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The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has announced a partnership to support the launch and growth of the National Black Bank Foundation (NBBF), whose co-founder and general counsel is Ashley D. Bell. The Community Foundation is serving as the fiscal sponsor of NBBF as it awaits its final IRS determination letter, which will allow it to act as an independent nonprofit entity, reports BlackNews.com.

The Community Foundation also will provide ongoing administrative services to NBBF by way of back-office support including financial oversight, managing donations to the organization, and amplifying the mission across a network of 800 community foundations across the U.S., thus accelerating NBBF’s ability to grow and scale its impact in local communities.

Black-owned banks have worked to build economic equity for the last century by extending credit for small business loans and home purchases to borrowers that major lenders reject. In minority-majority zip codes, Black banks are often the primary source for fair, non-predatory lending. But countervailing market forces have severely restricted their impact and numbers. In 1976, there were 50 Black-owned banks. Today, there are just 18, and that retrenchment has left many impoverished Black communities without retail banking options. According to the Federal Reserve, 49 percent of Black households were unbanked or underbanked in 2019, compared to just 15 percent of white families.

“Our mission and mandate to our community is to build economic and social equity for all,” said Frank Fernandez, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “Essential to that promise is providing access to banking and wealth building for Black families and businesses. Boosting the infrastructure of Black banks brings more equitable access to financial education, loans and asset building for Black communities. We wanted to support this initiative because at the end of the day, strengthening Black-owned banks ensures that those who have been hit the hardest by systemic racism will now have access to economic opportunity and upward mobility.”

The National Black Bank Foundation’s wholly-owned investment unit, the Black Bank Fund, is making a historic injection of tier 1 capital, expected to reach $250 million by 2025. That capital, in turn, will allow Black banks to make $2.5 billion in new loans to communities of color-critical investments to build wealth.