Two major banks have announced initiatives to address inequalities in minority communities through a combination of grants, academic training and professional mentoring.
It comes as companies continue to take action to address inequalities and improve corporate diversity following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May 2020, which triggered mass protests across the US.
US Bank’s Community Development Corporation (USBCDC) has earmarked $1.15 million in grants for Black-led partner organizations to support Black businesses, families and individuals and to relieve some of the strains from the Covid-19 pandemic. The program is in partnership with the US Bank Foundation.
William Carson, vice president at USBCDC, said the company’s emphasis on closing racial gaps was consistent with the group’s investment strategy and how it allocated its assets, adding that this approach was a “framework for a lasting impact”.
“These grants will directly support Black communities by providing immediate funding in the wake of COVID-19 and by strengthening relationships between US Bank, our partners, and the communities that we all serve,” he added.
Each community development financial institution (CDFI) will receive grants of between $50,000 to $100,000 while the African American Alliance will also receive $150,000 to support Black-led CDFIs.
Separately, Standard Chartered confirmed a donation of $100,000 to Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA), a non-profit that supports young leaders from under-resourced backgrounds. The donation is part of a wider partnership that will see members of the bank volunteering their time to mentor students, scholars and alumni on resumé writing, interviewing skills and networking.
Torry Berntsen, chief executive officer for the Americas and regional head for corporate and institutional banking at Standard Chartered, described the project as an “extremely important mission” that would hopefully improve the diversity of leadership in society.
“We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to learn, earn and grow,” he said. “Being able to increase economic inclusion for the young talent in the US is a crucial step towards building a prosperous society.”
These projects are the latest in a series of donations and pledges to improve equality across the country. In June, corporate America pledged more than $1.7 billion to address issues of racial justice, according to a Reuters report.
The article suggested that business executives were finding it difficult to align their firms with social causes amid growing pressure from investors to show leadership on society problems.
Since June, many of the US’s biggest banks have pledged donations and grants to various non-profits and CDFIs to support minority causes, as well as working on internal systems to address biases.