Like so many organizations and corporate entities that have found unique ways to help communities of color recover from the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Bank has devised a plan to assist Black families, individuals and businesses hit hardest. According to Greg Cunningham, U.S. Bank Chief Diversity Officer, the bank has offered the following relief resources for those in need from Black consumers to Black small business owners:
• COVID-19 Resources –Financial Assistance Programs including Mortgage Assistance, Paycheck Protection Programs, IRA & Retirement planning services and Stimulus payment assistance.
• COVID-19 Relief/Recovery – Philanthropic support of local non-profits and organizations that support minority businesses by helping facilitate nearly $150 million dollars in relief capital to ensure some of the most vulnerable communities are protected.
• Diversity & Inclusion –Joining forces with long-standing partners like the Executive Leadership Council to help underserved Black communities and beyond through a stronger commitment for inclusion within their organizations.
I spoke with Cunningham recently about the bank’s plans to help these communities. “We believe it is our responsibility to help close the gaps in our most vulnerable and underserved communities. We do that by working with all stakeholders (communities, customers and employees) and pulling in the resources of our entire company,” he said. “This includes supporting customers through our products and services, supporting small businesses through meaningful partnerships and communities through investments in sustainable outcomes and supporting our employees as they work with our customers. We do not have all the answers, but we will continue to work with and through partners to provide resources and investment in our most vulnerable community members.”
More specifically, Cunningham says the bank has committed to $30 million to communities for COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts and facilitated an additional $50 million in capital to seven Community Development Financial Institutions that focus on supporting businesses in low-to-moderate income communities. “It started with a new Pay Premium Program for front-line employees and a $30 million investment in communities. That $30 million investment included critical local/national support for small business and communities through partnerships with Operation Hope, LISC and the United Way,” he says. “Our tax credit and community investment subsidiary, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC), facilitated $50 million in capital to seven community development financial institution (CDFI) customers, helping them provide loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program, and those CDFIs were focused on supporting women and minority-owned businesses and low-to-moderate income communities.”
One of the CDFIs is the Black Business Investment Fund in Florida.
Other examples of support include the bank’s support of Minority Deposit Institutions (MDIs) including our ongoing mentorship of African-American owned First Independence Bank in Detroit as part of the U.S. Treasury Mentor-Protégé program. And in Minneapolis, Cunningham reveals, the bank is proud of their support of the African American Leadership Forum, which is providing direct technical assistance to black-owned businesses. “We were the first corporation to give a grant in support of small business in the CamdenTown neighborhood servicing,” he acknowledges, “primarily, African American entrepreneurs and business owners.”