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The Inclusive Economy

Charting a Hopeful Path: Launching the African-American Financial Capability Initiative

By Solana Rice on 01/07/2016 @ 04:00 PM

Tags: Financial Capability, News, Racial Wealth Divide

The racial wealth divide in the US is growing, and becoming increasingly entrenched. An interconnected web of individuals, institutions and systems acting in racialized ways have brought us to an economy with overwhelming disparities in opportunity and reward. In turn, hope can be elusive when considering that an African-American household headed by a college graduate has less wealth on average than a white household headed by someone who dropped out of high school, or that African-American families own just $1 in wealth for every $13 of white wealth. The enormity of this situation was just as palpable as the excitement and hope in the room as 35 community leaders from across the Northwest gathered last month to officially kick off the African-American Financial Capability Initiative, which has been made possible thanks to the Northwest Area Foundation.

The Northwest Area Foundation is investing $1.2 million to support six "communities of practice"—cohorts of organizations with a history of working together to address issues facing African-American communities. The goal of the Initiative is to improve and protect the economic security of African-Americans in the Northwest by strengthening asset-building services, sharpening policy advocacy strategies and growing leadership capacity among these cohorts in the five most populated African-American communities in Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington. As part of the Initiative, CFED will partner with the NAACP Economic Department to provide data and technical assistance to each community of practice. We will support groups as they take stock of their organizational capacities and their community’s strengths, and identify strategies for working together to increase financial stability for African-Americans.

This work will be led at the local level by six organizations that are well-respected by the African-American communities they serve. These convening organizations have previously collaborated and built rapport with the members of their cohorts on issues pertaining to economic justice. These attributes will be key to developing strategies that build individual organizational capacity while also creating a lasting infrastructure for better, more robust service delivery and stronger advocacy capacity at the state and local levels.

The six communities of practice are convened by the following organizations:

African-American Leadership Forum, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

Centerstone, Seattle, WA

The Directors Council, Des Moines, IA

Minneapolis Urban League, Minneapolis, MN

Self Enhancement, Inc., Portland, OR

Tacoma Urban League, Tacoma, WA

As our engagement with these vibrant communities deepens, we look forward to sharing their progress with the field. Stay tuned!

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