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JPMorgan Chase commits $20M to closing Baltimore’s racial wealth gap

JPMorgan Chase will contribute $20 million to organizations and projects focused on economic mobility and housing equity in Baltimore, the New York-based bank announced at a Wednesday news conference.  

The funds come as part of a $75 million commitment, in philanthropic capital and flexible, low-cost loans, to addressing racial wealth disparities across the Greater Washington region. 

Of that total, $5 million will go toward the Prioritizing Our Women’s Economic Rise Collaborative, also known as POWER, a collaborative comprised of several Baltimore organizations that will seek to provide training and resources to help low-income Black and Latina women in west Baltimore build wealth. 

“This moment is a full-circle moment for me. It is an important moment for the Black and Latino women in west Baltimore,” Faith Leech, Baltimore’s deputy mayor for equity, health and human services, said at the press conference. 

The collaborative will include the Latino Economic Development Center of Washington, which is leading the project, as well as the University of Maryland Baltimore’s Community Engagement Center, Black Women Build Baltimore, Baltimore-D.C. Building Trades, Byte Back and Baltimore Community Lending.  

POWER aims to provide low-income Black and Latina women in west Baltimore with small business development, skills training and affordable and accessible homeownership. The initiative is especially focused on helping participants develop skills and build businesses in nontraditional sectors where Black and Latina women are traditionally underrepresented, such as technology and real estate. 

According to POWER, 66% of the Black and Latino households in Baltimore live in liquid asset poverty. 

POWER won $5 million in JPMorgan’s Advancing Cities Challenge, a competition that invites community-based collaboratives to submit proposals for projects to generate economic growth and opportunity in its cities. POWER is the first Baltimore collaborative to win the challenge and was one of six projects selected this year from nearly 200 entries. 

According to Dekonti Mends-Cole, vice president for JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy in the mid-Atlantic region, the proposal was selected because it was being spearheaded by the same population it was aiming to support — Black and Latina women — and because it was a project that could potentially have an impact on Baltimore beyond JPMorgan Chase’s three-year commitment. 

“(The organizations that make up POWER) had been doing this work well before we arrived. The additional dollars and support allow for them to scale their existing operations and really drive systemic change within the region,” Mends-Cole said. 

JPMorgan is also awarding $2 million to Parity Homes, a company in Baltimore that aims to revitalize blocks and neighborhoods with a high number of vacant or deteriorating buildings. With the funds, Parity Homes hopes to increase its staff to keep up with demand. It also looks to help 200 low-income Black and Latino individuals and families become homeowners in west Baltimore neighborhoods. 

The uses of the remaining $13 million will be announced in the future, according to a press release sent by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. Additionally, as part of JPMorgan Chase’s $75 million commitment, $20 million will be distributed to organizations in Washington’s Wards 7 and 8, while the remaining $35 million will be divided across the region.