The racial wealth gap as it exists now is debilitating for minority families across the country. Systematic racism, disparities in income, education, and more in the United States contribute to why minority families have far less wealth on average than White families. However, the widening gap may soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new initiative.

The National Bankers Community Alliance (NBCA), which is powered by the National Bankers Association (NBA), has recently created an advanced new financial wellness pilot program to ensure that minority communities are actively developing healthy financial habits. Aptly named Our Money Matters (OMM), the pilot program will include a curriculum based on artificial intelligence. A whopping thirteen of the NBA’s member Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) will be participating in the inaugural program. Together, they will be able to collaborate and learn about healthy finance behaviors, engage in mainstream banking, and more. The MDIs will even be able to take advantage of in-person counseling.

“Our partnership with the National Bankers Community Alliance is a mutual commitment to further promote the importance of financial wellness and financial confidence for America’s underserved communities,” said Sharon Kent, the Our Money Matters Program Director. “This is an opportunity to significantly improve the financial health of minority communities and younger consumers to close the racial wealth gap.”

The need for the program can not be overstated. The Federal Reserve recently reported that while 12% of White households are unbanked or underbanked, it’s far worse for minorities. It’s been estimated that the rates are 40% for Black households and  30% for Hispanic households. According to recent reports by the Federal Reserve, 40% of Black households and 30% of Hispanic households are unbanked or underbanked, compared to 12% of white households. To be fully “banked” means that they have a bank account and have not needed to utilize any alternative financial services within 12 months such as check cashing, payday loans or advances, pawn shop loans, or tax refund advances. “Underbanking” is a sign that the available banking services these communities have are insufficient in meeting their financial needs and essentially push them towards the use of those financial services. 

The OMM program has been a concerted effort. The NBCA is partnering with the HBCU Community Development Action Coalition (CDAC), and the program is powered by a $500,00 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation. It will also partner with iGrad, which is serving as the technology team behind OMM’s platform to provide AI technology like a customized financial wellness website, and a way to reward consumers for improved financial behaviors! 

“For 95 years, members of the National Bankers Association have worked hard to strengthen the financial health of minority communities,” said Nicole Elam, President, and CEO of the National Bankers Association and Executive Director of the National Bankers Community Alliance. “As banking and financial services evolve, customers have a greater need for innovation and for information to help them manage their finances. NBCA and HBCU CDAC share common interests in the promotion, advancement, and well-being of underserved communities and the advancement of wealth creation through actionable financial wellness training.”

To learn more about how the Our Money Matters (OMM) pilot program supports NBCA’s Financial Wellness pillar towards providing training, programs, and services to underserved households, click here.