US Bank commits $1.15m to Black-led partners to “close racial gaps”
US Bank’s community development arm has issued $1.15m in grants to Black-led partners as part of the bank’s “emphasis on closing racial gaps”.
The grants are part of the bank’s overall $116 million commitment to addressing social and economic inequities.
“This emphasis on closing racial gaps is consistent with our ongoing allocation and investment strategy,” says William Carson, vice president of the community arm.
He says the grants are intended to provide “immediate funding” in the wake of COVID-19 to Black communities.
Some 15 partners will receive grants from $50,000 to $100,000, whilst the African American Alliance will receive $150,000.
Past accusations of racism against US Bank
In 2014, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) compiled a list of more than 40 cities, including US Bank’s hometown. It alleged the Minneapolis-based bank had illegally discriminated “neighbourhoods of colour.”
US Bank fervently denied these claims at the time. The alliance alleged that “US Bank fail[ed] to perform basic maintenance and marketing tasks for its bank-owned foreclosures in African American and Latino neighbourhoods to the same standard as in white neighbourhoods.”
In 2016, America’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rejected these allegations of racial discrimination. This was in part because US Bank was just a trustee for the majority (275) of houses in question.
Out of the 119 properties it did investigate, the HUD said the patterns of discrimination were not strong enough. It also branded the photo evidence unreliable.
In 2013, Wells Fargo agreed to pay the same non-profit alliance $42 million. The NFHA had hoped to win a similar amount from US Bank.
Who is US Bank’s $1.15m grant going to exactly?
US Bank listed all the partners it will be issuing grants to. They include Orlando-based Black Business Investment Fund, Virginia’s Capital Impact Partners, Louisiana’s Liberty Bank & Trust and, perhaps most notably, Nashville’s The Housing Fund.
“Grants will be used for direct support to Black businesses, families and individuals to offset financial stresses caused by COVID-19,” the bank says in a statement.
The African American Alliance, which represents 29 Black-led community development funds, boosts capital and financial services for African American-owned businesses.