What has Wells Fargo done for the black community?

What has Wells Fargo done for the black community?
October 13
08:30 2016



In the wake of the Wells Fargo scandal where over 1.5 million of the bank’s customers were saddled with false bank and credit card accounts opened in their names without their knowledge, The Chronicle asked the state’s second largest financial institution, which has branches all across Forsyth County, about its business relationship with Winston-Salem’s African-American community.

The Chronicle put four questions to Josh Dunn, corporate communications consultant for Wells Fargo in Charlotte, on Wednesday, Oct. 5. After consulting with staff, these are some of the answers Mr. Dunn replied with:Chronicle: How is Wells Fargo supporting black businesses in Winston-Salem? How much is Well Fargo spending with African-American businesses in Winston-Salem? Do you have stats to support?

“Wells Fargo has supported numerous black businesses in Winston-Salem through our Small Business Banking and Business Banking efforts, which are focused on helping all small business owners and entrepreneurs succeed,” Dunn writes, adding, “Wells Fargo has loaned more dollars to small businesses than any other bank for 14 consecutive years (2002-2015 CRA data).”

Dunn continued, “Through our new Diverse Community Capital program, Wells Fargo is extending $50 million in lending capital and $25 million in grants to Community Development Financial Institutions that help small businesses get started and established, including providing flexible, small-dollar loans.”

But the “$50 million in lending capital” and “$25 million in grants to Community Development Financial Institutions…” are, according Josh Dunn are “national figures,” not the figures associated specifically to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.

He adds, “Wells Fargo provides funding to the Carolina Small Business Development Fund – previously known as the Support Center – through the Diverse Community Capital Fund in support of African-American small business capitalization and technical support for small businesses across N.C., including those in Forsyth County.”

Again, Dunn did not provide a dollar breakdown per that funding specific to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.

Chronicle: What role is Wells Fargo playing in helping Winston-Salem’s black community grow and prosper, especially given our mayor’s campaign to stamp out poverty in our city?

“Wells Fargo is aligned with several focus areas and initiatives of the mayor’s coalition,” Josh Dunn says, “ including through providing information to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Asset Building Coalition for underbanked residents of the Enclave community on our Easy Pay card as an alternative to traditional banking products, as well as by helping increase the number of clients receiving EITC by supporting VITA centers with funding from Financial Pathways of the Piedmont, Experiment in Self-Reliance, Goodwill and United Way are all local partners we support as they lead the financial capability network in Forsyth County,” Dunn said.

Chronicle: Wachovia had a good working relationship with Winston-Salem’s African-American community prior to the Wells Fargo purchase a few years ago? What has Wells Fargo done not only to maintain, but enhance its relationship with Winston-Salem’s black community since you took over?

Dunn said that Wells Fargo has maintained branch banking offices in predominately African-American communities, “including our MLK, Jr. Drive and Coliseum locations. Additionally, we maintain a positive relationship with several organizations that focus on serving the African-American community,” including:

*Wells Fargo has supported the Winston-Salem Chronicle’s MLK Jr. Day Breakfast for two years, as well as The Chronicle’s 31st annual Community Service Awards Banquet. Wells Fargo also supported The Chronicle through an insert for the National Black Theater Festival.(Dunn did not say, however, that Wells Fargo has cut its budget to The Chronicle each year).

*Wells Fargo provides funding and board leadership for scholarships and programs at Winston-Salem State University, including significant support for their Student Success Center to help increase student retention and graduation.

*Wells Fargo was the presenting sponsor for the installation event that

took place when Chancellor Elwood Robinson was elected and began his

tenure at Winston-Salem State University.

*Wells Fargo supports Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County with fund-ing for new homes and rehabilitation of existing homes in the Kimberly Park neighborhood and other neighborhoods for low- and moderate-income homebuyers and home-owners.

*Wells Fargo team members provide leader-ship and volunteer support for Big Brother Big Sisters, as well as funding for men-tor programs at Cook Elementary School and other low performing schools in Forsyth County.

*Wells Fargo supports YMCA after school and summer enrichment programs and scholarships for low-income families and children.

*Wells Fargo team members volunteer to teach financial education classes to minority low-income clients through Habitat for Humanity, Experiment in Self Reliance’s [ESR] Road to Empowerment and IDA programs, along with Title 1 elementary schools in Forsyth County.

*Wells Fargo team members provide leadership on several boards of organizations serving African-American and low-income residents, including ESR  and Habitat for Humanity.

*Wells Fargo provides funding and volunteers to Whole Man Ministries N.C. for transitional housing, financial education job placement and wrap around services for homeless veterans.

*Wells Fargo provides funding, technical assistance and team member volunteers to support the Prosperity Center and Goodwill for workforce development.

*Wells Fargo has provided funding and board leadership in support of the North Carolina Institute for Minority Economic Development.

*Wells Fargo has provided funding and board leadership in support of the North Carolina Community Development Initiative and Initiative Capital for affordable homeowner education, home preservation programs and small business/economic development across N.C., including Forsyth County.

*Wells Fargo maintains a campus card and banking relationship with N.C. A&T University, which entitles students and faculty to special services.

*Wells Fargo proves funding and board leadership for Forsyth Technical Community College’s small business programs.

*Wells Fargo provides funding to support the City of Winston-Salem’s micro-lending program in partnership with city’s small business ecosystem.

*Wells Fargo provides funding in support of the S. G. Atkins Community Development Corporation’s efforts for homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention.

Chronicle: In all of the above, how can Wells Fargo improve its relationship with Winston-Salem’s African-American community?

“Wells Fargo maintains open and consistent communications with the African-American community, elected officials and business owners,” Josh Dunn said, later adding, “We will continue to host community conversations with the African-American community and other diverse segments to ensure that we are aligning the priorities and needs of every community with the products, services and goals of our company.”

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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