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Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) Celebrates Juneteenth by Advancing Black Wealth

Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) Celebrates Juneteenth by Advancing Black Wealth

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Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) Celebrates Juneteenth by Advancing Black Wealth

FFP Special Post, by Jordan Tobias, June 19, 2024: Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, marks the end of slavery in the United States. On this day, FFP recognizes America’s progress in advancing racial and economic equity while also being mindful of the work that still needs to be done to eradicate systemic inequities in our country.

In this post, we briefly trace the history of Juneteenth, look at the socioeconomic progress and struggles of Black Americans, and highlight four remarkable organizations – each of them an FFP grantee – that aim to close the racial wealth gap by improving financial education, planning, homeownership, and more among Black families.

A Brief History of Juneteenth

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued The Emancipation Proclamation, which established that all enslaved people in Confederate states in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

However, many Confederate states did not comply and Northern troops had to advance into the Confederate South to free the enslaved. For example, in Texas, slaveowners had kept news of the Emancipation Proclamation, issued two years earlier, from those enslaved.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, with 2,000 troops and signaled freedom for 250,000 enslaved people. Although emancipation did not happen overnight for all that day, celebrations broke out among many newly free Black people, and Juneteenth was born.

The next year in 1866, freed men and women in Texas organized the first of what became the annual celebration of “Jubilee Day” on June 19. Since then, Black Americans have rejoiced with cookouts, festivals, and fireworks to acknowledge the bloodshed of their ancestors and celebrate new opportunities for rights, safety, and prosperity for generations to come.

Progress Mixed with Hurdles

Since 1865, Black Americans have made extensive contributions to American society, making advancements in medicine, politics, aviation, sports, civil rights, law, and much more. However, despite long-term progress by African Americans, institutional and systemic racism has created stark disparities in education, income, and wealth.

Lower loan approval rates, lower homeownership rates, lower personal wealth, and higher interest rates are just a few of the lasting effects of decades of financial discrimination against Black families. Today, White Americans hold ten times more total wealth than Black Americans. For example, the median Black household in America has around $24,000 in wealth while the median White household holds around $189,000, according to RAND.

Nonprofits, grant-makers, and community stakeholders can help close this racial wealth divide.

Partnering with Nonprofit Organizations to Help Close the Wealth Gap

For almost 30 years, FFP has been enhancing the financial security of Black families, doing so in part through our grant-making to nonprofits who serve them. This year, we are especially proud of our Communities of Color grantees – each of whom is dedicated to helping Black and Brown families gain financial guidance, confidence, and security. Thank you to BNY Mellon’s Pershing and AssetMark for their help in supporting our Communities of Color Initiative, earmarking additional grant funds for these fantastic organizations.

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Brooklyn, NY) aspires to close gaps in family and community wealth to ensure all families in Central Brooklyn are prosperous and healthy. Ninety-five percent of Restoration’s program participants are people of color, including 75% from the Black community. With a grant from FFP, Restoration has augmented its financial counseling program to provide clients with guidance from CFP® professionals in the areas of debt management, budgeting, savings, education planning, retirement planning, and more.

Britepaths (Fairfax, VA) is dedicated to addressing the unique needs of those living in poverty or experiencing crisis, serving more than 7,000 households in Fairfax County, VA, with 67% of Britepaths’ clients living at or below the poverty level. Ninety percent of Britepaths’ clients are people of color, including 32% from the Black community. With a grant from FFP, Britepaths is engaging CFP® professionals in providing financial advice and guidance to low- to moderate- income families via its Financial Counseling Clinics and Financial Empowerment Center, with a goal to help clients become more financially stable and self-sufficient.

Flyte (New Orleans, LA) works to empower entrepreneurs and their families with the skills and resources needed to overcome systemic financial inequalities. Its flagship Entrepreneur Empowerment Program currently works with 60 early-stage small business owners annually, primarily Black women with children. With FFP’s support, each entrepreneur has access to personal finance training and 1:1 personal finance mentorship with a CFP® professional.

Increasing H.O.P.E Financial Training Center (North Charleston, SC) works to provide financial education, services, and resources to help individuals and families achieve financial stability and build assets. Eighty-five percent of their program participants are Black individuals and families. With FFP’s support, Increasing H.O.P.E is expanding its dFree© Financial Education program to include pro bono 1:1 financial planning through the use of CFP® professional volunteers.