Wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and looking for jobs will be among those helped by contributions from a new tri-state insurance industry charitable foundation.
The foundation also announced awards to a New York City anti-poverty program and an environmental organization focused on keeping the Hudson River safe from polluters.
The donations — totaling $500,000 — were the first for the New York division of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, which expanded to the East from the West Coast in the past year.
The New York IICF reported it has raised more than $1.3 million in its first year.
The grants were announced last evening at the IICF’s first annual New York City dinner, which attracted more than 900 insurance professionals, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and media and sports celebrities.
IICF is giving $200,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project which works with soldiers severely injured in current U.S. military conflicts. The project provides counseling and other services to help soldiers deal with their disabilities and transition back to civilian life and works to raise public awareness of the needs of disabled veterans. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based organization has branch in New York City.
According to Steve Nardizzi of the Wounded Warrior Project, the funds from the IICF will be used to help injured soldiers find training and jobs so they can “achieve the American dream.”
Nardizzi urged the insurance professionals to go beyond their contributions by also vowing to “hire a wounded warrior” in their own businesses.
The environmental group Riverkeeper was given a grant of $150,000 to further its work to “protect New York City’s ecological integrity.” Riverkeeper, a grassroots group that has existed for more than 40 years, has been credited with helping to restore the Hudson River and safeguarding the region’s drinking water supply.
The third grant of $126,000 is going to fund the first of New York City’s Neighborhood Empowerment Centers, which will provide practical financial counseling services to help low income people escape poverty. The pilot program will launch in the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx.
“Government can’t do everything by itself,” said Mayor Bloomberg in addressing the audience and praising the charitable foundation as a public-private model he hoped other industries would follow.
The IICF brings together a wide range of insurance firms — many of them competitors — in a partnership on philanthropy.
“The insurance industry is known for mitigating risk but we hope that the IICF will be known for taking risks,” said Ned Cloonan, a vice president with American International Group, Inc. who is chairman of the board for IICF in New York.
“Most doubted this could be done and yet the room is filled,” he told the overflow crowd.
Cloonan said the industry foundation should be proud of raising $1.3 million. “Even in New York, this is a success for a first time event,” he said.
Brian Duperreault, former chairman and chief executive officer, of ACE Limited, was honored at the dinner for his contributions to the insurance industry and his dedication to charitable causes.
Martin J. Sullivan, president and CEO of AIG, was chairman for the dinner.
For more on the IICF, visit www.iicf.com
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