FSIC Press Release – AIOF Congratulates Graduates from its Recent Dream Creators Workforce Development Program

FSIC American Innovation and Opportunity Fund (AIOF) congratulates graduates from its most recent Dream Creators Workforce Development Program cohort. All students in the Dream Creators program received advanced training and incidental support before and during the Nash Community College Underground Electrical Line Construction program in July and August. They recently received their graduation certificates and were offered employment at a major energy company. These young people can expect to earn $50,000 or more in their first year. “AIOF is honored to have facilitated this program and is very proud of our graduates. We believe this is an excellent opportunity for these students to have a meaningful and prosperous career”, said Kevin B. Kimble, CEO of AIOF.

AIOF would like to thank our partners Duke Energy, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Roanoke Valley Chapter (SCLC-Roanoke Valley), Beyond Finance, the Partnership for Innovation and Empowerment, and the Financial Services Innovation Coalition (FSIC) for their continued support of the AIOF Dream Creators Workforce Development Program. AIOF looks forward to helping more young people in the future through this program.

FSIC Housing Task Force Blogpost – Black Homeownership Increases, but Hurdles Remain for True Equity

Last month, the National Mortgage News reported that non-banks made nearly two-thirds of all traditional home purchases, a meaningful increase.  For instance, 7.9% of these mortgages went to African American borrowers, up from 7.3% in the previous year.  Asian households had a 7.1% home lending market share, improving on 5.5% in 2020, while Hispanic borrowers received 9.2% of the loans.  Additionally, the share of conventional purchase loans made to borrowers from underrepresented communities also increased.

It is still evident, however, that a significant homeownership gap exists in cities across the country.  An Axios DC analysis found that as the black population of the nation’s capital continues to decrease, the homeownership gap between black and white District residents continues to grow.  According to the DC Mayor’s office, 34% of DC homeowners are black, compared to 49% percent of white residents.  However, some cause for optimism can be found as the number of total black homeowners increased by nearly 4,000 in 2019.

FSIC Housing Task Force Op-ed – The Biden Housing Plan is a Good Start, Here’s How to Improve It

Potential homeowners in the U.S. are facing a myriad of challenges. From rising inflation to rising interest rates, the process has perhaps never been more challenging, especially for those going through it for the first time. And with the average 30-year rate increasing to 5.27 percent, more homeowners than usual are priced out of refinancing.

Many first-time home buyers also must deal with a number of egregious fees, due to zoning issues or as a result of employment verification services like The Work Number, which has raised its prices 31 percent over the last several years.

FSIC and HLF Op-ed – Consumers and Small Businesses Suffer From Unfair Swipe Fees

By: Mario Lopez
Posted: Jun 25, 2022 12:01 AM
Published on Townhall.com

Consumer spending drives the U.S. economy.  Historically, American consumers have pushed us into economic expansions and pulled us out of economic doldrums.

But what if we told you that one of the basic tools the American consumer uses for everyday purchases is rigged against us all and hurts the economy, with low-income Americans and small businesses taking the biggest hit?

FSIC Blog Post – Video Highlights Hidden Fees in Housing Market

In a new video, the Market Institute’s Charlie Sauer examines the rise in sales prices and interest rates of homes across the country and scrutinizes the higher-than-anticipated costs Americans face in the home-buying process.  In the video, Sauer zeroes in on zoning and land use issues, tariffs on products such as lumber and steel, and companies such as The Work Number that put upward pressure on prices.

Sauer notes that many cities have zoning practices like parking requirements and prohibitions on multi-family homes, which have made construction more expensive, and limited housing supply – exacerbating racial and economic inequality.  Zoning isn’t the only issue, though, as Sauer highlights how restrictive trade policies on major homebuilding components such as flooring, iron, and steel pipes are subject to tariffs, making housing more expensive.

FSIC Video Podcast – “African Americans, Real Estate, and the Impact of Systematic Racism”

May 13, 2022, Kevin B. Kimble, Esq., Founder and CEO, FSIC, and Brady J. Buckner, President, FSIC interview with Thaddeus Dawson, CRA designated member with he National Society of Real Estate Appraisers. In this episode outlines the historical and current effects of systematic racism on property valuation and how it has impacted the long term wealth building prospects for communities of color. This is an FSIC Housing Task Force Project.

FSIC Blog Post – “The Wobblies”: Iconic Film on the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Is Re-released for May Day

The film details the history of the Industrial Workers of the World — a radical union whose members are also known as Wobblies — and their inclusive fight to organize “unskilled” workers, secure fair wages and enshrine the eight-hour workday in the early 20th century before they were targeted and repressed by the FBI during World War I.

FSIC Press Release – FSIC Releases Special Report Titled “The Future of Facial Recognition and its Impact on Minorities: What Policy Makers Should Consider”

This paper examines the benefits of facial recognition technology, the danger of inaccuracies and human error, and the need for inclusion in the tech marketplace.  While there is some evidence that FRT has benefited underserved communities, the bias built into these systems must be reduced for communities of color to realize their full advantages.
According to Kevin B. Kimble, Esq., Founder and CEO of FSIC, “As FRT becomes more and more prevalent in people’s lives in the U.S., it is important that disadvantaged communities enjoy the benefits of this technology and not feel the brunt of its disadvantages.” 

FSIC Special Report – The Future of Facial Recognition and its Impact on Minorities: What Policy Makers and Stakeholders Should Consider – April 2022

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the emerging technology revolution have brought many incredible advances.  From natural language processing to facial recognition technology to semantic analytics, there are many things to admire and appreciate.  Because modern facial recognition technology (FRT) cannot exist without AI, much of the discussion in this area revolves around the accuracy of the AI component. 
But, as with all things, there are cautionary issues to be taken into account.  One of the most pressing issues is that of racial equity and diversity.  Over the last few years, the US has become ever more aware of its problems with systemic racism and economic disparity.  This awareness has spilled over into discussions about the regulations of the technology industry. 

FSIC Video Podcast – Nicole Bachaud – “Black Mortgage Applicants Denied 84% More Often than White Borrowers”

March 21, 2022, Kevin B. Kimble, Esq., Founder and CEO, FSIC, and Brady J. Buckner, President, FSIC Interview with Nicole Bachaud, Economist on the Economic Research team at Zillow.  In this episode, the discussion centers on Nicole’s article titled “Black Mortgage Applicants Denied 84% More Often than White Borrowers”.  The group discusses reasons why this alarming statistic is still possible in 2022 and policies that could help lawmakers close the gap in homeownership between white and minority communities.  This is an FSIC Housing Task Force Project.

FSIC Video Podcast – Dr. Kortney Ziegler – WellMoney Financial Support Program February 17, 2022

February 17, 2022 – FSIC’s Brady J. Buckner (President, FSIC) interviews Dr. Kortney Ziegler who is the 2021 CCSRE Race & Technology Practitioner Fellow at Stanford University and an expert on financial technologies like cryptocurrency and blockchain. Dr. Ziegler started WellMoney, a money sharing community program where participants can receive cash money through the WellMoney App for financial emergencies.

FSIC AIOF Press Release – FSIC American Innovation and Opportunity Fund (AIOF) and EmsanaRx Announce an Innovative Health Equity Initiative

Today, the American Innovation and Opportunity Fund (AIOF), in conjunction with pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) EmsanaRx, announced a new initiative to help combat health disparities. Aimed at empowering communities of color and other underserved Americans to access and use the health care resources available in the U.S., this initiative comprises community leaders, academics and corporate leaders committed to this cause.

FSIC Housing Task Force Blog Post – CFPB Warning to Banks, Credit Unions, and Fintech on Potential Misuse of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Should not Discourage the Proper Use of Technology

Recently, the director of the CFPB, Rohit Chopra, publically warned banks that depending too much on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and algorithmic lending during the mortgage application approval process might lead to fair lending violations.  He contends that all AI-based algorithms have built-in bias and will always have some bias.  Our question to the CFPB is, why haven’t they made the same warning to traditional lenders (banks) whose approval processes result in alarming levels of documented bias against disadvantaged and minority borrowers?

FSIC Housing Task Force – Blog Post – GAO: Alternative Data Is Rare but Could Improve Mortgage Terms for Disadvantaged Communities

One issue our Housing Task Force aims to address is the lack of credit too many consumers face due to the limited information that credit bureaus collect. A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office adds some fresh findings that illuminate the problem.

FSIC Sends Letter to Congress – Don’t Hurt Marginalized Voices with Antitrust Internet Bills

We, the undersigned, request that the House Judiciary Committee antitrust bills, H.R. 3849, the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition Enabling Service Switching Act; H.R. 3826, the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act; H.R. 3816, the American Choice and Innovation Online Act; and H.R. 3825, the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, not be brought to the floor for a vote without serious changes.

AIOF MISBEF Microloan Program Helps Entrepreneur Launch Small Business

AIOF is pleased to announce Telia Garry of Richmond, VA as its first MISBEF Microloan Program Awardee.  As a Kiva Trustee, AIOF’s partnership with KIVA US, was launched earlier this year to enhance the ability of entrepreneurs to secure microfinance for the creation of small businesses.  Ms. Garry’s company, WERKitRVA, has developed an innovative approach, which will bring dynamism and innovation to the “Selfie Museum” concept. 

CRYPTOCURRENCY AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AT THE SEC:  The Case for an Investigation

As has been true in the past with other innovations, regulators have struggled with how to handle this new technology. This could not be any more evident than the actions taken by former Securities and Exchange Commission (US) Chairman Jay Clayton and his chief lieutenant, the former Director of Corporation Finance William Hinman. They were put in charge of the agency that possesses the most power to regulate such companies, but given no specific regulatory framework on how to treat cryptocurrencies – the asset class which powers this new technology. The result was a free hand for Clayton and Hinman to pick winners and losers at whim, which opened the door for potential abuse and self-dealing.

Artificial Intelligence and Algorithmic Lending Have the Potential to Reduce Discrimination in Mortgage Lending – White Paper March 2021

It is widely accepted that the key ingredient to accumulating wealth in the U.S. is home ownership.
Unfortunately, racial discrimination in the housing and lending industry has limited the ability of minority populations, particularly African Americans, to participate in this traditional means of wealth-building.
While the traditional housing finance system has a long history of discriminatory actions against African Americans and other minorities, the creation and deployment of technologies that remove much of the human element has been a path toward reducing discrimination in the system.
But, the question remains, can evolving artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic lending help address the systemic challenges of discrimination in the housing sector by shrinking and potentially eliminating racial bias in mortgage lending?

Leading Ladies of Richmond and FSIC Black History Month Event: African American Women Small Business Lending Workshop

FSIC American Innovation and Opportunity Fund (AIOF) in association with the Leading Ladies of Richmond and the SCL Global Policy Initiative are excited to announce the date for their “Small Business Lending Workshop”.   The event will be held via webinar on February 25, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET.

Press Release – FSIC Dream Creators Workforce Development Program Graduate Starts New Job

FSIC American Innovation and Opportunity Fund (FSIC) congratulates graduate Jordan Fitts from its most recent Dream Creators Workforce Development cohort. All program participants/students in the FSIC program receive advance training and incidental support prior to attended the Nash Community College Underground Electrical Line Construction program. Mr. Fitts recently received his graduation certificate and started his new job with Pike Energy in Raleigh, NC.

Op-Ed – Professional Sport Team Owners in US Prove Socialism Can Work

These “capitalists” [professional sport teams owners] understand that in order to have a thriving, competitive marketplace, a winner take all “laissez faire” economic approach does not work. In order to support a 30-40 team league, owners understand that the wealthier markets must support the smaller, poorer markets.

Brown, Booker, Harris Introduce Senate Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis

“We will not make progress until we acknowledge and address all of the ways that centuries of racism and oppression have harmed Black and brown Americans,” said Senator Brown. “This resolution is an important step toward recognizing the racial disparities in healthcare that have existed for far too long while also outlining concrete action we can take now to help reverse them. Though this resolution is not a solution in and of itself, it will help to lay the foundation for change that is continually subverted by and for the status quo. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important resolution.”

The Looming Real Estate Crisis Plus Opportunity Zones Will Exponentially Expand the Wealth Gap

It is not a secret that the real estate market is suffering during this COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing has caused businesses to shutter which has led to a decline in commercial real estate values. With workers forced to stay home, many people are unable to pay their rents and mortgages. These delinquencies will eventually lead to a large number of evictions and foreclosures. Opportunity Funds are poised to take advantage of this suffering.

FSIC Releases White Paper – The Marshall Plan for the Economic Recovery of Black America

As Americans deal with the ramifications of the Corona virus, the great racial disparities that have plagued African Americans for centuries have become starkly and deadly visible for all to see. An imperative exists for Congress to achieve the spirit of the 14th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act and enact affirmative remedies abolishing the residue of systemic racism. This inevitably requires developing a plan to save African American institutions including businesses, non-Profits, HBCUs and other entities serving traditionally under-resourced multicultural neighborhoods and communities.

Why Congress Should Postpone Implementation of Opportunity Zones and Consider Other Options

The Financial Services Innovation Coalition (FSIC) invites you to join us for a roundtable discussion titled: ” Why Congress Should Postpone Implementation of Opportunity Zones and Consider Other Options”. This discussion will be held Friday, December 13, 2019 at The Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2168, Washington, DC from 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST.

Opportunity Zone Fairness and Inclusion Act – Dear Colleague Letter – Congressman Hank Johnson

Under current provisions for Opportunity Zones, investors, developers, and their financial advisors benefit at the expense of communities the law is designed to help.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 established the Opportunity Zones Program as a tax benefit to incentive development in poor neighborhoods. By providing this preferential tax treatment to investors, economically-distressed communities were intended to benefit through job creation, new housing, and community development.

Letter to Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan re: segregated investment funds

Dear Mr. Dimon,
We are writing you to express our concerns over your announced creation of your “segregated” fund for minority businesses. This effort concerns us greatly and we fear it sends the wrong message. We do not understand why you feel the need to segregate out your investments in minority businesses. Why is it you cannot invest in Black businesses as part of your regular business strategy?

FSIC Charter Member Mary Jackson Testifies at First Hearing on H.R. 6139

WASHINGTON — (July 24, 2012) Today, a national coalition of financial services innovators, policy analysts and consumer advocates expressed strong support for recently introduced legislation to create a federal non-bank charter. The Consumer Credit Access, Innovation and Modernization Act would establish a common, national standard for non-depository financial services providers who, once freed from conflicting states’ lending laws, could provide bank-like credit products to a growing number of Americans largely abandoned by traditional banks.