In the Western New York running community, J.P. Morgan has become synonymous with the annual early summer Corporate Challenge race.
The financial firm sponsored its 34th Buffalo Corporate Challenge on Thursday as more than 12,000 runners from more than 400 companies participated in the event held in Delaware Park.
Through mergers and acquisitions over the years (namely with Chase Bank), the corporate challenge has been a constant for J.P. Morgan in Western New York.
“It’s tremendously important to our brand,” said Bill Dehmer, J.P. Morgan market president for Upstate New York.
“It’s tremendously important to our image. People associate J.P. Morgan with this race.”
In addition to raising money for charities, the race is meant to build a sense of unity in a workforce. Employees compete against other companies, put together teams of runners, select a captain, design a uniform and, after the race, enjoy food and beverages with their coworkers.
“It’s a great thing to be associated with,” Dehmer said. “It’s fun, there’s camaraderie, there’s teamwork, there’s competition. It’s all those things rolled into one.”
Buffalo’s history with the race stretches longer than any other city’s, save for New York. While Dehmer acknowledges he’d like the race to grow, he said there’s no specific expansion plans other than continuing to promote the event.
“This race has been here for 34 years,” Dehmer said. “It’ll be here next year. It’s a constant. The best way to expand it is with more people. You get more people to run, more companies to participate, we’ll grow.”
Each year, J.P Morgan donates a portion of the proceeds from the event to a charity on behalf of the field of runners. This year’s beneficiary is the National Academy Foundation.
The foundation promotes career readiness in high school students by running career academies in high schools across the country, focusing on finance, hospitality and tourism, engineering and health science among other subjects.
Bill Taylor, associate vice president of network engagement for the National Academy Foundation, wasn’t yet sure how big the check his foundation would be receiving after the race Thursday, but he said he’s pleased just to be associated with the event.
“It’s such a privilege to work with a corporate partner like J.P. Morgan, a company that understands the impact it can have on young people and realizes that its future workforce is in high school right now.”
The money will go to furthering the impact of the already successful career academy endeavor.
“We support over 600 academies in over 40 states including D.C and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Taylor said. “We’ve got 70,000 students in our network. We graduate students at over a 97 percent rate. On average, our students make 17,000 more per year than their peers after graduation. It’s a proven model that works. Our students go on to be successful and we know we make a lifelong impact on their career.”