As we close our celebration of Black History Month this year, we recently sat down with Christopher Beene in Inglewood at JPMorgan Chase to discuss what Black History Month means to him and how the company looks beyond the month of February to advance racial equity.
- What does Black History Month mean to you and how did celebrate?
Black History Month is a celebration of how far I’ve come in disappearing the shame around my identity, a season to honor our ancestors and their hidden contributions, and a time of reflection on the work still to be done. I personally celebrate year around, but during the month of February I have partnered with Social Justice Learning Institute of Inglewood to provide food and clothing resources in the community. We also have partnered with the Rotary Club of Inglewood to volunteer in the delayed King Day parade held in Inglewood (delayed from original date because of rain).
- How is JPMorgan Chase making an impact to advance racial equity?
Diversity, equality and inclusion have been an important part of the culture at JPMorgan Chase and we wanted to take a look at what else we can be doing. While our work to advance racial equity has been longstanding, in October 2020, we made a $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity that took a look at additional ways to address affordable housing, small business, financial health, among other critical financial needs within unbanked and underbanked communities.
We’ve opened 14 Community Center branches – locally-inspired and built with extra space to host free community events and financial health workshops – across the country and hired nearly 150 Community Managers who connect community members with the many resources we’ve created to support financial health education, first-time homebuyer education, and many other resources.
In Inglewood and surrounding underserved communities, we have Senior Business Consultants who provide free one-on-one coaching and advice to local Black, Hispanic, Latino and underbanked small business owners on everything from boosting creditworthiness to managing cash flow to effective marketing. Additionally, Chase Home Lending Advisors are available across the U.S. – whether you want to click, call or visit in-branch – to help you prepare for homeownership, including identifying the right financing solutions and any down payment/housing assistance available.
We’re invested in making an impact in Inglewood and committed to supporting underserved communities, helping them reach their financial goals.
- How should other companies and individuals be thinking about advancing racial equity?
We all can make an effort to help advance racial equity within our community – including by investing in or shopping with local diverse-owned businesses, supporting philanthropic efforts in our community and participating in community events.
Consider looking for diverse initiatives and business resource groups within your company that focus on supporting underserved or underrepresented communities, and asking if there are opportunities to support those initiatives or groups. For instance, JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways initiative works to support the economic empowerment of the Black community globally. Through our Global Supplier Diversity program we’re using our purchasing power to build economic equity in diverse communities, foster the success of underrepresented business owners, and promote equity, inclusion and sustainability across the wider business community. We also have initiatives focused on other communities, and business resource groups that share our company commitment to equity and equality and create opportunities for employees to be engaged.
- Tell me about your connection to the Inglewood community and opportunities for growth here?
My connection to Inglewood started as a child growing up in Portland, Oregon where I would often see the Great Western Forum on TV. The palm trees and California sun peaked my interest and ultimately led to my arrival in the Inglewood community in 2008. I started my journey towards generational wealth through home ownership in the adjacent Hyde Park community. JP Morgan Chase allowed me to grow amongst the community in various roles starting in 2009 (Relationship Banker and Branch Manager) before accepting the role as a Community Manager with the firm in 2022. My growth both professionally and personally is due in large part to the community of Inglewood as it allowed me to serve the people with a servant’s heart.
The opportunities in Inglewood are endless. With the construction of Sofi Stadium, Intuit Center and the renovation of the Forum the community has been infused with a breath of fresh air back into “The Wood”. Home preservation and business development have been key to the city’s rise from the ashes. The demographics in the city consisted of mainly Black and Brown before the infusion of business but has since shifted with all races. My role as a Community Manager allows me to better inform our community through financial health and various resources. The opportunities are limitless as long as our African American and Latino neighbors can keep their feet on the ground in the proud city of Inglewood.
What are your goals for this year, and/or, what are you looking forward to in 2023?
My goal this year is to better serve the community through my relationships with non-profit
organization and key decision makers in the community. I will be transparent with the message of the work JP Morgan Chase has committed to doing with the Racial Equity Commitment for underserved communities like Inglewood. A sense of trust will be created by meeting the community where they are in schools, churches, libraries and local business. We want to be the bank for all this year and in the years to come. I look forward to seeing you in The Wood this year.
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