The racial wealth gap in the US is continuing to grow. This gap is not new. It is generational and a part of the ongoing legacy of structural racism and anti-Blackness weaved into the very fabric of our social, political, and financial institutions. A legacy that permeates the daily lived experiences, livelihoods, neighborhoods, and communities of every Black person.
Community Vision was founded, in part, to counter the racist practices of redlining among financial institutions. We are proud of our work as a conduit for capital and financial advising to flow to communities of color, work that we seek to continuously improve. In 2020 the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement were world-wide call to action. White-led community development organizations and CDFIs like Community Vision, were particularly called upon to be more intentional about and accountable to our commitments in support of racial equity and Black liberation.
To reach toward those goals, our staff met with several Black women leaders in the financial sector and in the communities we work. Black leaders who have been doing community development work for decades and who have generously shared their expertise, offering input and ideas with Community Vision on multiple previous initiatives.
Out of these partnerships and discussions, we launched a Black Liberation Initiative to drive a commitment to urgency, hold ourselves accountable in measurable ways and more intentionally invest in Black leadership and community power-building. The framework we built was rooted in Black Liberation Theory and reviewed by Black leaders.
As part of these early conversations, we reached out to colleagues at the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs (the Alliance). Both organizations wanted to increase the commitment and accountability of CDFIs, donors, and impact investors in investment in Black communities and Black leaders. We moved at the speed of trust and had honest upfront conversations about Community Vision’s commitment to Black communities, and desire to improve our work and increase our accountability.
That early trust building was key to what was to come: a co-led effort to create and test a sector-wide shared framework of evaluation and accountability built on the expertise of the Alliance and feedback from Black leaders who have dedicated their lives to Black power building.
This framework is now known as the African American Equity Impact Scorecard (the Scorecard). A test cohort of 16 lenders signed onto the project and are now actively using the Scorecard to evaluate their work around wealth-building among Black communities. This cohort consists of a diverse group of funders of various asset sizes representing 12 states across all US regions. Community Vision provided a grant to the Alliance to build an online portal for the Scorecard, that is housed at the Alliance.
The Scorecard project has also received sign-on support from both The California Endowment and the Greenlining Institute.
The five general categories used in the Scorecard’s assessment are:
- Leadership & Power Building: Black leaders creating a path toward equitable policies and practices within the Black community.
- Economic Development & Job Creation: Non-profits, cooperatives, and businesses working toward a living wage, basic benefits, career-building, wealth-building opportunities and/or a fair and engaging workplace.
- Equity: Projects proactively addressing historical and current systemic oppression in order to ensure fairness in the access to opportunities, resources, and rights for the Black community.
- Community-Centered Approaches: Community partnerships that are trusted, hold confidence within the community, and have based their work on the stated needs/wants of the community.
- Catalytic Impact: Support that moves a leader and/or project through a critical juncture, towards stated objectives or a critical decision.
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It is the aim of the Alliance and Community Vision that the Scorecard will become a widely used tool that can be implemented by any kind of lending, investing and philanthropic institutions to help address the ways in which we have mirrored inequitable institutionalized practices; creating measures of impact and accountability to Black communities.
We invite financial institutions, developers and funders to consider integrating the Scorecard into their decision processes. For more information on the logistics of the Scorecard tool and how your organization can become an adopter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.