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Bank of America pledged a $1 billion donation over four years to invest in communities of color and minority-owned businesses.
The funding aims to address inequalities perpetuated by systemic racism and economic redlining.
Bank of America has pledged $1 billion over four years in an effort to help businesses recover from the coronavirus-induced recession, with an emphasis on those owned and operated by people of color. In a press release, the bank said that the funding will largely go toward facilitating economic mobility and development programs, while adding an emphasis on health services as the pandemic drags on. Areas of focus for the funding will include health, job training, reskilling (teach someone how to do a new job) and upskilling (teaching someone new skills to help them in their current job), small business support and housing aid. “Underlying economic and social disparities that exist have accelerated and intensified during the global pandemic,” said Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan in the statement. “The events of the past week have created a sense of true urgency that has arisen across our nation, particularly in view of the racial injustices we have seen in the communities where we work and live. We all need to do more.”
Systemic racial disparities have been at the forefront of the national dialogue as the coronavirus disproportionately affects the health of communities of color, and economic headwinds have historically posed a greater threat to minority-owned businesses.
The donation also comes during a national conversation on race, sparked by the recent death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes despite Floyd’s cries stating he couldn’t breathe.
Chauvin was subsequently fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and protests have raged across the country since.
An independent autopsy on Monday reported that Floyd's cause of death was asphyxia, contradicting one from the local medical examiner.
The circumstances of Floyd’s slaying harken to the 2014 death of Eric Garner, a black man from Staten Island who died when an NYPD officer placed him in a chokehold. Garner’s death helped paved the way for the Black Lives Matter movement to gain national traction.
Bank of America aims to combat social inequality with resources specifically allocated to disadvantaged people and communities of color.
The financial institution’s initiative will specifically develop opportunities including coronavirus testing, telemedicine and flu vaccination clinics, partnerships with historical black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic community institutions for hiring opportunities, client and vendor support for minority-owned businesses, career enhancement programs and investment for affordable housing through the bank’s existing Community Development Banking program.
The programs will be implemented through Bank of America’s 90 local market presidents and non-U.S. country executives.