By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member

JPMorgan Chase on Tuesday announced a $75 million, five-year commitment of capital and low-cost loans to the Greater Washington area to help close the racial wealth gap. This investment will bring the firm’s total regional philanthropic commitment to over $125 million by 2025. 

In D.C., Wards 7 and 8 will receive $20 million from the commitment, and much of the investment will specifically target women of color, who JPMorgan Chase views as key drivers of household economic mobility. 

“We are focused in Washington, D.C. on how we give more residents a fair shot and make our City’s prosperity more inclusive. Part of that work means bringing together public, private, and philanthropic partners to make strategic investments in the people and communities that need them most, and that’s what we’re doing here,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “This investment from JPMorgan Chase, an investment in Black and Latina women, in early education and in affordable housing, will give more families in D.C. the fair shot they deserve.” 

As part of JPMorgan Chase’s annual AdvancingCities challenge, $5 million was awarded to the Advancing Early Education Collaborative, which will increase access to education, skills and training opportunities in the field of early education for Black and Latina women in Wards 7 and 8. 

The initiative is a partnership between Martha’s Table, Lift DC, Venture Philanthropy Partners, American University and Trinity Washington University. They refer to it as PEDALS: Pathways to Early Development and Learning Success.

“We’re moving forward we’re moving upward,” said Kim Ford, president and CEO of Martha’s Table. “This initiative is going to fight back against the systemic drivers of income and wealth inequality affecting Black and Brown women in D.C. through newly launched work in our economic mobility portfolio.” 

Through this collaboration, the organizations are eliminating barriers that women of color face when entering the early childhood education sector. These barriers include limited access to financial resources and minimal time to pursue higher education, as well as the challenge of transferring academic credits among institutions. 

American University developed a state-of-the-art Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, giving Black and Latina women the opportunity to enroll in an online, self-paced program. After completing their CDA Credential, the women can then attend American University’s School of Education or Trinity Washington University to obtain a bachelor’s degree. 

Throughout their education, Martha’s Table will provide the women with wraparound support that includes childcare, transportation stipends, access to professional attire and tutoring for exams. 

Black and Latina women from Wards 7 and 8 will also have access to financial and career coaching surrounding savings, debt reduction and creating a budget through Lift D.C. 

“We cannot talk about inclusive recovery. We cannot talk about economic mobility. We cannot talk about greater regional prosperity without showing up with greater intention and investing in women of color,” said Dekonti Mends-Cole, vice president for the Mid-Atlantic at JPMorgan Chase.

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