Welcome to another installment of our "$cholar Talk" series. This segment features posts written by Scholars of our "Invest-in-Success" program! It provides a platform for our students to share their experiences, discuss financial topics relevant to teenagers, and provides you a chance to connect with them. Without further ado, please welcome our scholar-blogger Cheyenne Surin-Bullard.
I recently gained admission to D.R.E.A.M.'s Invest-in Success program, and had the opportunity to enroll as a scholar! As a part of the program’s “Start Smart” initiative, my family and I were tasked with opening a savings account. While I had an account earlier in my youth, that account was subsequently closed when my family faced financial difficulties. I was excited to start anew, knowing that this was the first step on the path of personal financial responsibility. I began doing research on various banks, it was important to me to find a socially responsible financial institution.
Almost immediately, I made the decision that I wanted to open an account at an African American owned bank. While many of my peers were vetting traditional banking options such as Chase, Wells Fargo and other mainstream banks, I wanted to put my dollars, albeit negligible at present, in a bank that had a history of serving people in my community. From my research I found that, historically, African American owned community banks were often the only institutions providing capital to African Americans and other ethnic minorities for mortgages and business loans. Today, these very financial institutions maintain that "minorities need dedicated institutions to serve their financial needs because the era of discrimination is far from over." That is a message that appeals to and resonates with me.
After doing research about the options at my disposal, which were somewhat limited, I decided to open a savings account at Carver Federal Savings Bank, the only African American owned bank in New York City. I appreciated Carver’s lasting commitment to the community; they state that eighty cents out of every dollar of Carver's deposits are reinvested in the communities in which they are located. Carver's branch locations can be found in traditional African American neighborhoods (pre-gentrification) such as Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, Harlem in Manhattan, and Saint Albans in Queens.
As community-based organizations in our communities organize and strategize to help ethnic minorities protect themselves from exploitation, banks such as Carver, are an important symbol in the complex picture of today’s financial landscape. It is my fervent hope that my decision will encourage my friends, fellow scholars, and others to put our capital in banks like Carver. Though we have other choices, it is important to align our finances with our values, and support a bank which has sustained our community when others would not. I think it’s extremely important to #BankBlack.
About the Scholar: Cheyenne Surin-Bullard is currently a sophomore at Beacon High School in New York City. She is a scholar in the Invest-in-Success program.
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