June 5, 2019 / 7:26 AM / 14 days ago

Wells Fargo to donate $1 billion toward affordable housing by 2025

FILE PHOTO: A Wells Fargo logo is seen in New York City, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co said on Wednesday it will narrow the focus of its philanthropy toward three causes including affordable housing and will donate $1 billion (£787.1 million) to housing over the next few years.

The San Francisco-based bank named Brandee McHale to be the new head of the Wells Fargo Foundation which will be focused on addressing housing affordability, improving financial literacy and growing small businesses. McHale joins the bank from Citigroup Inc and replaces Jon Campbell whose retirement was previously announced.

Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest U.S. bank, has ramped up its charitable giving following a profit boost from tax reform and in the wake of a wide-ranging sales scandal which has badly tarnished its reputation and weighed down its financial performance.

Wells Fargo gave away $444 million to charitable causes last year, potentially positioning it as the top corporate cash giver in the country. The bank has pledged to donate 2% of its after-tax profit annually.

As part of its renewed focus on promoting home-ownership, Wells Fargo said it will donate $1 billion to organizations that support affordable housing through 2025 and launch a $20 million grant to encourage organizations to find new solutions for the lack of lack of low-to-moderate income housing options.

Wells Fargo has already donated over $460 million in down-payment assistance grants since 2012.

By focusing on housing, financial literacy and small businesses the bank will be donating more money toward causes that align closely with its business expertise, spokeswoman Jennifer Dunn said.

Wells Fargo will still support causes like arts, education and disaster relief through local projects but broader initiatives will be focused on the three primary areas.

Reporting by Imani Moise; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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