Brian Atkins, Chase Skyland Community Branch Manager. (Courtesy Photo)

February is Black History Month – an annual commemoration of the achievements of Black Americans and their remarkable impact on history. It’s a time to celebrate the cultural heritage shaped by generations of Black Americans, who for many decades have fought for equity – a fight that continues today.

Though advancements have been made, there is still so much work to be done in our communities in the pursuit of racial equity. For more on how JPMorgan Chase is honoring Black History Month, and how you can too, we sat down with Brian Atkins, local community manager from the Skyland Town Center Chase branch on Good Hope Road to discuss some impactful ways to celebrate and support the Black community, not just this month – but all year long. 

AFRO: What type of investments is Chase making to bolster the financial health of its Black customers and communities? 

: Let’s first talk about Black History Month. We’re committed to driving real and sustainable change for the Black community here at Chase and around the world. We’re using this time to both reflect on the past, as

well as our commitment to build a more equitable future for all people.

From the way we do business to the policies we advocate for, our commitments are part of a continued effort to bring an enhanced equity lens to JPMorgan Chase’s businesses and how we serve all customers, clients, communities and employees.

And so our work to support the Black community goes beyond banking. By providing growth opportunities for diverse-owned small businesses, increasing homeownership rates, providing better access to affordable housing and more, Chase is committed to helping close the racial wealth gap and driving economic inclusion. We’re also giving underbanked communities better access to the necessary resources to improve financial health. 

But the work doesn’t stop there. Every day we collaborate with community partners, policymakers, customers and employees to continue improving the financial health of underrepresented communities.

: How is Chase helping to accelerate Black-owned businesses? 

: In 2020, Chase announced its $30 billion racial equity commitment, a five-year plan that includes assisting entrepreneurs in historically underserved areas to access coaching, technical assistance and capital. Chase has also provided 15,000 loans to small businesses in diverse communities.  

Additionally, Chase offers a suite of helpful tools for Black and diverse-owned businesses. For example, we offer one-on-one counseling with a business banking professional, access to the Chase for Business Resource Center and membership to the JPMorgan Chase Supplier Diversity Network (SDN).

AFRO: What are some ways people can support the economic growth of the Black community?  

: Black History Month is a great reminder that, while some advancement have been made, there is room for improvement.

In February 2019, JPMorgan Chase launched Advancing Black Pathways (ABP) to strengthen the economic foundation of the Black community. ABP focuses on four key areas where there are racial and economic disparities that can create barriers to long term financial success: careers and skills, business development, financial health and wealth creation, and community development.

These four key areas acknowledge the power and importance that entrepreneurship plays in the Black community Unfortunately, the racial wealth gap widened during the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 5% of Black Americans holding business equity — a key driver of wealth — compared to 15% of white Americans. 

There are many impactful ways to support economic growth of Black Americans on local and national levels, during Black History Month and all year long. Consider these opportunities:  

  • Purchase a product from, or solicit the services of, a Black-owned business.
  • Spread the word about your favorite Black-owned brands.
  • Donate to a nonprofit that is working to advance racial equity. 
  • Follow a Black business on social media and engage with their posts to help build their online presence. 

We know that owning a business represents the best path to the middle class. So, if we are to make meaningful progress in closing the racial wealth divide, entrepreneurship must be a key part of the equation. We can never lose sight of that dream.

Sponsored content from JPMorgan Chase & Co

To learn more about how Chase can guide your business to the right resources, please visit the following sites:

Chase’s new program to empower diverse small businesses: https://www.chase.com/businessconsultant and

Advancing Black Pathways: https://www.jpmorganchase.com/impact/people/advancing-black-pathways.

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