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$40M Neighborhood Investment Aims to Close Chicago’s Wealth Gap

$40M investment by @jpmorgan to close #Chicago wealth gap, build assets in communities of color Tweet This

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Last Thursday, I was pleased to join JPMorgan Chase as it announced its $40 million commitment to economic opportunity on Chicago’s South and West sides. Through this significant investment, JPMorgan Chase will deepen the institution’s support towards the preparation of residents for in-demand, good paying jobs; investment in neighborhood revitalization; growth in underserved businesses; and financial health for families.

These components are fundamental pillars in building wealth in communities of color in Chicago—and this investment represents a 50% increase in the financial institution’s philanthropic contributions here.

Many families and communities of color have been essentially locked out of the regional economy due to structural inequities and one-size-fits-all economic and service-based approaches. Only deep, sustained support can help slow the growing wealth divide between African-American and Latino families, and their white counterparts.

In 2016, several important research efforts significantly expanded the dialogue and elevated the interest in issues of inequity facing the Chicago region. Key among them were a report by CFED (now Prosperity Now) on the Racial Wealth Divide in Chicago, supported by JPMorgan Chase, and the Metropolitan Planning Council and Urban Institute’s Cost of Segregation Study, supported by the MacArthur Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust.

The Racial Wealth Divide study revealed that 33% of Chicago’s African-American households and 27% of Chicago Latino households have zero net worth. 67% of African-American and 71% of Latino households in Chicago are in liquid asset poverty, meaning they could not withstand three months of losing their income without falling below the poverty line.

The Cost of Segregation study then documented what it is costing us all to live so separately, comparing the Chicago region to the 100 largest regions in the country. According to the Cost of Segregation, if the Chicago region reduced our level of segregation between African Americans and whites to the national median, incomes for African Americans would rise by an average of $2,982 per person per year—or an overall increase of $4.4 billion in additional income in our region overall. The region’s homicide rate would drop by 30%—the equivalent of saving 229 lives in the city of Chicago in 2016. And 83,000 more people in the Chicago region would hold bachelor’s degrees across racial demographic groups.

The Chicago Urban League’s CULtivate series on racial segregation and the University of Illinois at Chicago Great Cities Institute’s Tale of Three Cities have continued to build the case that segregation and inequitable investment impacts us all and, more importantly, that inaction is simply too costly.

If the Chicago region reduced our level of segregation to the national median, incomes for African Americans would rise by an average of $2,982 per person per year—an increase of $4.4 billion in additional income in our region. The homicide rate would drop by 30%—the equivalent of saving 229 lives in the city of Chicago in 2016.

Many families and communities of color have been essentially locked out of the regional economy due to structural inequities and one-size-fits-all economic and service-based approaches. Only deep, sustained and catered support can help slow the growing wealth divide between African-American and Latino families, and their white counterparts.

This is why we are happy to invest with Chase on efforts to make our small business financial resources and technical assistance work better for minority-owned businesses. This is why we are pleased to invest in organizations providing entrepreneurial training that is catered to the unique needs and challenges of aspiring minority-owned enterprises, connecting them to expanded networks. And, this is why we are proud to work on efforts that better educate small business owners about and connect them to responsible lenders to combat the pervasive predatory lending that disproportionately impacts minority businesses.

In 2015, The Chicago Community Trust announced its strategic commitment to advancing equity and supporting economic vitality in the region, goals that are entirely dependent upon many partners and champions. As such, we are excited to celebrate leaders like JP Morgan Chase that are advancing this work. I am excited to follow the many organizations that will be deepening their asset building, workforce and business development, and community-based investment work as a result of this expanded investment in Chicago.