It’s time to scale up what works in order to close the staggering racial wealth gap and increase financial security for all Americans.
In 1980, Self-Help founder Martin Eakes and his colleague Bonnie Wright held a bake sale in the town of Halifax, North Carolina. This “capital campaign” raised a whopping $77 to put toward launching their vision: a new credit union to increase economic vitality in their community by lending to underfunded entrepreneurs — namely, local women and people of color who were overwhelmingly rejected for loans by mainstream lenders.
“We discovered that black and Latino families had one-tenth the family wealth that white families had,” Eakes explained in an interview with the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. “And that single fact, in my view, is perhaps the most unacceptable fact in the modern U.S. economy.” Eakes realized they couldn’t achieve their goals without pivoting their work to address this reality. -Martin Eakes
So it’s all the more troubling that, despite this knowledge, the staggering racial wealth disparity that Eakes uncovered isn’t just a disturbing quirk of North Carolina. It exists at a national scale, and it’s continuing to worsen.
There’s more than enough research and analysis from all angles to give us a clear understanding of the problem. What we’re missing is serious investment in solutions.
We’re equipped with everything we need to move the needle: a clear understanding of the problem, a powerful, a data-driven intervention point, and a number of reliable blueprints for designing solutions that work. All that’s missing is the urgency and commitment to scale up.
But we’ll need millions more if we hope to change course, create more equitable pathways to homeownership, and close a wealth gap that has been allowed to grow unchecked for decades.
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