100 Black Men of Greater Washington and Experian teamed up with local organizations to increase financial health and close the wealth gap in the Black community. (Courtesy Photo)

By Carl Thomas
Special to the AFRO

Financial hardship is not a new concept for many African Americans. For many, life in America has been one hardship after another and being in a pandemic has, in some cases, exasperated those conditions. As the impediments have mounted, specific industries have noted particular impact on communities of color- such as financial health and credit. Few individuals comprehend the scope of this reality. Even fewer corporate entities recognize the issue, let alone actually have a response. This is where partnerships are created.

Last week, the 100 Black Men of Greater Washington, D.C. (The 100) and Experian North America announced the launch of their partnership, which is to be an expansive financial health initiative aimed at assisting the multitude of African American communities suffering through COVID-19-related economic hardship. Experian’s United for Financial Health Initiative will offer a Home Preservation Grant, which will provide rental and mortgage relief to D.C.’s most vulnerable families. The 100 will contract services from the D.C.-based, woman-owned Paradigm One to offer two, free seven-week career advancement coaching to guide participants who may be in search of new career opportunities, in need of graduate school scholarships, or assistance identifying appropriate programs or services.

“COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted the credit and health of the Black community. One of Experian’s core missions is to create a better tomorrow by making positive change in the world and actively supporting efforts to close the wealth gap. Through this partnership, we look forward to being a part of the financial recovery from the pandemic and beyond,” said Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Officer for Experian North America Wil Lewis.

A key piece of the philosophy behind Experian North America’s Corporate Responsibility Program is community investment. The corporation has shown a serious commitment to investing the time, resources and partnerships required to begin to level the financial playing field in the United States. Because of this, places such as the District’s member’s only clubhouse, The Gathering Spot, which targets Black professionals, have also teamed up for this important initiative.

“Experian’s powerful investment in our community will assist individuals impacted by COVID-19 and partner with Black-owned businesses,” said James Thompson, president of the 100 Black Men of Greater Washington, D.C.  “This investment demonstrates our commitment to uplifting our community, particularly those who COVID-19 has impacted. We are proud of our partnerships with Experian, Paradigm One, and The Gathering Spot, and excited about the services that will be provided – free of charge – to individuals looking to enhance their career opportunities.”

Experian is the world’s leading global information services company and boasts nearly 1,800 employees operating across 45 countries and is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN).

The 100 Black Men of Greater Washington, D.C. was founded in 1995 in response to a call to action during the Million Man March. The organization is devoted to improving the quality of life for African Americans within the community through economic empowerment, education, health and wellness, and mentoring programs.  With a dedicated and diverse membership base that consists of doctors, lawyers, STEM professionals, entrepreneurs, financial experts, educators, U.S. service members and business professionals, the organization provides a broad range of support to its community and mentees. Since 1995, the organization has mentored over 15,000 students with a 100 percent graduation rate over the past five years and has provided more than $3.5 Million in college scholarships and community investments.

The Securing the Bag curriculum will assist those interested in creating a resume, LinkedIn profile, and developing an elevator speech. A second course, Level Up Education League, will provide instruction on applying for college scholarships, financial aid, and graduate school.

May 9th is the deadline for adults to register for the “Securing the Bag” and “Level Up” online course. For more information on The 100, visit www.100blackmendc.org. For more information on the United for Financial Health Initiative by Experian, visit www.experianplc.com.