It looks like at least one company is keeping its promise to help the Black community. In June 2020, at the height of protests for equality, every major corporation was pledging to change their institutional racism ways and put their money where their mouths were. Now Netflix has actually revealed some progress.
Variety reports, the streaming giant has invested $100 million in “Black-led financial institutions.” It originally pledged 2% of its cash holdings. With a reported $7.5 billion in its coffers as of Sept. 30, 2% is $150 million.
Bill Bynum, CEO of HOPE Credit Union, which received $10 million in the form of a Transformational Deposit to fuel economic opportunity in underserved communities in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, spoke to The Root about its importance to the community.
“Our institution HOPE works in a region that has long been associated with poverty, racial challenges and racial disparities, and that’s where we focus our efforts to help close the gap, so people in these communities have what they need to help their families and to contribute to the economy,” said Bynum.
“Many of the communities we serve have not been allowed to build wealth or wealth has been extracted, so they don’t have the deposit base to support home ownership, to finance mortgages, to finance businesses, to finance institutions like schools and hospitals,” he continued. “We have to import wealth into these communities, and that’s what the Netflix deposit does. It imports capital into capital starved communities. We use that to fund home ownership, entrepreneurs, nonprofits that provide critical services, rural health clinics, hospitals. Things that are necessary for an economy and community to thrive.”
The streamer is also touting its new web series Banking On Us, which has the first episode “Investing in the Black Community” available on YouTube.
Bynum appears in the series discussing how investments like these will help close the racial wealth gap.
“There are communities that have long been unbanked and we should not allow that in the existing financial system. Until we get banks and credit unions to do right by their communities, it’s vital that we get investments in institutions that are working to serve the entire community, all people, no matter of race, gender or where they live,” he said. “We’re seeing an increase in minority financial institutions, community investment financial institutions and those are a part of the solution as well.”
“An important development is the increase of help from private companies like Netflix,” Bynum continued. “We engage them and we’re having conversations about what that means in places like the Mississippi Delta and Alabama. To their credit, they have made some strong statements, and made a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We want to help them put those statements to work. Particularly in places like ones we serve here in the deep south.”
The series “highlights the real-world stories of how providing loans to homeowners and businesses has made a difference in local communities.”
Banking on Us Episode 2 showcasing business ownership is now available on YouTube. Bynum explained how HOPE helps Black business owners get equal access to the system.
“Black people and women are among the most entrepreneurial people on the planet. They do more with less than anyone should be expected to do. One of the things we try to do at HOPE is position ourselves as private bankers for the underbanked,” he said.
He went on to discuss how the usual relationships that connected entrepreneurs have aren’t accessible to many Black business owners.
“When you look at women of color and people of color those networks aren’t really available. They may not have an accountant in the family, church or country club,” he said. “Not to mention people who are going to say ‘hey there’s a contract you should be aware of, and my good friend is making those decisions so why don’t we put you together.’ That is not the reality most Black people experience, so we do everything we can to help fill in those gaps and help navigate the financial system.”
Banking on Us Episode 3 covering home ownership debuts Dec. 15 at 9 am PT on You Tube.
Here is the list of how the $100 million was used:
$10 million was deposited with Hope Credit Union in the form of a Transformational Deposit to fuel economic opportunity in underserved communities in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
$25 million was invested as seed funding to establish the Black Economic Development Fund, managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The fund invests in Black-led banks, anchor institutions, businesses, and real estate developers. It reached its $250 million goal this year after capital investments from 11 public and private companies, including PayPal, Costco, Square, and McKinsey & Co.
$10 million was invested with The Change Co. to provide financing to Black homeowners fairly and responsibly.
$25 million was invested as seed funding for the Enterprise Community Impact Note to support its Equitable Path Forward initiative. The initiative supports historically marginalized housing providers in creating and preserving affordable homes in diverse communities.
$10 million was deposited with OneUnited Bank as the start of an ongoing relationship.
$20 million was invested in Calvert Impact Capital’s Community Investment Note. The funds are earmarked to support housing and community development projects focused on U.S. BIPOC communities.