Monday, December 9, 2019

Exclusion to #EconomicInclusion

All aboard the train from Poverty

By Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

AMWS, December 9, 2019, Atlanta – Imagine, if you can, a mountain top view where learners might envision an end to poverty.  Well, another #GivingTuesday has passed.  Sources say some $511M was raised on the day of giving--a 28% increase from 2018.  Over a half billion was raised, and yet way too many children are still growing up poor.

If you’re waiting for a way out of poverty, you may want to look to Generation Alpha.  That’s the generation, born between 2011 and 2025.  They’ll reach age 19 by the year 2030, and they are not interested in growing up poor.

The Urban Institute, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a plethora of policy partners have climbed the proverbial mountaintop to reveal a problematic future.  As Xers and Millennials plot their next step, YouthUSA is looking to Generations Z and Alpha for help.  NO POVERTY by 2030 means children in low income families growing up less poor, starting today.

Over the weekend, a corporate vision to merge SunTrust and BB&T is showing evidence of a 21st Century reality.  Truist employees took to social media to project confidence in an unknown brand.  “Three of the most common words associates and teammates used to describe each of the companies' cultures were trust, caring and integrity,” Truist reports. But, not one on a team of more than 100 have responded to our question, “What’s a Truist?.”

As Truist clients seek common understanding of the values, “trust, caring and integrity,” the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty has invested some intelligence on how we might leverage a $60 Billion Community Benefits Plan to end poverty in the U.S. 

In 2019, YouthUSA established FDIC Insured savings at SunTrust Bank.  We met with our branch manager and shared our vision for a Money-n-the-Bank deposit of $100 thousand dollars.  SunTrust agreed to growing our money at an interest rate of 2% or better—but not forever.  Money-n-the-Bank at SunTrust reflects the collective corporate asset held on behalf of YouthUSA economic beneficiaries, aka “Two Percenters,” those who make things happen.  WINNERS corporately “believe I can achieve whatever I believe I can achieve.” QUITTERS need not apply.

In 2020, expect the SunTrust brand to diminish as the Truist brand emerges.  Along the way, YouthUSA approached SunTrust Foundation to support a Learning Journey which would have provided a seat at the table for the BB&T SunTrust merger.  Who needs a seat at the table?  SunTrust managers and executives struggled with answers pondering their own fate after the merger.

Once SunTrust Foundation ignored our proposal, we reached out to an old friend at BB&T.  Tamika Stafford had been extremely helpful in making things happen for new homeowners in the Atlanta area.  But, when a complex solution required an established trust, PNC proved to be the right brand at the right time to partner on a unique model for #EconomicInclusion.

In late 2018, YouthUSA corporate leaders took a chance on SunTrust, only to learn of the pending merger.  Now, we’re reaching out to any banker with enough trust in Truist to invest time or money in TWO PERCENTERS.

QUESTION: What can you do with $100 million in Community Reinvestment?   

ANSWER: Engage beneficiaries in a vision of their own American futures.

NEXT QUESTIONS: How many beneficiaries? What is the program cost per beneficiary? What are the expected outcomes?

NEXT ANSWERS: YouthUSA Money-n-the-Bank qualifies 100 beneficiaries for #EconomicInclusion by 2025.  New beneficiaries are Americans, age 7-24.
The program matches a grassroots community reinvestment of $5 per person from twenty caring adults. 

The cumulative $100 establishes an IDA savings account at Truist.

YouthUSA matches each IDA $10 to $1 for a total value of $1100 per beneficiary.

The bank matches each YouthUSA IDA $10 to $1 for a total value of $11,000.

The U.S. Treasury (CDFI) matches each $11,000, $10 to $1 for a total of $110,000 per beneficiary.

One hundred (100) economic beneficiaries, each banking $110,000 at an interest rate of no less than 2% is an $11,000,000 return on a $100 million community reinvestment commitment.

Americans, born between 2011 and 2025, will reach age 19 by the year 2030, and they are not interested in being poor.  They will need to ENVISION an end to poverty by 2020 to achieve NO POVERTY by 2030.  The United Nations (UN) adopted 17 Goals 

#WeThePeople need to come together on.  

NO POVERTY is No 1 of 17 things to get done before #GivingTuesday2030.  Get this one right and we’re well on our way to becoming “a more perfect union” in their lifetime.  You could say that Generation Alpha is our new beginning.  Join us at

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

$100-m Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Fed approves BB&T “merger of equals” with SunTrust Banks, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia.  

By Stephanie A. Stradford and Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired

AMWS, November 20, 2019, Atlanta – As many Americans are consumed by politics of division, a faithful few have pressed toward the prize of community over chaos.  To be or not to be “one nation under God,” is the question.

Fruit of the poisonous tree” is just one biblically rooted legal metaphor that might apply to a century of bank mergers in the United States.  Recognizing that generations of underserved Americans can realize economic inclusion, some Money Smart Alliance members are promoting efforts to bring underserved consumers into the financial mainstream.

Youth Achievers USA Institute is a 501c3 public charity committed to helping children in low income American families grow up less poor.  YouthUSA has learned that finding the right bank partner is an essential step in transforming historical disadvantages into economically sustainable community enterprises. But what happens when a bank is too loose with the truth about treasury allocations?

The Federal Reserve Board has issued a consent order against SunTrust Banks, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia for unfair and deceptive practices.  According to the Fed, “SunTrust made misleading or inaccurate statements between 2013 and 2017 to certain business customers about the operation and billing for certain add-on products.”  The Fed reported that SunTrust repaid approximately $8.8 million in fees to customers and promised millions more in community reinvestment. 

As the SunTrust footprint diminishes, an historically rotten reality must somehow bear good fruit.  A new brand promises to restore community trust in banking.  The Federal Reserve Board met yesterday (Nov 19, 2019) and approved an application by BB&T Corporation of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to merge with SunTrust Banks, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia.   

As a condition of the merger, BB&T has committed that the resulting bank will comply with the enforcement action, including implementing procedures to verify the refunds and providing additional refunds, if required.

Already efforts are underway to determine who is included and who will be excluded from a $60 billion Community Benefits Plan.  "The Community Benefits Plan exemplifies what Truist will stand for and how it will support local communities in the years to come," said BB&T Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kelly S. King.

Truist committed to work with a Community Advisory Board composed of representatives of nonprofit organizations serving low-and moderate-income communities, with the goal of “providing information and updates on the progress of the plan, obtaining input and feedback on emerging issues,” and perhaps addressing challenges facing LMI families and communities.”

Armed Forces veterans and historically disadvantaged community entrepreneurs joined YouthUSA to engage low to moderate income Americans as economic beneficiaries in a $100-million Vibranium Trust .  TheEnterpriZe, LLC, a veteran-owned small business representing the YouthUSA Corporate Village has been tracking trust, or the lack thereof, following a 100-year history of bank mergers in the United States.

According to sources, the $60 billion Truist Community Benefits Plan is a three-year commitment.  It includes:

-$31 billion for home purchase mortgage loans to LMI borrowers, LMI geographies, minority borrowers and/or majority-minority geographies.

-$7.8 billion for lending to small businesses and to support the growth of businesses with revenues less than $1 million.

-$17.2 billion in Community Development Lending (CDL)to support affordable housing development, small business growth lending to nonprofits that support the LMI community.

-$3.6 billion in Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Qualified Investments and Philanthropy, of which $120 million will be designated for CRA-qualified philanthropic giving.

The branding of Truist Financial Institution comes at a time when America must awaken from a nightmare to become “one nation under God.”   In an economically inclusive vision of the future, “The poor can stop being poor if the rich are willing to become even richer at a slower rate.” Economic advisor Hyman Bookbinder pointed to this path way back during the Lyndon Johnson administration.  He added, “…unless a substantial sacrifice is made by the American people, the nation can expect further deterioration of the cities, increased antagonisms between the races, and continued disorders in the streets.”