Chase grant to help Latinos
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 2, 2004

Money will go for education, buying land

Yvette Armendariz
Financial education for Latinos is on many bankers' minds these days.

The latest effort to help build Hispanic wealth comes from Chase, the retail banking unit of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The company will announce today a $1 million grant to the National Council of La Raza and its Phoenix-based community development subsidiary, the Raza Development Fund. Money will be earmarked for financial education and the financing of land acquisition for community development projects around the country.

About $750,000 is expected to help Raza Development Fund leverage $50 million in real estate deals for affordable housing, charter schools and health centers, including a project in south Phoenix, said Tommy Espinoza, president and chief executive officer of the fund. The rest will go to home-buyer and general-financial education.

Both the education and community-development programs work hand-in-hand to push up wealth, said Lautaro "Lot" Diaz, vice president of community development for NCLR. That's because for most families' wealth comes from the value in their homes.

Studies show Latinos lagging behind the general U.S. population in wealth accumulation.

Diaz pointed to a Federal Reserve survey of consumer finances that shows the average Latino family's net worth was $3,000 in 1998 compared with $81,700 for a White family.

NCLR soon will launch economic mobility centers aimed at providing information on personal finance and wealth accumulation. A Chicanos Por La Causa program in Tucson is expected to be among the first to offer the expanded services.

Mark Willis, head of community development for Chase, said the grant is "just the start of what we hope will be a significant, long-term relationship with NCLR."