Virginia Community Capital has received a $1.5 million investment from Robins Foundation, a private family foundation with a 60-year history of leading transformational change in the greater Richmond region through innovative philanthropy. The investment will be directed toward development of affordable housing and projects that support a better quality of life for residents. The commitment includes directing $1.25 million into a LION Note (Local Impact Opportunity Note) with VCC and opening a $250,000 impact deposit account with its banking subsidiary, VCC Bank. “Robins and other institutions are leading innovative investment strategies to positively impact their communities,” said Jane Henderson, CEO of VCC. “Combining impact investing and philanthropy to tackle economic challenges in this region is groundbreaking, and Robins is demonstrating how to leverage the full range of foundation assets for greater community impact.”
American Samoa is finally getting its own full-service bank, and successfully creating only the second public bank in the United States. The Federal Reserve is allowing the Territorial Bank of American Samoa access to the U.S. payments system nearly two years after the bank applied. The decision is a boon to the remote U.S. territory in the South Pacific, where more than half of the households are at, near or below the federal poverty level. It is also a significant development for those far away from American Samoa. The chartering of a new public bank may provide momentum for similar efforts elsewhere. The only still operating public bank in the U.S., the Bank of North Dakota, was created a century ago. States like New Jersey and cities like Seattle and San Francisco are receptive to the idea of forming new public banks as a way to help the local economy.
A new report shows that despite strong job growth since the end of the Great Recession, many working families are worse off that they were in 2007, before the Great Recession began. The latest U.S. Census data shows that three out of every 10 working families were low-income in 2016. In addition, income and wealth gaps between working families at the top and bottom of the economic ladder remain at all-time highs. The report, produced jointly by PRB and The Working Poor Families Project, also found disturbing growing inequality among racial and ethnic groups.
Bloomington, Indiana has introduced itself as the first "CDFI Friendly City", in hopes of establishing a new model to bring national financing to local community development. CDFIs, which serve neighborhoods or groups the financial sector has historically neglected, have expanded in recent years but still aren't reaching many American cities. "More than a quarter of counties in the U.S. have had no CDFI lending in the five years between 2011 and 2015," says Brett Theodos, a principal research associate at the Urban Institute who studies on CDFIs. In December 2017, the Urban Institute released a report breaking down the types of state and local policy that are important for CDFIs to enter a market. There are significant challenges for smaller communities and more rural areas, according to Theodos.
Recently, several large banks have been called out for discriminatory lending practices, including not serving low income areas. For many of those residents, banking services offering personal bank accounts and loans for homes and small businesses, can be difficult to access. But some banks, like Industrial Bank, have made their focus serving those communities. This radio segment explores what it means to live in a "banking desert." Jacquie Boles, Senior Vice President at Industrial Bank, contributes.
Urban Institute has collected data on 274 of the largest US cities and ranked those cities on economic, racial, and overall inclusion across four decades. It also measured economic health to see whether cities could harness growth to improve inclusion. The interactive dataset can be explored online to explore national trends, learn lessons from case-study cities, and dig deeper into your own city.
On April 9, the Treasury Department debuted the first details of a new and far-reaching community-based tax incentive. In 18 states, newly designated zones could see a wave of new investment under a little-known provision of the recent tax overhaul. These opportunity zones are designed to lure investment to the nation's poorest urban, suburban, and rural communities with a powerful tax incentive. By the accounts of some experts, the program could deliver a vital injection to areas that haven't yet recovered from the Great Recession. Yet it could also fuel gentrification in those communities where too much opportunity, too fast, has led to rapid displacement.
In this article authored by Sunrise Banks CEO David Reiling, the possibility of an Amazon-branded checking account is discussed. Reiling examines whether the product can ceate positive social change, and suggests a potential partnership between Amazon and small, innovative banks in addition to larger institutions like JPMorgan Chase. "The key to disruption in any sector is agility," he wrote. "Big banks are far too clunky and siloed for the rapid adaptive innovation required."
If Congress passes a major rollback of banking rules put in place in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, thousands of banks could be freed from a range of federal regulations. Louisiana community bankers say that, unlike large lenders that bundle mortgages together and quickly resell them on the markets, they keep most of their loans. Ken Hale, president and CEO of the Bank of Montgomery, discussed the impact of such regulations on his bank's finances. "In most rural areas, for most community banks, real estate lending is kind of our bread and butter," he said, explaining that federal regulations are unnecessary in his context to determine whether the bank should issue a mortgage.
This article from the American Banker examines the partnership between New Resource Bank in San Francisco and a fintech firm, which aims to reach underserved small-business clients. New Resource, which agreed to sell itself to Amalgamated Bank in New York in December, is delving into an area — working with fintech — that has largely been the domain of larger financial institutions. In doing so, New Resource is taking part in an arrangement that industry observers view as unique given the bank's size. The partnership is enticing for banks looking to grow their C&I portfolios. "I think there's definitely room for niche players," said Ian Benton, a senior digital banking and payments analyst with Javelin Strategy & Research. "That's why bank partnerships make so much sense."