Bank of America commits $1B to coronavirus relief for people of color
Bank of America will commit $1 billion over the next four years to aid local communities dealing with economic and racial inequality that’s been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.
The funds will be directed specifically to helping people and communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by the public health crisis, the company said Tuesday. A wealth of early data has shown that minority Americans are being hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, a fact Bank of America nodded to in its announcement.
Those challenges have intensified amid a week of escalating protests across the U.S., largely in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. Though largely peaceful, protests in some cities turned violent and descended into looting and rioting over the weekend.
“Underlying economic and social disparities that exist have accelerated and intensified during the global pandemic,” Bank of America Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan said in a press release. “The events of the past week have created a sense of true urgency that has arisen across our nation, particularly in view of the racial injustices we have seen in the communities where we work and live. We all need to do more.”
In addition to securing their own employees’ safety and working with small businesses to rebuild, many bankers are now wrestling with their industry’s role in perpetuating systemic racism in the U.S. While officially outlawed, the practice of redlining, or denying credit to would-be borrowers in certain tracts, has resulted in long-term de facto segregation in many communities. And African American and Latino borrowers are still more likely to be denied conventional mortgages loans today.
Bank of America’s $1 billion commitment will focus specifically on health, jobs and training, small-business support and housing. That will support programs like virus testing and vaccination clinics, partnerships with historically black colleges and universities, and aid for minority-owned small businesses. The company also committed to hiring more employees from low- to moderate-income and disadvantaged communities.