By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
JPMorgan Chase on Wednesday announced that it would give $5 million over the next three years to Baltimore City’s Prioritizing Our Women’s Economic Rise Collaborative (POWER), which will generate wealth-building opportunities for Black, Latina and Hispanic women residing in the 21223 zip code and surrounding neighborhoods.
The firm also awarded $2 million to West Baltimore equitable development company Parity, which acquires and renovates abandoned properties by the block to create affordable housing.
This announcement comes just one day after the firm declared a $75 million commitment to the Greater Washington region, granting Baltimore $20 million in low-cost loans and capital.
“I am excited about this collaborative’s efforts to increase access to entrepreneur and apprenticeship opportunities for women of color in West Baltimore. In particular, I look forward to supporting the collaborative’s efforts to foster change in our current real estate development landscape,” said Mayor Brandon Scott. “This investment will help bridge the appraisal gap and incentivize community-centric development right here on the West side.”
POWER was awarded the funds through JPMorgan Chase’s yearly AdvancingCities challenge, which supports solutions for communities where deeper investments are needed to drive inclusive growth.
The initiative is a partnership between the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), the University of Maryland Baltimore’s Community Engagement Center, University of Maryland School of Social Work, Black Women Build Baltimore, Baltimore-D.C. Building Trades, Byte Back and Baltimore Community Lending.
POWER seeks to prioritize women of color’s economic growth through three accelerators with programming that includes small business incubators, skills training in high-growth, nontraditional job sectors and grant funding to develop affordable housing.
“We are precisely looking to help Black and Latina women who are cost-burdened renters and where two in three households live in liquid asset poverty,” said Emi Reyes, CEO of LEDC.
“Our hope with POWER is to create a continuum of wealth building and contribute to a safe, healthy and thriving West Baltimore.”
The initiative intends to reform the vacant housing acquisition and disposition process to make it more equitable and efficient. It also plans to strengthen the workforce development ecosystem by providing technical assistance and incentives to create worker-owned organizations and cooperatives.
In the course of three years, POWER will serve 200 women of color through entrepreneurial programs, including real estate development apprenticeships. Baltimore Community Lending will distribute small business loans totaling more than $3.5 million to over 170 women-owned businesses.
Black Women Build Baltimore and Baltimore-D.C. Building Trades will participate in the initiative by training over 50 women in construction trades, including carpentry, electrical and plumbing, while restoring desolate homes in West Baltimore. Byte Back will train women in tech and tech-adjacent careers.
Parity, which is led by Bree Jones, will use the funding from JPMorgan Chase to bring four individuals on their team, helping them to keep up with the demand for affordable housing. The development company also hopes to create 200 new Black and Latina homeowners in West Baltimore.
“This is a game changer for us, and yet, it’s still just a fraction of the scale of investment needed to match the scale of the problem that’s been created by systemic racism,” said Jones. “Let this be a clear rallying call for other large institutions, like JPMorgan Chase, to mobilize catalytic capital.”
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