JPMorgan Chase has opened one of its few community center-format branches at Mondawmin Mall in West Baltimore, and announced Wednesday that the third installment in a $20 million commitment to the city will benefit small businesses.
The bank’s community center branch, the first of its kind in Baltimore and one of 14 nationally, will offer mentorship for entrepreneurs, financial health workshops and WiFi for remote learning and work. All programs and services are free and offered to customers and non-customers. JPMorgan Chase said the format is part of a $30 billion effort to help close the racial wealth gap.
“As JPMorgan Chase grows in Baltimore our firm will do its part to provide greater opportunity — especially for underrepresented and underserved populations,” said Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., in an announcement.
Dimon was expected to take part Wednesday in an official opening of the Mondawmin branch, which began doing business Nov. 29.
In the next installment of a $20 million, five-year philanthropic commitment announced in January, the bank also announced that it will donate $600,000 to The Harbor Bank of Maryland Community Development Corp. Harbor Bank plans to expand its Entrepreneurs of Color initiative through its Small Business Fund by offering technical assistance, access to capital and financial services to small and diverse-owned businesses.
Other beneficiaries announced earlier this year included West Baltimore-based Parity Homes and Catholic Charities of Baltimore.
Chase entered the Baltimore market in 2012 and now has 16 branches, with plans to expand to 36 over the next three years. New branches have opened in areas where the bank can have a meaningful presence in communities it serves, said Racquel Oden, its head of network expansion.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott touted the bank’s presence and programs as helping to promote equitable growth and access to financial services and close the wealth gap across the city.
Bank offerings include $5,000 homebuyer grants through Chase Home Lending to help cover closing costs or down payments for qualified buyers in underserved communities. The grants are available in 180 Baltimore neighborhoods. The bank also has closing cost benefits available for veterans and service members.
The bank has continued to invest in “economic mobility in historically redlined and underserved communities,” Scott said in a statement. “This is a great example of the role private institutions play in Baltimore’s renaissance.”
Other philanthropic commitments, part of the $20 million announced earlier this year, include $2 million over three years toward Parity Homes’ goal of buying, renovating and affordably selling 200 vacant homes in West Baltimore.
Since the grant award in January, Parity has acquired 30 homes, mostly from absentee landlords and in neighborhoods with 30% vacancy rates. Renovations are underway on three, all of which are presold and will be completed early next year, with an additional four in the pipeline and also presold. The developer has control of another 40 sites and said 40 homebuyers have put down deposits.
The three-year-old nonprofit expects to complete 20 rehabs next year and sell homes in the $240,000 to $260,000 range.
The developer aims to “address the historic harms like redlining that occurred in historically Black communities across the country, but we’re focused primarily in West Baltimore,” said Bree Jones, Parity’s founder and CEO. “The second goal is to increase Black homeownership and wealth.”
Another of the bank’s philanthropic beneficiaries, Catholic Charlies of Baltimore, received $125,000 this year to take over and expand Cherry Hill’s Safe Streets program. Catholic Charities also has run the gun violence prevention programs in Sandtown since 2016 and in Brooklyn since 2019.
“There were dramatic results ... in terms of reductions of shootings in Sandtown and death by guns,” said Bill McCarthy, the charity’s executive director.
The Chase grant will allow the organization to hire a community outreach worker and move the Cherry Hill program from its current spot at a family health center to the more visible Cherry Hill Town Center, which the charity had acquired and redeveloped 25 years ago, McCarthy said. The town center also is the site where Chase opened Cherry Hill’s first bank branch in decades in 2020.