Genesys Works in the Twin Cities, something for which we will be forever grateful.

Bremer Financial, a banking organization with more than $8 billion in assets, is 92% owned by the Otto Bremer Foundation (with the remaining ownership held by employees).  Accordingly, nearly all profits go to the charitable foundation, which in turn, supports non-profit organizations serving the needs of the communities where Bremer Financial conducts business.  This virtuous circle was the brainchild of Otto Bremer himself, and because of his charitable foresight, his foundation has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of his mission “to assist people in achieving full economic, civic and social participation in and for the betterment of their communities.”  

When we started Genesys Works in St. Paul in 2008, the first foundation grant we received was from the Otto Bremer Foundation.  Because of the Foundation’s belief in our mission and model, we were able to launch our pilot program with 16 students. With this validation from a well-respected funder, we were able to attract interest from other groups to fully finance our first year of operations and the Otto Bremer Foundation continues to be a valued financial supporter of our program growth to this day. 

But the Bremer support extends well beyond funding.  In the summer of 2008, Bremer Financial became one of our first corporate clients, agreeing to provide year-long internships to 2 of our 12 students.  Bremer Financial remains a loyal Genesys Works client/partner and currently employs 3 students (Anna Dien, Luis Moreno and Lwe Paw) in its Lake Elmo IT center. 

Lwe Paw, Stacy Kennedy, Anna Dien, Tom Lydon
and Luis Moreno
Stacy Kennedy, Senior Vice President and HR Business Partner at Bremer Financial, was an early believer in the Genesys Works value proposition.  “This is a tremendous program that provides such a wonderful win-win for both the students and the business.  I continue to be impressed with the performance level and professionalism of the students we have working with us each year.  Thank you Genesys Works for the opportunity for both of us!”

We are equally grateful and wish to express our thanks.  To you, Stacy, and all your fellow team members at Bremer Financial for the opportunities you continue to provide our student interns.  To Lue Her, Tony LookingElk, and the rest of the wonderful team at the Otto Bremer Foundation for your early and unwavering support of our mission and program.  And last but not least, to Mr. Otto Bremer himself, for showing us all that business and charity do mix and for creating a legacy of caring and giving that we should all aspire to emulate.  He truly lived A Wonderful Life.

Happy holidays.

1 comment:

  1. Having such a love and affinity for everyting Bremer, when it came time to expand our offices and training facility in downtown St. Paul, it won't come as much of a surprise that we chose to move into, you guessed it, the Bremer Tower. Again, many thanks to everyone associated with this wonderful organization.