Bank Forward Plans Nov. 15 VC Fundraiser

new foundation promises to help local kids with life-threatening illnesses. The Forward Foundation, an organization backed by Bank Forward, may give families of ill children some peace of mind when it comes to meeting the financial burdens associated with extended illnesses. A fundraising event will be held in Valley City on Thursday. Money raised will go toward helping local families.

The Valley City fundraiser will be lunchtime at Bank Forward, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring a bowl of chili with sides, a bottle of water, and a candy bar for $7. All proceeds will go to the Forward Foundation.
“The Forward Foundation’s mission is to support children experiencing a life-threatening health crisis by providing financial assistance to eliminate financial obstacles in order to radically transform the financial future of children and their families.” according to Toby Kommer, CFO of Bank Forward and founder of the Forward Foundation. He saw the need for such an organization when a friend’s child went through nine months of cancer treatment at a cost of more than $2.5 million.

The Forward Foundation is different than other charities in a number of ways, said Kommer. First, because Bank Forward covers the foundation’s administrative costs, 100 percent of the money raised goes directly to the children and their families. In addition Bank Forward allows its employees to volunteer during working hours and the company will match employee donations up to $50,000 per year.

Another difference is the amounts of the anticipated donations to families. Other charities may be able to donate a few thousand dollars, and the community may hold fundraisers and donate a few dollars to the family, but Kommer hopes the average donation from the Forward Foundation will be around $250,000.

The bulk of a donation should go toward medical expenses, but some of the money can go toward things like housing for medical treatments away from home a Make A Wish-type purchases The foundation also plans to provide insurance and financial experts who can work with the patient’s insurance company and negotiate hospital bills to lower costs, Kommer added.

The Forward Foundation can do this because it works only with a few beneficiaries at a time, and the beneficiary has to be located in a Bank Forward community, but not necessarily a Bank Forward client. And all Bank Forward Communities are small communities in North Dakota and Minnesota. (For a list of Bank Forward communities, visit

The foundation’s board of directors is made up of Bank Forward employees, according to Kommer. But not just the company’s higher-ups. Anyone from tellers to the highest ranking employees who are interested in serving on the board will be considered, he said.

Choosing a Forward Foundation beneficiary will be done differently than the way other charities choose, said Kommer. Because the beneficiaries will come from relatively small communities, many of the beneficiaries will be recommended by word-of-mouth, not vetted through social service organizations or considered based on the family’s financial situation.
“A lot of our employees know someone in the community whose child is really sick.” said Kommer.

The Forward Foundation hopes to be up and running in the next several months with help from community fundraisers.

For more information contact Teresa Tangen, Invest Forward at (701) 845-1220.