A handful of philanthropies have independently dedicated when combined more than $1 billion for Black and underserved communities. Initiatives include a wealth database, financing for businesses and services and upgrades to digital capacity.
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative launched the Black Wealth Data Center (BWDC), which will host the new Racial Wealth Equity Database. The database will aid decisionmakers – including practitioners, elected officials at all levels and philanthropists – as well as journalists working to improve and chronicle economic opportunity by making it easier for them to find and analyze a wide range of factors correlated to economic wellbeing and progress by race.
The new effort will also build a network for leaders and organizations working to create economic progress for Black families and communities. The BWDC is supported by Prosperity Now, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., focused on advancing racial and ethnic economic justice.
Visitors to the Black Wealth Data Center’s website will be able to use the Racial Wealth Equity Database to examine and cross-analyze wealth data by topics such as asset-to-debt ratio, education, employment, homeownership and business ownership. The database also allows users to compare wealth data by race, sex, age, education attainment and geography. The BWDC’s leadership will continuously add datasets and functionality to the database, with an eye toward offering new tools for the field to better interpret racial equity data. BWDC executives will also convene leaders and host events about the power of data to help drive solutions for racial wealth equity.
The need for the BWDC was explained by Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, in January 2020 when he spoke in Tulsa, Okla. while launching the Greenwood Initiative. At that time, Bloomberg addressed “the enormous obstacles that so many Black Americans have faced not only in creating wealth, but in passing assets to their children and grand-children as generations of white families have done.
“I believe that we have the power to build a future where color and capital are no longer related,” Bloomberg added.
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative is a national program focused on accelerating the pace of wealth accumulation for Black individuals and families and addressing systemic underinvestment in Black communities across the United States. Through this initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies supports and works with leaders and organizations across the country to implement, scale and advocate efforts that increase economic and social mobility to reduce wealth disparities in Black communities.
“Leaders and organizations across the country have been challenged by the lack of accessible, contextualized, and high-quality data disaggregated by race – making it difficult to assess what’s working and not working in efforts to make America fairer, grow Black wealth, what assets exist in Black communities, and what we need to do to effect change,” said Garnesha Ezediaro, who leads Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative. “With a commitment to continuously scan and integrate the best data into a comprehensive user-friendly source, the Black Wealth Data Center will be a resource for leaders who are working to ensure that data can be accessed more equitably, progress can be measured more precisely, and that change can come faster.”
To lay the foundation for new data sources and to help contextualize the data, the BWDC is partnering with the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, the Urban Institute and DataKind. BWDC will create additional partnerships with a specific focus on increasing the amount of local data in its database, incorporating data from private sources and collaborating with existing data providers to strengthen data quality.
Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.66 billion during 2021. To learn more about the Black Wealth Data Center and the database, visit blackwealthdata.org.
Another initiative, the Jackson, Miss.-based Hope Credit Union, pledged $1 billion to improve lives in underserved Deep South communities.
The financing is intended to improve lives and help to close racial and gender opportunity gaps in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. HOPE officials project the investment will benefit more than 150,000 people during the next 10 years.
The commitment was catalyzed by a $92.6 million investment in HOPE through the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP). Structured as regulatory capital, each dollar of federal funds allows HOPE to attract up to $10 in deposits. HOPE will use the ECIP funds to import deposits into places that lack local resources needed to finance businesses, homebuyers, affordable rental housing, healthcare facilities, schools, nonprofit service providers and other assets necessary for families and communities to prosper.
“People in the Deep South are incredibly resilient, and can do anything, if they have the tools,” HOPE CEO Bill Bynum said via a statement. “With this historic investment by the Treasury, HOPE will ensure that for families, entrepreneurs and communities in the Delta, in the Black Belt and in rural areas and inner cities throughout the Deep South, access to affordable financial tools will no longer be a barrier to their success.”
In Tuskegee, Ala., The National Business League (NBL) is introducing a campaign to enhance the digital capacity of 1 million Black-owned businesses and grow their revenue by engaging customers through technology. The campaign is being launched as part of the NBL’s 122nd anniversary celebration.
The goal is to transition 1 million Black-owned businesses into the digital economy by 2028. The five-year campaign, the Black Economic Freedom Movement, will kick off in January 2023. The new effort will start with a $1.3 million newly designed organizational technology platform developed to serve as a catalyst for the digital transformation and empowerment of Black-owned businesses.
NBL leaders hope to develop and drive the appropriate digital ecosystem for 3.2 million Black-owned businesses to thrive across America and internationally. The campaign will kick off with the NBL’s regional offices in Detroit, Atlanta and Los Angeles and the national headquarters in Washington, D.C. before moving to the NBL’s largest local chapters in cities, historic towns and settlements with the highest concentration of Black-owned businesses.
The three-point focus of the Black Economic Freedom Movement campaign includes:
League Digitalization: The NBL will become one of the first national trade associations in the U.S. to go completely digital with a $1.3 million technology infrastructure upgrade, including a reimagined website, an online chapter portal, a mobile app, virtual meeting and webinar tools, social media platforms, a resource marketplace and a a learning management system. LMS system.
Digital-Ready Assessment Tool: The NBL will launch its digital-ready online assessment tool to gauge its members’ digital readiness in the marketplace while making a concerted effort to connect technology and mobility resources to help close the digital divide for Black businesses and startups.
Digital Resource Marketplace: The NBL will also deploy online resources to help Black businesses and professional entrepreneurs go digital during the next five years by providing members a digital marketplace to help them educate, promote, grow and hire in cities and chapters.