By Special to the Daily World (www.TriceEdneyWire.com)
WASHINGTON — The NAACP has opened the NAACP Financial Freedom Center, the next phase of a groundbreaking agreement with Wells Fargo & Co. to provide financial education and banking resources to consumers. The Center will be the headquarters of the NAACP Financial Freedom Campaign, an initiative to influence change in the banking industry, prevent unfair mortgage lending practices, protect the community against predatory mortgage lending practices, improve fair credit access, and promote sustainable homeownership, financial education and wealth building strategies in historically disadvantaged communities.
The agreement with Wells Fargo and NAACP was initiated last year and through this partnership, Wells Fargo became the first bank to endorse the NAACP’s Responsible Mortgage Lending Principles. The agreement also includes a process for sharing data, assessing Wells Fargo’s lending and servicing practices, and a shared accountability for progress.
The NAACP Financial Freedom Center will provide workshops on topics such as money management and home preservation through partnerships with community groups in the D.C. area. The Financial Freedom Center will serve as a base for NAACP units across the country to learn and organize around financial and economic empowerment. It will also hold gatherings to educate leaders in the financial industry about the historical impact of racial discrimination and best practices in achieving racial equity.
The Financial Freedom Center will be staffed by a team of NAACP professionals. Volunteers from nonprofit organizations, financial institutions such as Wells Fargo, and others will be on site at the Center and across the country to provide guidance in such areas as home preservation, attaining a mortgage, credit repair and more.
“We applaud Wells Fargo for agreeing to increase financial education and wealth building opportunities tailored to communities of color,” said NAACP Chairman Roslyn Brock. “This partnership will increase awareness and assist minority consumers in making informed decisions regarding financial products and services.”
“Our aim is to change mortgage lending industry practices that have shattered families and neighborhoods and to rebuild our communities,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “We commend Wells Fargo for voluntarily providing us increased access to information on its business practices that will allow the NAACP to better assess its lending practices and continue our mandate of protecting and advocating for our communities. Working together, we can address problems before they affect our community and provide the financial education needed to strengthen the movement taking place for sustainable financial strategies and real wealth building.”
“We take very seriously our commitment to responsibly serve all customers across the credit spectrum and are working with partners across the nation to increase homeownership, prevent foreclosures, and stabilize African-American communities. We are pleased to work side-by-side with the NAACP to provide financial education to those who are struggling to put their lives back together again,” said Jon R. Campbell, executive vice president of Social Responsibility at Wells Fargo. “In the spirit of collaboration, the NAACP is already providing valuable input into programs being planned to make further improvements in our consumer outreach, education programs and our foreclosure prevention efforts.”