HBCUs Team Up With Wells Fargo To Improve Financial Wellness For College Students Of Color

Bowie State University is one of seven institutions that will begin the Our Money Matters program … [+] Initiative, a comprehensive college student financial education and wellness program sponsored by Wells Fargo.

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Seven colleges and universities – six of which are historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) – will be the first to participate in Our Money Matters (OMM), a financial education and wellness project for colored college students.

The $ 5.6 million initiative, funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation, is designed to help students facing food and housing insecurity, college debt, and other financial hardships. This is an example of Wells Fargo’s greater effort to increase opportunities for financial inclusion and future economic success.

The seven institutions are: Allen University, Bowie State University, Lincoln University, Miles College, Morris Brown College, Southern University in New Orleans, and University of Illinois in Chicago (the only institution in the group that is not an HBCU, but a significant number minority students).

The initiative is managed by the HBCU Community Development Action Coalition (HBCU CDAC), which anticipates the OMM could expand to up to 25 HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) in the US over the next three years 40,000 color students and the wider community with much-needed financial performance skills, personalized tools for financial and student loan management, and access to support services such as career barriers and emergency financial assistance ”.

OMM’s long-term goal is to close racial wealth gaps by creating opportunities to increase financial well-being and generational wealth within color communities.

“The start of the OMM program comes especially timely as the economic burden from COVID-19 will have a devastating impact on HBCUs, MSIs and surrounding communities. The OMM program is a proactive solution designed to address these issues and the wealth disparities between generations within color communities. Our partnership with the Wells Fargo Foundation shows our shared interest in providing our partner institutions and their surrounding communities with the financial tools necessary to create wealth for generations to come, ”said Ron Butler, CEO of HBCU CDAC, in a press release.


Darlene Goins, director of financial health philanthropy at Wells Fargo added, “HBCUs and MSIs are known to help generations of black youth and other color students achieve academic and professional success. More than 70% of HBCU students are eligible for Pell, and students of color face disproportionately high school debt, housing and food insecurity, and other financial difficulties. We believe it is a wise move to invest in these future color guides and give them a stronger foundation for future success in order to cultivate generational wealth within the black community. “

This perspective also explains the recent decisions of several HBCUs to use institutional funds to reduce or eliminate the unpaid tuition and fees faced by many of their college graduates, thereby giving them a better chance of pursuing their careers without overwhelming debt start.

By taking a holistic approach to addressing the many factors contributing to the persistent wealth gap, OMM aims to “incorporate, train, support and scale financial performance and wealth creation in colorful communities while destroying and removing barriers to economic opportunity.” The program, which will be up and running in all seven schools by the fall, has three main components:

  • The Online Financial Counseling Hub, a digital platform from iGrad (a San Diego-based financial technology company) that helps students manage their daily finances and build new skills for life after college. It includes personalized tools for student loan management, a car loan calculator, investment analyzer, and access to certified financial planners.
  • The financial curriculum developed with the help of academics and finance professionals. It offers courses on financial health and interactive activities that can be credited and integrated into general education and study-related courses.
  • The OMM Service Suite, which combines with support such as housing assistance, employment opportunities and career advice.

The HBCU leaders, for their part, praised the completeness of the program. “Lincoln remains committed to helping students make it through to graduation. This comprehensive educational program provides students with financial knowledge and connects them with resources to fill their financial gaps, ”said Dr. Brenda A. Allen, President of Lincoln University, Pennsylvania.

“Partnering with Our Money Matters will be a great resource for our students,” added Bobbie Knight, President of Miles College “This program will be an important tool in teaching our students the importance of good money management and financial responsibility.”

The financial burdens of color communities are diverse and complex, and affect employment, housing, education and health. Economic disparities abound.

When I asked Wells Fargos Goins if she believed this intervention would be effective enough to adequately address these issues, she said to me, “I think we have historically approached the issue from a purely financial perspective, rather than under context Taking into account which people make decisions in the real world. As a financial institution, we have a responsibility to take greater leadership in improving financial inclusion and to do more to support people of color who have faced ingrained systemic and structural barriers to financial prosperity. “

This fits in with the broader pursuit of the HBCU Community Development Action Coalition, which works for HBCUs and MSIs, community development companies, and other community economic development organizations to create greater prosperity and greater economic viability in disinvested urban and rural communities.

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