Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank unveils broad multi-million dollar Black-centric commitment following George Floyd tragedy

Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank unveils broad multi-million dollar Black-centric commitment following George Floyd tragedy

BCN Staff – Feb. 18, 2021 — Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank, located at the epicenter of the George Floyd protest last summer, today finally unveiled key details of its long-awaited promise to help build wealth while redefining how the nation’s fifth largest bank serves Black-centric communities and people of color.

Calling its new initiative, the U.S. Bank Access Commitment, the Minnesota banking giant said it will advance a long-term approach bringing the strengths of its U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. (USBCDC), corporate social responsibility and its business lines into play. In doing so, U.S. Bank said it will help build wealth while redefining how the bank serves diverse communities and provides more opportunities for diverse employees.

“We believe access to capital for minority small business, housing and homeownership and workforce advancement creates opportunities for systemic change,” said Andy Cecere, U.S. Bank chairman, president and CEO. “U.S. Bank Access Commitment is our approach to building wealth and supporting individuals and small business owners through a series of business initiatives throughout 2021 and beyond. We are committed to be part of the solution.”

According to Cecere, the Access Commitment will focus on three primary areas: supporting businesses owned by people of color, helping individuals and communities of color advance economically and enhancing career opportunities for employees and prospective employees. The ongoing work – which will include projects from across U.S. Bank’s diverse portfolio of businesses – builds on the $116 million commitment made by U.S. Bank in 2020 including increased supplier spend, innovative products, services and transformative customer experiences and long-term place-based partnerships with the goal of addressing the persistent racial wealth gap, starting with the Black community.

This initial launch includes:

  •       A new $25 million microbusiness fund focused on businesses owned by women of color
  •       A mortgage program focused on homeownership education and hiring
  •       A focus on building sustained wealth as part of U.S. Bank’s wealth management business
  •       Financial inclusion partnerships
  •       Supply chain financing focused on diverse businesses
  •       Customized employee leadership development
  •       A change to how U.S. Bank fills open positions

Through its U.S. Bank Foundation and namesake tax credit and community investment subsidiary of U.S. Bank, the Minneapolis banking group said it will provide $25 million in grants and investments through a new microbusiness fund for businesses owned by women of color. The fund is focused on providing access to capital, technical assistance and networking. USBCDC will provide $20 million in debt capital to Black-led and women-focused community development financial institutions (CDFIs). U.S. Bank Foundation will provide $5 million in grants to support expansion, capacity building, technical assistance and mentorship/networking. More on the fund, including selected partners will be shared in the coming weeks.

Among its other initiatives, U.S. Bank said it was expanding finance and capital access opportunities for diverse businesses, while also doubling its Black-owned suppliers within the next 12 months. Before the COVID-19 pandemic and George Floyd protest that touched most of the nation in 2020, U.S. Bank joined the Department of Treasury’s Mentor/Protégé program to provide vital support to minority-owned banks in the fall of 2019.

Among other things, the Midwest region banking group said it will also introduce an inhouse program to advance Black homeownership and increase Black representation in the largely white mortgage industry. Through its technology and operations business, U.S. Bank said it also made an equity investment in Goalsetter, a Black-owned kids and family finance app that provides a next-generation, education-first banking experience, focused on financial literacy.

U.S. Bank also said it recently conducted a survey* of approximately 4,600 people to better understand the wealth management needs of various populations (Black, Asian, Hispanic and Caucasian). Early findings of this survey found that most Black respondents felt their community was at a disadvantage compared to the general population when it comes to wealth accumulation.

The bank said it will unveil full results of the survey over the next several weeks, with findings used to help inform a broader initiative to build wealth in communities of color. Listening and learning are key drivers in determining U.S. Bank’s Building Black Wealth next steps.

The nationwide financial group, which banking footprint extends to 26 states, also said it was committed to career development and providing leadership opportunities for Black leaders and managers within the company. Bank officials said the company now offers leadership development for all employees and will expand opportunities for both early- and mid-career employees and Black executives in partnership with the McKinsey Black Leadership Academy.

To date more than 150 executives are participating in the program. U.S. Bank is also preparing to launch a second year of its Managing Committee Sponsorship Program, which pairs executive leaders with women, Black and Hispanic leaders to increase visibility and accelerate their advancement.

Although most of the nation’s top financial institutions, including the larger JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, have all announced larger social responsibility campaigns aimed at Black consumers in response to the George Floyd protests, there was broader interest in U.S. Bank’s response due to its proximity to the infamous police incident last summer.

Last summer, Floyd died after being arrested by police outside a shop in downtown Minneapolis at the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Ave., less than 10 minutes away from the U.S. Bank headquarters and the namesake U.S. Bank Stadium.

Footage of the arrest on 25 May played out on TV and social media for weeks, showing white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on 46-year Black man’s neck while he was pinned to the ground for 8 minutes and 43 seconds. Floyd died of suffocation and Chauvin, 44, has since been charged with murder.

Transcripts of police body cam footage showed Floyd said more than 20 times he could not breathe as he was restrained by the officers. “I can’t breathe,” a phrase that first originated with the death of New Yorker Eric Garner after being placed in a chokehold by New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, became a rallying with the Black Lives Matter and social justice movement and swept the nation last summer.

In response to the George Floyd tragedy and civil unrest in Minneapolis and across the nation, U.S. Bank earlier in June announced several investments and initiatives to bridge social and economic gaps and enhance opportunity for people of color.

In Minneapolis, where multiple sites were damaged or burned during the civil unrest, U.S. Bank said then it will break ground soon on a new headquarters so it can continue to support the Black-centric Lake Street and North Minneapolis areas with banking services and branches. The company also said it will also work to repair other damaged branches and facilities across the country where the U.S. Bank brand was targeted by some protesters for its connection to Minneapolis and George Floyd.

“We chose to serve these communities, and we will not turn our backs or abandon the neighborhoods where so many are hurting right now,” said Cecere. “We will continue to provide jobs, banking services and financial education in the areas that have been traumatized during the past week.”

“George Floyd’s life had meaning and purpose. We need to do what we can to give the heartbreak that has followed meaning and purpose, as well,” Cecere continued. “If we are truly going to draw strength from diversity, we have to do better. We have to create opportunities that bridge gaps, that generate economic prosperity, and that allow people to achieve their potential.”

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