Bank of Montreal (BMO) has announced a substantial commitment of $5 million to bolster affordable homeownership and foster the growth of small businesses. The funds are part of the bank’s more than $40 billion community benefits plan, BMO EMpower 2.0, aimed at enhancing the lives of local communities.
The grants will support housing counseling agencies, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and other non-profit organizations that assist in preserving affordable homeownership and providing support for small businesses. The bank will direct approximately $2 million of the funds towards the state of California.
Kimberley Goode, Chief Communications and Social Impact Officer at BMO, said, “Investments like these are at the core of our Purpose, to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life. These grants will strategically support vital community organizations to increase minority homeownership, drive the development of affordable housing and support the growth of small businesses to help the communities we serve achieve real financial progress.”
Under this commitment, $3 million will be devoted to advancing homeownership over two years, addressing the racial wealth gap and promoting homeownership in low-income and minority communities. The fund will collaborate with more than 60 organizations, including the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), and the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), to support minority homeownership.
Courtney Jones, Third Vice President of NAREB, commented on the partnership: “Our partnership with BMO seeks to create homeownership opportunities for young adults that establish a solid understanding and promotion of financial growth as they begin their adult lives.”
Local affiliates from the National Urban League and numerous local non-profit and community partners will also be key contributors to this endeavor to increase minority homeownership and close the racial wealth gap. “Bringing access to these communities to achieve homeownership promotes long term financial success and the opportunity to build wealth for future generations,” added Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League.
An additional $2 million commitment over two years will focus on small businesses, providing better access to capital, educational resources, and meaningful networking opportunities. This will aid in making businesses more resilient and scalable, with offerings such as expanded credit criteria and competitive interest rates for credit up to $50,000, practical tools, templates, webinars, coaching, and alternative funding sources.
Particularly, BMO is tailoring comprehensive business programs for Women, Black, Latinx, and Native-owned businesses in the communities it serves. The bank’s Black and Latinx Small Business Program, set to provide minority-business owners with better access to capital, educational resources, and meaningful networking opportunities, will be available later this year.
The recent $5 million commitment is a testament to BMO’s relentless focus on increasing homeownership and supporting small business growth, particularly in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and communities of color.
This initiative is not only a milestone for BMO but also a beacon of hope for minority homeowners and small businesses. It underscores the potential of strategic partnerships and investments to drive financial growth and foster a more inclusive economy.
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