According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, a community is defined as a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society; a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests.
Financial Literacy and Wealth Creation although critically important and necessary elements, will not automatically result in Community Development. The boom in Black stock and home ownership over the last 10 years alone makes this clear.
Unless there is a concerted and determined effort to ensure that individual financial literacy and wealth creation for couples and families translates into broader economic development, neighborhoods and communities will not experience a lasting improvement in their quality of life.
Measurements of income, savings, and net worth are irrelevant to community development if they don’t affect incarceration and crime rates; entrepreneurship and business development and growth; and school performance and recreational activity among youth.
Here, there are a variety approaches to community development that have value - from neighborhood watch programs, parent-teacher associations and mentorship programs to faith-based initiatives to the unique role played by community development corporations (CDCs) to the insights of urban planners and political economists to the unique programs, pilots and models created by public-private partnerships to reputable multi-level or mass networking models to the initiatives, and economic nationalism models and programs of Marcus Garvey, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Claude Anderson, Ken Bridges, Muhammad Nassardeen, and Amos Wilson. Each of these efforts and perspectives can inform meaningful and lasting community development. In the coming months, the BBI will identify and shed light on local grassroots community development initiatives, and the folks on the ground that are doing the much needed work to uplift our communities. We hope that you will find their work worthy of your support.
In addition to the community development approaches mentioned above, the Black Bank Initiative (BBI) believes that the central role of formal and informal financial intermediation and aggregation - minority owned commercial lending institutions, investment clubs, and rotating credit associations, in particular - has been forgotten, marginalized or underutilized.
From taking foreclosed properties off of the banks of books; to better monitoring of the application of the Community Reinvestment Act; from better utilization of fiscal incentives of the Community Renewal Act; to making investments to local small business owners; and turning family reunions into opportunities to provide capital to entrepreneurs, finance college students, and disseminate financial literature; BBI is advocating for a paradigm shift in the way Black-owned lending institutions, investment clubs and rotating credit associations function.