Wells Fargo Scholarship recipients Michelle Carr and Henry Sissac at the 2015 The Skanner Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast.
Wells Fargo team members will present the first in a quarterly series of Financial Fellowship Seminars in Portland on Feb. 28 with head pastors and associate pastors from about 25 local African American churches expected to attend.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to work directly with those who most often and traditionally influence our communities. Whether the economy is good or bad, the church tends to be one of the first places people go for economic advice," said Community Development Officer Cobi Jackson.
Congregants often turn to their pastor for advice about a financial issue, whether it's a mortgage problem, college loan, or retirement. The pastor might not know how to guide them. The seminars are intended to inform the pastors about these issues and the many services available at Wells Fargo in the event that someone they know seeks financial advice, Jackson said.
The seminar will run 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and consist of a number of financial education presentations by Wells Fargo team members. The topics will include avoid foreclosure, plan for retirement, buy a home, repair a damaged credit history and seek a job at Wells Fargo.
Jackson worked with Community Outreach Consultant Frank Howard Jr. and Regional Diverse Segments Consultant Darius Toston (both of Home Mortgage) to organize the seminar. All three will speak there.
“The clergy has an avenue to the community that seems to be underserved or is not coming out for our financial literacy and homeownership education,” said Frank. “They might be able to reach that section of the community we haven’t been able to tap.”
Jackson, Frank and Darius modeled the content on a similar program Wells Fargo has run in Los Angeles for about three years, said Frank. The L.A. program has helped the community there become stronger financially, increased our company's connection with the community and led to opening new Business Banking and Retail Banking accounts, he said.
The other presenters will include Regional Manager Kirk Mandlin of Wells Fargo Advisors, Business Banking Specialist Ahquoya Crews and Human Resources Staffing Specialist Betty Lane.
Running the Business of the Church
The seminars will also give pastors advice about how to run the business of their church. Many churches have been hard hit economically as donations from their congregations have dropped, said Jackson. Some churches have commercial real estate they could sell or develop. Others run day care programs.
“If we can help them grow as a business, they can be better prepared to help their congregations,” she said.
The organizers have been working with Ray Shellmire, the head of the Portland Community Development Consortium. He has been helping the Albina Ministerial Alliance create a community development plan for its member churches.
This will be the first time churches in Portland will come together to learn more about the economics of their church and financial literacy for their congregations, he said.
An Historic Moment
“So this is kind of a historic moment that we’re trying to establish here," Ray said. “The faith based community is a strong part of the black community. Economic awareness, education and support are key to being healthy and successful in any community."
Ray said he wants the seminars to be offered quarterly to different churches and other religious institutions, as well as to community organizations that provide social services to families and children.
“There are quite a few faith-based organizations that could benefit from this knowledge and awareness, as well as community organizations connected to the black community,” he said.