**FILE** Courtesy of the National Bankers Association
**FILE** Courtesy of the National Bankers Association

The National Bankers Association has announced a new initiative that aims to close the racial wealth gap in America by providing services and support to minority-owned banks and their surrounding communities.

The National Bankers Community Alliance — a nonprofit affiliate of the association — will have a four-pronged approach focusing on financial wellness, technical assistance, research and impact assessment and capital aggregation and collaboration, the association said Tuesday in announcing the new initiative.

“With America’s attention focused on equity and inclusion, we want to drive long-term systemic change and impact policy,” said Nicole Elam, president and CEO of the association. “We want to work with corporations and policymakers to capitalize, modernize and strengthen minority banks.”

White families have the highest level of both median and mean family wealth, at $188,200 and $983,400, respectively, the association said, citing the 2019 FDIC Survey of Consumer Finances. Black and Hispanic families’ median and mean wealth is less than 15% that of white families, at $24,100 and $142,500, respectively.

To that end, the Alliance will work with minority-owned banks to provide their communities with:

• local impact scorecards highlighting opportunities in underserved communities.
• financial wellness education and resources.
• culturally-competent technical assistance.
• entrepreneurial and first-time homebuyer training and resources.
• access to innovative capital and programs to acquire and grow assets.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the racial wealth gap among minority communities,” said Dominic Ng, chairman and CEO of Pasadena, Calif.-based East West Bank, a member of the association. “Now is the time for our communities to come together to support the formation of the National Bankers Community Alliance and its critical work to narrow this gap. The East West Bank Foundation is proud to be a founding member providing the seed funding to help launch this effort.”

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This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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