Fact Check: Did Silicon Valley Bank Donate More Than $73 Million to Black Lives Matter?
Claims are circulating online that Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) donated more than $73 million to the Black Lives Matter nonprofit organization before the bank failed earlier this month.
The source of the claim appears to be the “BLM Funding Database” run by the Claremont Institute’s Center For the American Way of Life. The database had previously shown that in recent years SVB donated $73,450,000 to organizations designated as “BLM Movement and Related Causes.” That number has since been amended to $70,650,000. The database allows users to search any contributions made by a specific donor to a specific recipient. While a search of this kind reveals no contributions made by SVB to any official BLM organization, donations were made to “related causes.”
Most of the money counted by the Claremont Institute as a donation from SVB to the “BLM Movement and Related Causes” came from a $50,000,000 commitment by the bank in 2021 to expand its own internal diversity and inclusion programs over the course of five years. This spending commitment was laid out in the bank’s 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report. The pledge was not fully realized, however, since the bank collapsed before the five-year window closed.
The database calculates an additional $20 million of donations funded from “net fees paid to them by the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to support additional COVID-19 relief.” According to a proxy statement released by SVB ahead of the bank’s 2021 shareholder meeting, the bank donated $20 million to its own non-profit foundation to support “diversity and community causes over the next two years.” The SVB Foundation’s 990 tax form for 2020 confirms its receipt of the $20 million donation, but none of the $131,998 grants or contributions disclosed on the form, which is the latest available to the public, were made to BLM organizations.
The final $650,000 in the Claremont database came from “a 2:1 employee charitable gift matching program for donations supporting ‘justice and equity for Black Americans,’ which raised nearly $400,000. It allocated a further $250,00 from the SVB Foundation to support grants for social justice organizations including the NAACP, ACLU, and National Urban League,” according to Claremont. Black Lives Matter was not one of the organizations listed.
The $73 million number circulating online was the original total displayed on the database before the Claremont Institute issued a correction retracting the inclusion of two donations of $1.2 million and $1.6 million that were counted incorrectly.
None of the donations attributed to SVB on the Claremont database were made directly to the organization known as Black Lives Matter.
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