From Little to Big: TD's Matt Singh gives back to organization that helped him
As a middle school boy being raised by a single mom, Matt Singh found a nurturing father figure through Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of America, the nonprofit that has matched children, or “Littles," with supportive mentors, or “Bigs," for more than a century.
“My Big, Steve, became a very important part of my life," says Matt, now a TD Bank Credit Specialist for Commercial Real Estate and a volunteer mentor himself through TD's partnership with BBBS of New York City. “He became like a dad to me. I mean, our relationship evolved over time, but I was effectively his kid. He even used to measure my height against one of the doors in his workshop."
Matt and Steve were close for a decade, before Steve passed away in 2010. Matt recently launched an online fundraiser for BBBS of NYC in Steve's memory and in honor of National Mentoring Month and invites everyone to participate.
Today, Matt also hopes to play a similar role as a Big to high school senior Jonathan, his Little since they were matched in the fall of 2018. “He's very smart and driven. It's been a joy to be there," Matt says. "We've really clicked and I feel like I can be a support, even if it's just by showing up."
TD Bank has been an extraordinary community partner with BBBS of NYC for the past five years. "Our TD Bank Workplace Mentoring Program now serves 45 High School students who get to be mentored by dedicated TD employees like Matt Singh," said Jeff Elgart, Chief Corporate Mentoring and Partnership Officer for BBBS. "Matt and his Little Brother Jonathan have a very close relationship that has let Jonathan know that Matt is and always will be part of his support system. The bond they share is powerful, organically grown and will last their lifetimes."
Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC program is thriving
Through such caring relationships, TD's workplace mentoring program with BBBS of NYC seeks to provide participating New York City high school students with the skills needed to realize their potential and succeed in college and their careers.
Twice a month during the school year, three groups of 15 matched mentoring pairs and the BBBS of NYC program manager meet at TD's corporate offices, where they follow a curriculum centered on job and life skills. The visits offer a chance for the pairs to work together and for the group to participate in outside activities.
Matt is an excellent example of the success of BBBS. Although he came from modest means, he was able to graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, and then earn a post-graduate degree from Harvard University.
Matt, who was born in India and grew up in northern California and the Bay Area, credits BBBS with contributing to his successful life course — and hopes he can help make a difference for Jonathan, who he says shows the same kind of drive and perseverance.
"I grew up in modest circumstances and having that positive male influence when I was a Little is one of the things I credit for giving me the self-awareness, self-confidence, and life and critical thinking skills to help me get to where I am today.”
TD CEO serves as trustee on board
As a sign of the institution's strong connection to the program, TD Bank President and CEO Greg Braca serves as a trustee on BBBS of NYC's board and as executive sponsor for the endeavor.
"I've been involved with BBBS for many years and this organization does fundamentally amazing work for New York City and beyond," said Greg Braca, CEO, TD Bank. "For our employees, what could be a better endeavor than spending time developing and mentoring the youth of New York City? It's tremendous our New York City team puts an investment like that back into the community. I'm thrilled that we continue to build on our strong relationship with BBBS, and thank you to Matt for his dedication to the organization."
TD's customers have also played a role in strengthening the Bank's relationship with BBBS.
McDonald's franchise owner PJ Fonseca, a TD Restaurant Franchise Finance Group Customer, started donating cookies to the BBBS weekly mentoring sessions in the Bronx. PJ, who owns McDonald's restaurants in New York and New Jersey, has donated more than 1,000 cookies. Around the holidays, mentees even participated in a gingerbread house-building competition using the treats PJ provided to make a McDonald's restaurant and a cookie burger.
As for Matt, volunteering for BBBS aligns with his work at TD as a Credit Specialist on the Community Development Lending team within Commercial Real Estate supporting the Bank's commitment to affordable housing.
Last year, the team underwrote more than $600 million in loans and letters of credit that will create or renovate close to 4,000 affordable apartments for low- and-moderate income families and seniors throughout TD's footprint, including projects with services that support families exiting homeless shelters, individuals with diverse abilities, veterans and survivors of domestic violence and their children.
Matt has been at TD since 2018. But one thing remains the same as when he started his career in affordable housing a decade ago.
"It was important to me to make a difference," Matt says. "To be able to do good in the world and do well for myself at the same time is where I find the most meaning and purpose."