A new program focused on addressing racial wealth gap in Black and Brown communities has launched in Queensbridge Houses, the largest housing development in North America, by providing 25 young individuals with their first bank accounts.
Community Capacity Development (CCD), a Queens based nonprofit working to create financial empowerment and change the culture of violence in the communities they serve, held a Dec. 23 press conference to celebrate the start of their “Intergenerational Wealth Program,” in collaboration with Urban Upbound’s Federal Credit Union.
K Bain, executive director of CCD, was proud to announce their organization raised the necessary funding to activate the bank accounts for 25 young people in an effort to begin their journey to financial literacy.
“When we look at the school and educational system, the warehouses where young people go to learn, they are not taught fiscal responsibility,” said Bain. “Our young people are not being taught how to ensure financial health, in a time where we see the pre-existing conditions in our neighborhoods and communities are leading us to death at a rate of 3,000 a day.”
CCD cites a 2019 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) survey that found Black households are five and a half times more likely to not have bank accounts than their white counterparts. Additionally, they note Queensbridge Houses’ median household income of $15,843, which is well below the poverty line, according to a New York Times 2018 report.
Bain said the “perpetual, systemic disinvestment in communities of color” is what at times leads to the violence that occurs in those same communities.
“But we have a solution,” Bain said.
Bishop Mitchell Taylor, co-founder and CEO of Urban Upbound, echoed the need to teach the youth how to “manage money,” not just “count money,” at the event.
“Our geography, where we come from, does not have to control our destiny,” said Taylor. “You see a group of young people that have made up their minds that today they are going to take control of their financial future.”
Two of the young people who opened their first accounts, 16-year-old Nakhia and 17-year-old Raelynn, thanked the CCD program and Bishop Taylor for giving them a chance at financial literacy.
“I’m willing to learn anything they teach me and better myself financially and grow as a person,” said Nakhia.
In groups of two, to ensure social distancing, the young people went inside Urban Upbound’s Federal Credit Union in Long Island City to open up their first bank accounts.
The “Intergenerational Wealth Program,” which will focus in part on budgeting, investment and credit 101, was developed in response to the articulated needs of youth in Queensbridge Housing who are currently participating in CCD’s Youth Builder Program. The Youth Builder Program employs about 20 people between the ages of 14 and 24 who help participants develop critical thinking skills, train on conflict resolution, get exposed to arts and culture, among other initiatives.
CCD will be partnering with other Black-owned and operated banks and credit unions throughout the city for the “Intergenerational Wealth Program,” including Carver Federal Savings Bank, Industrial Bank and Greenwood Bank.
Bain called on wealthier community members to help with the program. He hopes they will be able to open 100 more bank accounts for community members, including seniors, by the end of January.
“Our goal is to significantly contribute to increasing financial aptitude and inspiring economic mobility in communities of color around the nation,” said Bain.
Additional reporting by Gabriele Holtermann.