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MLS Announces Partnership With Black Banks to Close Racial Wealth Gap

Major League Soccer (MLS) and National Blank Bank Foundation (NBBF) leaders join with Dr. Bernice A. King to announce MLS’s historic $25 million transaction with Black-owned banks across the country. L to R: NBBF Co-Founder Brandon Comer; Black Players For Change Founder and MLS veteran Quincy Amarikwa; King Center CEO Dr. Bernice A. King; MLS Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Sola Winley; NBBF Co-Founder Ashley Bell.

MLS Will Leverage Historic $25 Million Loan With Black Banks

Major League Soccer is attempting to do its part to help close the racial wealth gap.

Thursday, the league announced a partnership with the nonprofit National Black Bank Foundation (NBBF). Through it, the league will leverage a $25 million loan with eight Black banks.

According to MLS, the historic deal would mark the first time any sports league has participated in a major commercial transaction exclusively with Black-owned banks.

"Major League Soccer's partnership with the National Black Bank Foundation is a tangible step in the efforts to close the racial economic gap in the United States, and it's the right business decision for us," MLS Commissioner said Don Garber of the reasoning behind the move in a statement. 

"As a league, we continue to increase our initiatives in support of racial justice. In order to make a genuine impact, economic justice must be part of the equation. This transaction with a syndicate of community-focused Black banks is an important measure, and it is our hope this will raise awareness of the importance of Black-owned banks and their impact on the economy."

Dr. Bernice A. King, National Black Bank Foundation board member and King Center CEO, added, "I brought MLS and NBBF together because I saw an opportunity to create a partnership with the power to transform lives in Black communities and change hearts and minds throughout our nation. This deal undoubtedly marks an important moment in the continuing struggle for civil rights in the United States."

According to the Federal Reserve, the Black-white economic gap in the United States has remained virtually untouched since the Civil Rights Movement. Historical efforts by Black families to escape the continuum of poverty by building intergenerational wealth, primarily through homeownership and small business entrepreneurship, have been thwarted by racialized credit access. In 2020, lenders denied Black mortgage applicants at a rate 84% higher than white borrowers.

The terms of the loan have yet to be disclosed, but it is known the interest and fees will be paid in advance, creating what's called Tier 1 capital — which the league says will almost immediately allow the banks to offer more loans and lines of credit in Black and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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