Treasury Department
Washington, D.C

11:44 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon — or good morning.  (Applause.)  Good morning, everyone.  Please have a seat.  Good morning.  Good morning, good morning.

It is my great pleasure to be here with Secretary Yellen and with all of you.  We’re looking forward to a robust and in-depth conversation.  And Secretary Yellen, I want to thank you for inviting me to share this after- — or this morning with you to have this very important discussion.

And to everyone — there are many leaders in this room; it’s a room full of leaders — I want to thank you for being here today and for joining us.

You know, earlier this year, I welcomed Mother Viola Fletcher and her younger brother Mr. Hughes Van Ellis to my Ceremonial Office at the Executive Office Building.

Mother Fletcher, as many of you know, is 107 years old.  And her younger brother, Mr. Van Ellis, is 100 years old.  And they both survived the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Mother Fletcher and Mr. Van Ellis were just children when a white supremacist mob burned down Black-owned homes and businesses, and decimated the Greenwood District.  But 100 years later, the memory of that tragedy — the smoke in the streets, the piles of bodies — was fresh in their minds, as was the memory of the thriving community that they lost.

By their account, by every account, the Greenwood District was a very special place and, I think we all know, was a very intentional place.  It was not the product of whim or fancy or circumstance; it was a design and intentional in that way.

And it was designed and intended to be a community — a thriving community within a community; an economy in which Black people supported one another, lift one another up, and modeled excellence, in which Black people could determine their own future.  Some of us refer to that as “self-determination” — to put equity firmly at the center of our economic policy.

So I talk about that today because I believe we must draw from the lessons of Greenwood and Freedman’s, of Sweet Auburn and Blaylock Van.  We must be intentional.

Here’s what I know to be true: America is a nation that is driven by the ambition and the aspirations of her people.  But I also know that, in America today, deep racial disparities continue to hold people back from achieving all they can.

Today, the wealth gap persists.  Today, the homeownership gap persists.  Today, access to capital is unequal.  As one example, Black entrepreneurs are three times more likely to report that a lack of access to capital negatively affects their profit margins.

I believe that the actions we are taking and must take to address these disparities will define our nation’s strength and economic strength in the 21st century.

Our economy is growing faster than it has in decades. Unemployment is down to 4.2 percent, and nearly 6 million jobs have been added since January.  As a nation, we cannot take this growth for granted, and we must make sure that everyone shares in this growth in order to sustain it.

In a moment, the Secretary and I are going to sit down here and we’re going to discuss some of the intentional actions that our administration is taking to lower costs for families and to remove barriers to success within all communities.

As but one example, we are increasing access to capital by supporting community lenders, also known as CDFIs and MDIs.  One of the last actions, in fact, that I took as a United States senator was to team up with Senator Mark Warner, Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Mike Crapo, Chairman Sherrod Brown, and Chairwoman Maxine Waters, who is here today.  Together, we secured $12 billion for community lenders as part of the COVID-19 relief bill.  (Applause.)

And this summer — and this summer, we released 1.25 billion of those dollars through our Rapid Response Program.  And we were very excited about that.  The Secretary and I did that together with so many of the leaders who are here.

And following up on that, today I am very proud to announce that almost $9 billion is now available to increase lending to small businesses in underserved communities.  (Applause.)

And I’ll say, “Yes, that’s a lot of money.”  I’m going to go off script for a minute.  (Laughter.)  Yes, that’s a lot of money.  That’s a lot of dough.  But what we also intend to do is to look to you — the leaders in the private sectors — to talk about how we can maximize the capacity of that infusion in a way that everyone is participating in the potential to exponentially grow that investment in our communities.

But needless to say, these $9 billion will dramatically increase the work of more than 175 community lenders across our nation.  This effort is close to my heart, and I know it’s close to many of us.  And it is certainly critical to our communities in every way, in terms of their potential, their capacity, and meeting their dreams with support and encouragement.

Throughout the year, I have consulted with the most active community lenders in our nation — those who serve rural communities in Oregon and urban communities in California, including my hometown of Oakland, California; those who serve low-income communities in the Mississippi Delta — Bill, I think you are here somewhere — pouring capital into communities that are starved of it, providing financial services to communities that lack those services entirely — communities like Itta Bena, a town of 1,800 with a median income of $17,000; communities filled with people with ambitions, with aspirations, with dreams for themselves and their children and their community.

I have consulted with many community lenders who serve Tribal communities in the plains of South Dakota, where Native women are making quilts that are important to their community, knowing there is a market for it based on the culture and traditions of those communities, and who needed a community lender — they needed a lender.  But it just so happens that the community lenders understand best the needs of these communities and see the potential then for growth.

Community lenders understand the value in providing access to capital directly to these communities.  They sit down with the folks in these communities.  They listen to the folks in these communities.  They identify with and understand these communities.  And that’s what makes them so successful.

And because they do, they add significant value to these communities and our entire country.

So here’s the bottom line: I believe that when we unlock the economic power of every community in America, there is nothing we cannot achieve in America.  When we unlock that power, our families will be more secure, our businesses will be more successful, and our nation will be more competitive.

When every community reaches its full potential, so too does America.

And so, ultimately, this is about the nation we are and the nation we want to be.

So, in closing, when I spoke with Mother Fletcher and Mr. Van Ellis in June, it was clear how far we have come
and how far we have yet to go.

I promised them that we would keep working to fulfill the vision of the Greenwood District and the promise of America — that we would keep working to build a nation in which every person has the support they need to determine their own future.  And that is exactly why we have all gathered here today: to do just that. 

Thank you all.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  And now, I will turn it over — I will turn it over now to an extraordinary leader who has been, for me, a true partner in this effort, the great Secretary Janet Yellen.  (Applause.)

SECRETARY YELLEN:  Thank you so much, Madam Vice President.  And welcome, everyone.  We are honored to host you at Treasury today.  This is the Freedman’s Bank Forum.  And I know most of us are familiar with the history. 

Founded by Lincoln in 1865 to help newly freed slaves build wealth, the bank’s books were in shambles by 1874, largely because of poor oversight by a Congress that had waning interest in reconstruction.

Frederick Douglass, who had agreed to be the bank’s president, tried to save it.  He deposited $10,000 of his own money. 

But the show of confidence didn’t work.  The bank failed, and more than 61,000 African Americans lost their savings. 

Douglass’s biographer, David Blight, called the affair “one of the great aspirations” but also “one of the great tragedies” of Reconstruction.

We’re here today because, in many ways, we are still living with both that aspiration and that tragedy.  The Vice President just described this very well.  From Reconstruction to Jim Crow to the present day, our economy has never worked fairly for Black Americans or, really, for any American of color.

Well, since stepping foot in this building last January, we have tried to change that, to finally make good on the aspiration of the Freedman’s Bank by transforming how Treasury works.  We have completed Treasury’s first equity review, looking across the department and asking: Where are our operations not as inclusive as they could be?

We’ve brought on the most diverse leadership team in Treasury’s history.  Half of our senior appointees are people of color.  And we’ve hired the department’s first-ever Counselor on Racial Equity.  If you haven’t met Janis Bowdler let [sic] — Bowdler yet, you will in just a moment.

Our most recent measure, though, is the news that the Vice President just mentioned: To our Emergency Capital Investment Program, or ECIP, Treasury will be injecting nearly $9 billion into community development financial institutions and minority depository institutions.  The CDFIs and MDIs serve communities the financial sector historically has not served well.  And most of the time, these are communities of color.

If you are Black or Hispanic or Asian or a Native entrepreneur, we know it’s harder to get your hands on funding to open a shop or to keep the lights on or to meet customer demand.  And this has been particularly true during the pandemic.

In the recent Small Business Credit Survey, the Fed found that while roughly 40 percent of white-owned firms reported receiving all the non-emergency funding they sought last year, the number for Hispanic-owned firms was just half that — 21 percent.  And for Black-owned firms, it was just 13 percent. 

Now, contained in that 13 percent is a woman named Brandi Shelton.  I met Brandi a few months ago when I visited her tea shop in Atlanta; “Just Add Honey” is its name.  Brandi owned the shop.  She used to own three “Just Add Honeys,” in fact, but during the pandemic, when money was tight, she needed credit to keep her other locations afloat, and no one would give it to her.

Fiscal policy can be a complex thing.  Sometimes it’s very difficult to state with clarity and certainty how a particular program or statute will change someone’s life.  But that’s not the case here, because here it’s very easy to connect policy with the personal. 

You can draw a straight line from the money we’re injecting into high-performing CDFIs and other institutions to a tea shop in Atlanta.  Because what this will do is prevent small-business owners of color from closing two of their locations.  And better yet, it will help people open two more.  It will ensure that our markets no longer provide just a small fraction of businesses with the funding they need.

Of course, one program is not enough to fully make up for the tragedy or make good on the aspirations of the Freedman’s Bank or of the Greenwood District, which the Vice President spoke about.  But it is a start, and you should know this is just one example of how we’re implementing pandemic relief with equity at the heart of things.

The last thing I want to say is this: None of this is happening by default, and I’m so glad that Chairwoman Waters is here today because she helped push this program through Congress. 

But most — (applause) — but most of all, Madam Vice President, I want to thank you because you helped design the ECIP legislation when you were still “Senator Harris” and you shepherded this program from a policy paper idea out into the world. 

Madam Vice President, thank you.  And I’m looking forward to our conversation.

So with that, let me invite — (applause) — Janis Bowdler, our new Racial Equity Counselor, who’s going to moderate for us.

MS. BOWDLER:  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Well, I cannot tell you how amazing it is to be onstage with two of my true heroes.  I spent the last two decades of my career advocating for people of color to be able to build a nest egg that will secure their retirements, that they can share with their children.  And it is an incredible honor to join an administration that is centering equity, that is putting issues of economic justice and equity as a part of their agenda.

Today, we have with us, clearly, two people who you’ve already met, who need no introduction, who have been stalwart advocates for many years. 

I’ve had a chance to get to know Secretary Yellen.  Her work speaks for itself: decades of centering women and people of color in her work. 

And, Madam Vice President, you may not remember this, but we had a chance to meet when you were “AG Harris,” when you came to visit an Unidos affiliate — East Los Angeles Community Corporation.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Of course.

MS. BOWDLER:  And we walked the streets of Boyle Heights, talking with families who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure. 

You simply cannot walk away from families who are at risk of losing everything through no fault of their own without feeling the weight of that tragedy.  And so, I know that for both of you, this comes from a place that is personal, that builds on decades of your experience. 

And so that’s where I would like to start, actually.  And we’ll start with you, Madam Vice President.

If you could share with us how you got into issues of economic justice and equity.  What brings you to this work as one of our passionate, leading advocates?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, in many ways I was born into it.  As many of you know, my parents were active in the civil rights movement.  And I talk a lot about Thurgood Marshall being one of my heroes and guiding lights, in terms of the work I’ve chosen to do. 

But it was — it was Dr. King, remember, who was organizing the sanitation workers, who was — and I think — frankly, I think many of us do — that was part of why he was assassinated, because he was starting to join, intentionally, the civil rights movement with the economic justice movement, in particular around organized labor and building a powerful coalition, potentially — understanding that the economic justice piece is something all people in our country have experienced, depending on where they’ve grown up and the conditions in which they have.

A. Philip Randolph — another hero growing up — who, of course, organized the porters and was one of the first real incredibly forceful labor leaders because he was organizing a group of porters — professional in — Black men who — you know, it is the challenge of organizing workers, but then organizing workers in a system where people were legally not treated as equal, in addition to in the workplace not treated as equal.

Let’s not forget Fannie Lou Hamer.  Remember that she thought about how she would cre- — basically provide, for farmers, free pigs and finance that — which is about a capital investment — so that they can then grow the capacity of their farms and, by extension, their wealth and economic health and wealth.  

So, these were the — these were very much, in my childhood, through my life, the examples of how you fight for justice.  A big part of that is fighting for economic justice. 

And you mentioned — and I’ll just talk briefly about this — but the — the foreclosure crisis.  So, when I was attorney general, many of you may remember, I pulled California out of the negotiations with the big banks.  It was very controversial at the time.  I want to, again, acknowledge Congresswoman Maxine Waters because you stood with me.

And in the foreclosure crisis that started to really become evident around 2006, ‘07, let’s remember that Black and brown homebuyers were, on average, charged twice as much in terms of interest rates.  And so, by no coincidence, after I became Attorney General in 2011 and starting tracking the foreclosure crisis, you will know that Black and brown homeowners then were twice as likely to be foreclosed upon.  It’s a very blatant cause and effect. 

And so, throughout my career and my life, I have seen vivid examples of this issue.

MS. BOWDLER:  And, Madam Secretary, I’ve heard you talk about what it was like to come back to work from maternity leave at a time when maybe that wasn’t a common practice in the field of economics.

SECRETARY YELLEN:  Well, absolutely.  So, my son was born in 1981.  My husband and I both worked.  And we realized that if we were both going to stay employed and have careers, it would be necessary to find affordable childcare.

Now, fortunately, we were able to find it and we could afford to hire someone who took wonderful care of our son.  But what I realized from that experience and from all the work that I’ve done in labor economics and we’ve done here reviewing the childcare situation is that childcare in the United States is simply unaffordable for the vast majority of working families.  It consumes, for those who get it, something like 13 percent of their income.  And it holds many women — particularly women — back so that they’re not able to advance their careers.

And in addition, it’s a very — in part, because families simply can’t afford that, it’s an occupation that pays very low wages and has very poor working conditions.  And many — especially women of color — are employed doing that and trapped in jobs that are tremendously important to us as an economy, as a community, but really not able to make ends meet. 

So, we’ll talk, I think, later about policy, but I would say that this administration, President Biden, and Vice President Harris are very focused on changing this situation. 
And our Build Back Better legislation, which is before Congress now, would make an enormous change to improve this. 

Childcare would become affordable for most families — no more than 7 percent of their income.  It would provide two years of universal early childhood education, which is not only important for families to promote their ability to work, but also for children.  These investments have been shown to make a great difference to the success of children.  And Child Tax Credit, which is tremendously important in making sure that families can support their children.

MS. BOWDLER:  It sort of makes us wonder how many other Secretary Yellens might be out there.  (Laughter.)  But for the ability to get childcare, to have the kind of investment that has been more limited in our communities, we have unrealized potential that is left on the table. 

And so, we know that COVID exacerbated health inequities.  We knew that that was already there, but so were preexisting racial/economic inequities, structural racism.  And that’s why, as we think about recovery, it’s important that we center equity as part of that agenda.  Otherwise, we’re just going to continue to move along kind of reinforcing a gap that exists.  And as has been alluded to, the administration has done so much on this already. 

So, as we come to the close of our first year — can you believe it?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Dog years.  (Laughs.)

MS. BOWDLER:  It’s been nearly a full year.  (Laughs.)  What are some of the administration’s biggest accomplishments?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, there are many.  There are actually many.  I would say an overriding accomplishment has been — and it’ll — I think this group will appreciate it: We have really taken the time to sit back and think what will provide the greatest return on our investments.  And we have decided that investing in America’s workers, investing in people, investing in families will yield the greatest return on our investment. 

And so you can look at everything from, as the Secretary said, the Child Tax Credit.  We know that, as of today — the latest numbers I saw — we have raised 40 percent of America’s children out of poverty.  Think about the return on that investment.  That’s profound.  (Applause.) 

We have been operating on the principle.  I did an event last week, which was the first time that we brought maternal health to the White House stage.  And we did that event because, as the New York Fed has pointed out, healthy economies require healthy mothers and healthy children.  And so, paying attention to the fact that we spend billions of dollars a year as a nation when we don’t invest in maternal health; when we don’t recognize that Black women are three to four times more likely to die in connection with childbirth; when we don’t recognize that when we’re looking at Native women, they’re twice as likely; rural women are 60 percent more likely.

So, we are thinking about: Where do you get the greatest yield for your investment?  What we did at the beginning with the American Rescue Plan, in addition to the Child Tax Credit, was about recognizing that part of the economic lifeblood of all communities are our small businesses; that they are not only part of the economic lifeblood, but if you connect a thriving economy with a thriving community and understand that our small-business leaders are also civic leaders, they are also community leaders, and what we did with the PPP program and also what we did to recognize how previous outreach to, in particular, minority- and women-owned businesses have not worked, and so let’s do a better job of engaging them. 

And the long-term goal there was that through what we did to better engage in a rescue approach would be what we will do to engage in terms of a continuing investment approach.  So, these are some of the many things.

I did an event yesterday in Maryland on electric vehicles.  I’m very excited about them.  I believe that the future of transportation is electric.  And let’s take a look at — in particular, I’m very excited I must confess, about electric school buses.

Yes, I went to school on a yellow school bus — (laughter) — and so I do have — I have good memories of that.  I hope you all do too.  But here’s the other piece of it: At least pre-COVID, 25 million children in America a day going to school on those school buses, breathing those toxic fumes from diesel buses. 

Studies have shown what that will do to impact their ability to learn.  And who are the children who go to school on the bus?  Usually, the children who don’t have the neighborhood school, children who don’t have — their parents may not have a car to take them to school.  We know who is likely, demographically, to go to school on that bus.  We know, demographically, who’s likely to drive that bus every day, also breathing those fumes. 

So, I could go down a long list, but I think that the — the general point that I would make — that I know the Secretary and I both, in the midst of very long days, that gets us going every day — is knowing that we are really investing in the people of our country, and we know there’s going to be a great return on that investment. 

MS. BOWDLER:  And, Madam Secretary, we are living through other seismic shifts in our economy as well; for example, the way that climate change is affecting the economies of Native Nations and disrupting the financial experiences of other communities of color.

So you’ve mentioned some of this in your opening remarks, but say a little bit more about how Treasury is centering the most vulnerable in our work to rebuild the American economy.

SECRETARY YELLEN:  Well, thanks, Janis.  Let me just say the Treasury has been focused like a laser on racial equity since day one.  And we’ve conducted a top-to-bottom review of what we do, both internally in terms of our own hiring and promotion plans and also in terms of all of the policies and programs that we implement.  And it was my pleasure, Janis, to bring you, one, as our first-ever Racial Equity Counselor.

MS. BOWDLER:  Thank you.

SECRETARY YELLEN:  I’m thrilled that you joined us to make this your mission to focus systematically on everything that Treasury does.  And we’re also establishing a new Racial Equity Advisory Committee, and we’ll be making appointments to that soon. 

But the Vice President talked about the various programs that we have in place that are intended, in the future, to build back better, to promote racial equity. 

Treasury also has the enormous privilege and responsibility of implementing almost a trillion dollars’ worth of programs under the American Rescue Plan.  And we have very intentionally focused in our management of these programs on racial equity — on making sure that help gets, as Congress intended, to those who need it most — and that the rules that we set up and parameters for running this program don’t disadvantage the people that these programs are intended to help.

You mentioned, Madam Vice President, the PPP program, which we initially found just wasn’t getting money into communities of color. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Right.

SECRETARY YELLEN:  And when we began to manage that program, we focused very much on ensuring that CDFIs would have access; those who are best able to get the money into these communities, that they would have privileged access to the funding to make sure that help got there. 

And, really, this has been true in our management of all of the programs.  Just to give an example, you mentioned the Child Tax Credit, which has had an enormous — a 40 percent reduction in poverty rates is just extraordinary.  But we have to make sure that it gets to all those who are eligible. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.

SECRETARY YELLEN:  And this was something that it wasn’t an easy program to implement, but it was relatively easy to get relief, to get monthly checks to people who file tax returns.

But there are many low-income people —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.

SECRETARY YELLEN:  — particularly in communities of color, that aren’t required to fire — file tax returns, and they’re eligible for that credit. 

And it’s a lot more work to make sure they know about it, that they have the tools to apply for it.  And that’s the kind of thing that we’ve been focused on.

Emergency Rental Assistance, another program — well, you know, we want to make sure that these programs — that the money gets to people who really qualify.  And you could imagine establishing criteria that — “Well, you have to have five years’ worth of W-2s and rental contracts and canceled checks to show that you’re eligible for this support.” 

And if we ran the program that way, probably very few —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  That’s right.

SECRETARY YELLEN:  — homeow- — or renters who are really in need, about to lose the roofs over their heads, would end up getting help.  So — and that would be particularly true in communities of color. 

So, we’re focused in our implementation on self-attestation and ways to make sure that, in our implementation, we’re not excluding the people who were most intended to benefit. 

And I could give you a lot more examples, but I want to say that it’s been a conscious goal to make sure that everything is implemented so that money goes to the communities and helps the people for whom it’s really intended.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And if I could just add something: What the Secretary has been doing throughout her career and as Secretary of the Treasury is also recognizing that some of these designs were just designed not to benefit the people we’re talking about.  Or, you know, there’s a better way to say this: It was designed to benefit other people.  (Laughs.)  (Applause.)

It — it was designed to benefit people who have access, who have information, who — right? — who already have capital and then build and grow that. 

And so, it’s not only about a state of mind in terms of this new approach; it’s about restructuring a system.

MS. BOWDLER:  Yes.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And I think it’s really important to — to understand that that’s part of the work that is at play, is to think about how we actually can and must restructure these systems so that they work for everyone.  And again, that brings us, always, back to the importance of CDFIs.

MS. BOWDLER:  Absolutely.  I think what’s incredible here, and what you both are touching on, is that we are facing structural challenges that require structural solutions.  And this administration has put forward bold, once-in-a-generation kinds of investments that are completely reimagining the way that our economy is going to work for communities of color.

We know, sitting here at this table, that we can’t do that work alone.  And so, I want to pause for just a moment and take in this room, because we have here with us, in the room and on our livestream, a really incredible brain trust of leaders from corporate America, leading advocacy nonprofits, academics, think tanks.  I think we have what we need in this room to really solve the challenges that we’re facing. 

So, Madam Vice President, what would you say to folks here?  How can they get on board and support our shared goal of eradicating the racial wealth divide?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  How much time do we have?  (Laughter.) 
Well, I’ll start with this — to your point about who is in the room — and the Secretary mentioned this, and we all know — part of the challenge of ensuring equal access and equitable distribution of resources is we — the people need to know their rights, they need to know what’s available to them, and they also need to have the tools to navigate a system and the information about what that system is.

And so, that is about using our collective voice, hopefully always fueled with the goal of increasing the coalition, so that we can improve information and access.

 You know, there is a reality of what we are also dealing with at this moment in our country and in our world, which is informed, I think, most recently by the pandemic and the extraordinary loss that people have experienced — loss of life, loss of jobs, loss of normalcy. 

     And — and there is a feeling also, combined with a number of other factors, about whether folks can trust the system, whether they can believe in the system, whether it is working for them, whether it sees them.

 And I do believe one way — one way to address that is to make sure that we are always empowering folks about their rights and what is available to them so that they don’t have to experience things happening to them.  They can actually exercise, as I said earlier, self-determination.

And so, I would — I would ask this group to let us continue to work together around how we talk about what we need to do.

 I’m going to bring up another point, which may not seem connected with this topic but is, and that’s voting rights. 

You know, I just — I was a little late coming here because I was with the President in the Oval Office.  He and I go through the — the daily brief — the confidential daily brief every morning — classified information about threats to our national security and threats around the world.

  One of the threats that I think everyone is aware of is this really increasing debate around the globe about autocracies versus democracies: Which is more efficient?  Which is more effective?  Which can survive?  Which is but an experiment that may have a shelf life of a couple of centuries? 

 And I think we would all agree that when we are talking about free and fair markets, when we are talking about investing in the capacity of people, investing in innovation, encouraging all of that, that democracies are nurturing — imperfect though they may be — for that kind of spirit and approach and growth and strength.

And so, when we think about something like this ongoing, blatant challenge to one of the strongest and most important pillars of a democracy, which is free and fair elections, I would ask us to think about the connection between that and the conversation we’re having right now. 

Because our democracy is being threatened by certain particular things, including this attack on voting rights.  And we should see the natural progression of where this could end up on many issues, including the issue of whether we have a society that allows small businesses to thrive, communities to grow economically.  There is a — there is a relationship, and I believe it is a direct relationship. 

And so please participate in helping us fight to save our democracy.  And that includes, as a most evident and current issue, fighting for the right of all people, whoever they vote for, to vote.  (Applause.)

MS. BOWDLER:  Madam Secretary, I’d love to give you the last word.  What can we say to the — our audience here?

SECRETARY YELLEN:  Well, let — let me also say our objective is to partner with everyone in this room.  The government, the Biden administration is very focused on using new resources to inject lending capacity in businesses in communities of color.  But this is not something that we can accomplish on our own without the help of everyone in this room.

We’re injecting some capital to support institutions that have a capacity to make a big difference in their communities.  But we need you to co-invest with us to provide resources that will leverage those investments to really make a meaningful difference in these communities. 

And we need so much more that you can do.  And I’ve had the pleasure of discussing this with some of you of this morning — business leaders who are here today.

You can help train people to work and to be employable in the businesses that are going to be created or in America’s businesses today. 

You can promote diversity and inclusion, making sure that leadership starts from the top and that you focus on this in your own organizations.

You can provide technical training and resources to the CDFIs and MDIs that we’re investing in, and to the organizations, to the companies that they’re going to fund to make sure that they’re successful.

You can be the customers of those companies to make sure that they have business opportunities and that these investments can scale.

And we need to work together to make sure that all of our resources are going to support viable and self-sustaining improvements in these communities.

MS. BOWDLER:  I want to — yes — (applause) — I want to thank you all for joining us as we commemorate Freedman’s Bank. And while we are committed to this being an annual event, we don’t want this to be a once-a-year dialogue.  We want to be in conversation with you throughout the year ahead. 

So, for those of you who are joining us on livestream, thank you much for joining us.  We’re going to take a break for lunch.  We will be back around 1:35 for closing remarks with Ambassador Rice.  I hope that you are able to reconvene with us then.

For those here in the room, please join me in thanking Madam Vice President, Madam Secretary.  (Applause.)

                                   END                  12:30 P.M. EST

Stay Connected

We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

Scroll to Top
Top