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Mellody Hobson and Jamie Dimon: Black Americans are still worse off financially. Businesses can help

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Mellody Hobson is a board member of JPMorgan Chase, the president of Ariel Investments and a member of the Advancing Black Pathways Advisory Council. Jamie Dimon is the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. The opinions expressed in this commentary are their own.

Perspectives allison triolo b
For all the positive economic trends in America, the racial wealth gap continues to prevent growth from benefiting everyone. While this is not a new crisis, it is one we must urgently address so that economic opportunity is equally extended to black Americans.
Racism, intolerance and poverty strangle economic opportunity. The racial wealth gap is stark: For single black Americans, the median wealth is $200 to $300, compared to $15,000 to $28,000 for single white Americans. This divide undermines financial stability for many black Americans.
Closing the racial wealth gap is good for Americans, and it makes good business sense. We know employees from diverse backgrounds offering different perspectives drive better corporate outcomes. A recent study showed that businesses with diverse leadership generate 19% more revenue than non-diverse companies.
Diversity can also reduce turnover. Nearly seven in 10 millennials reported they would continue to work at a company for five or more years if it is diverse.
As leaders in business as well as the broader community, we know we have a responsibility to society. Not to mention, as financial services executives, we can help to foster widespread prosperity.
To this end, we have both worked to empower black Americans to achieve personal and professional success. For example, After School Matters, a nonprofit founded in 2000, provides enrichment programs to thousands of inner-city high school students in Chicago. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase’s Fellowship Initiative, founded in 2010, offers hands-on college access and academic support to young men of color in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Dallas. The scale and success of these efforts are impressive — but not enough. There is much more work to be done.

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D.C.-Area Business Leaders Launch $1B Affordable Housing Challenge

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Housing affordability has become an increasingly urgent concern in D.C., and a group of business leaders is challenging the region to invest $1B over the next two years to help solve the issue.  The Housing Leaders Group of Greater Washington launched the Capital Region Housing Challenge, an effort to spur the D.C. region’s public and private sectors to each add $500M in affordable housing investments above their current baseline by the end of 2020.  Housing Leaders Group co-convenor David Bowers, also the market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, announced the challenge at Bisnow’s Metro D.C. Affordable Housing Summit Wednesday morning in a rousing call to action.  “The challenge is the call to work collectively, across sectors and geographic boundaries, to fundamentally move the baseline of thinking and investment and connect capital to solutions,” Bowers said. “Those of you that are already investing, we’re challenging you to do more.”

Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/washington-dc/news/affordable-housing/dc-area-housing-leaders-launch-1b-affordable-housing-challenge-98112?&utm_source=outbound_pub_67&utm_campaign=outbound_issue_1571&utm_content=outbound_newsletter3&utm_medium=email?utm_source=CopyShare&utm_medium=Browser

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Jordan Peele and the art of being unapologetically black

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(CNN)Call it revenge of the “blerds.”

Jordan Peele, a self-proclaimed “black nerd” who helped to popularize the term as part of the comedy duo Key and Peele, is boldly going where no black man has gone before by conquering the horror film genre.
His sophomore film, “Us,” is out Friday to rave reviews and early awards season buzz for its star, Lupita Nyong’o.
The film is on track to make history as the biggest horror film about a black family, written and directed by a black man with a mostly black cast.
Peele is among several successful creatives in Hollywood who are being unapologetically black in their craft.
Along with Peele, “Atlanta’s” Donald Glover, “Insecure’s” Issa Rae, “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris, “Luke Cage” showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker and filmmakers Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler have produced entertainment that showcases the African-American experience as part of the American experience as a whole, while still celebrating the uniqueness of black culture.
Collectively, they have produced content in which they don’t feel the need to give context for mainstream America.
If you don’t get a joke or a reference because it’s too “inside black baseball” as it were, there’s always Google.
They are also reminders of what should be a given but isn’t in a society fractured by debates over race and class: people of color have smart, funny, engaging and relatable stories to tell.
Read more @ CNN

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WHAT BLACK INVESTORS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OPPORTUNITY ZONES

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Black investors have historically invested in land to build wealth. Real estate is generally seen as a solid investment because property values typically rise over time. Property can be passed from one generation to another; used to diversify an investment portfolio; and is considered less risky than the stock market. Now, there is a new option for blacks to become investors and receive tax breaks with a new real estate asset class: Opportunity Zones.

Opportunity Zones are low-income areas the U.S. Treasury classifies as “qualified opportunity zones.” Investors can make these asset investments through Qualified Opportunity Funds.

The investments are geared to accelerate economic development in almost 9,000 designated areas in America and Puerto Rico, says tax attorney Steve Moskowitz, a founding member of the San Francisco-based tax law firm Moskowitz L.L.P.

Opportunity Zones were added as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. They allow investors to defer tax on any capital gains until 2026 and avoid a capital gains tax on the sale of an Opportunity Zone. Those funds are then invested in property and businesses located or operated within the designated QO Zones.

WHAT EXACTLY ARE OPPORTUNITY ZONES?

According to the Economic Innovation Group, the 2017 tax provision provides “a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into dedicated Opportunity Funds.” African American Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) played an integral part in including the zones in the tax law.

The ante is high as there is a massive amount of capital gains that could be invested in Opportunity Zones. Based on estimates that U.S. households and corporations possess over $6 trillion in unrealized capital gains, some officials contend that the program has great potential to trigger an influential change in distressed communities.

Even if a portion of that amount of money was committed, it could possibly mean billions of dollars for poor areas across the country. That is because the program is specifically designed to increase economic opportunity by incentivizing new development in low-income urban and rural areas, says Leslie Anderson, president and CEO of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA).

Read more @ Black Enterprise

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