Citigroup has launched a drive to boost financial literacy in urban communities.
Bob Willumstad, Citigroup President and COO; Marc Morial, National Urban League President and CEO; and Darwin Davis, New York Urban League President and CEO; joined with elected officials and community leaders at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem to announce the start of the program in six cities across the U.S.
Willumstad presented Morial with a grant check in the amount of $900,000 from the Citigroup Foundation to support the program at the event. In addition, Willumstad, Morial and Davis met with several members of the New York Urban League Young Professionals who will be receiving specialized financial education training that will enable them to teach others about personal financial education.
“At Citigroup, we believe that strong financial education programs raise the quality of life for individuals, families and institutions and strengthen communities around the world,” said Willumstad. “Because financial education is a natural extension of the work we do every day, we are excited to extend our relationship with the National Urban League by partnering to improve financial education in communities we both serve.”
Morial, the National Urban League head added, “This partnership with Citigroup is designed to inspire and educate African-Americans to become more knowledgeable about saving, investing, and borrowing. This is one of the first steps toward accomplishing the National Urban Leagueâ€™s mission to enable African Americans to secure economic empowerment.”
According to the National Urban Leagueâ€™s 2004 State of Black America Report, less than 50 percent of Black families own their own homes. Another recent study revealed that 47 percent of African Americans have no investments and only 33 percent have savings accounts. A conclusion from the report is the critical need within the African American community for financial education programs that teach banking, saving, investing, and credit.
To help meet this need, National Urban League affiliates in New York City, Rochester, Chicago, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego will take part in the financial education program, designed to help people attain homeownership, broaden employment opportunities and teach the skills needed to make informed financial decisions. Each Urban League affiliate will use Citigroupâ€™s financial education curriculum to train its constituents on banking, money management, saving, investing, and credit. Local Citigroup businesses will support the programs with volunteer teachers and events.
Davis, the New York Urban League President and CEO, said: “Exposure to the insights and skills offered through Citigroup’s Financial Literacy Project will help young people develop good habits early in their lives. Recognizing, acquiring and managing one’s assets is an essential skill needed to meet life goals whether its saving for a favorite toy, starting a college fund, buying a first home or planning for the care and well being of loved ones. Thanks to Citigroup and the Citigroup Foundation, the New York Urban League will be able to bring these skills to a broader array of the 50,000 New Yorkers we serve annually.”
“I made financial mistakes that I don’t want others to make,” noted Kyesha Bennett, a NUL member who has undergone financial education training. “I know there is a need for financial education in my community and I want to be a part of that movement. The Citigroup Financial Education curriculum gave me the skills to teach the concepts of basic banking and beyond.”
Recently, Citigroup and the Citigroup Foundation announced a 10-year, $200 million global financial education commitment, the formation of a new Office of Financial Education and a global initiative designed to encourage its 275,000 employees around the world to devote time to support financial education and other charitable causes. Under the new initiative, employees may take a day off from work to volunteer for non-profit organizations in their communities.
Citigroupâ€™s partnership with the National Urban League is part of the Citigroup Financial Education Program, a global, company-wide effort to identify, support and implement initiatives that help give individuals, families and communities the tools needed to make sound financial decisions. Citigroupâ€™s recently announced 10-year, $200 million global financial education commitment is focused in three areas: Personal Financial Education, Small Business Financial Education, and Institutional Financial Education.