When Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago received a call earlier this year asking if he would support a new jobs initiative from JPMorgan Chase, he replied with his typical bluntness.
"I said, 'Of course, but I'm not looking for more work,'" Emanuel said in a phone interview. "I need resources."
On Thursday, Emanuel and Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's chairman and chief executive, plan to announce "New Skills at Work," a five-year, $250 million initiative focused on filling the skills gaps in some of the largest U.S. and European job markets, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and London.
The plan comes at a time when JPMorgan is facing large fines and a lot of regulatory scrutiny. It recently reached a $13 billion settlement over its questionable mortgage practices in the run-up to the financial crisis and is under investigation for its hiring practices in China.
Announcing a new philanthropy initiative after suffering a reputational blow is not uncommon on Wall Street. In 2009, Goldman Sachs announced its largest single charitable contribution, a $500 million small-business assistance program, after facing harsh criticism about how much it paid its executives in the wake of a government bailout.
Dimon dismissed a connection between the bank's recent troubles and its jobs initiative.
"JPMorgan Chase, for 100 years, for 200 years, has always tried to be a great community citizen," Dimon said.
JPMorgan Chase plans to commit $50 million annually, beginning in 2014, to research and training programs across the country and in Europe. It also plans to announce specific grants and partnerships early next year.