City of Baltimore to Build Roadmap to Financial Empowerment

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Brandon M. Scott
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425



Baltimore chosen by Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund to create a roadmap that prioritizes financial mobility of Black residents

BALTIMORE, MD. (Tuesday, April 11, 2023) - Today, the City of Baltimore, along with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), announced their selection to participate in the CityStart initiative with a focus on racial wealth equity. The CityStart initiative helps local leaders identify financial empowerment goals, convene stakeholders, implement proven strategies, and ultimately craft a blueprint to help families and communities become more financially stable. Bloomberg Philanthropies' Greenwood Initiative, whose mission is to accelerate the pace of Black wealth accumulation in the U.S., is advising the CFE Fund and grantees on the design and execution of the CityStart program utilizing a racial wealth equity lens.

In this equity-focused iteration of the eight-year-old CityStart program, the CFE Fund will partner with eight localities across the country to help them address the financial empowerment needs of residents and the opportunities to meet those needs, prioritizing the financial stability needs of Black residents. Baltimore will receive an intensive technical assistance engagement partnership, along with a $75,000 planning grant. CityStart is part of a suite of investments from Bloomberg Philanthropies to promote financial stability among residents in U.S. cities.

Baltimore's history of racial inequity and injustice is complex and deeply rooted in City legislation and politics. The Baltimore Residential Segregation Ordinance of 1910 outlined efforts to push Black and Brown residents out of the city, creating areas of poverty and crowded, unsafe housing. Being the birthplace of redlining, Baltimoreans have experienced multiple forms of intentional disinvestment of communities of color, which continues to result in the inequities witnessed across the city today. Too many of Baltimore's working families are living in a state of persistent financial insecurity, one emergency away from falling into debt or losing a home. In Baltimore City, 20% of households live in poverty, 55% are liquid asset poor, not having enough savings to live above the poverty level for three months if they suffer an income disruption. Unemployment in Baltimore is consistently higher than statewide, and employment for the city's Black residents is three times that of white residents. The inability to bounce back from financial pitfalls threaten the well-being of families, undermine local economic development, create blighted neighborhoods, and jeopardize public safety. The CityStart initiative provides a unique opportunity to pull together disparate efforts across city governments focused on financial wellbeing to create a cohesive citywide strategy to address wealth inequities and build a city that allows for economic mobility and empowerment for all of its residents.

"One cannot speak about financial empowerment, in good conscience, without addressing racial wealth inequity. The birthplace of redlining and historical disinvestment in Black communities, like the one I grew up in, Baltimore is no stranger to racism's ability to squeeze the lifeblood out of communities," said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. "I am beyond excited that Baltimore was chosen by Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, and I look forward to watch residents get financially fit and pass that knowledge on to their children and families. Together, we will continue to fight the good fight for future generations who are relying on us to end financial disparities for our residents."

Baltimore, working with the CFE Fund, will craft its municipal financial empowerment blueprint identifying actionable implementation steps based on the financial needs of residents, especially Black residents; key Administration priorities; and partnership opportunities. Development of the blueprint will be informed by a series of meetings with key stakeholder groups, with a specific focus centering the needs of Black residents and identifying opportunities to address the racial wealth and assets gap, facilitate intergenerational wealth transfer, and build resident, family, and community financial stability.

In addition to the City of Baltimore, other selected partners chosen through a competitive process include Cleveland, OH; Monroe, LA; Newark, NJ; Norfolk, VA; Rocky Mount, NC; Sacramento, CA; and Tallahassee/Leon County, FL. In 2022, the CFE Fund worked with an initial cohort of Cincinnati, OH; Mobile, AL; and South Bend, IN; these cities are in the process of drafting their CityStart financial empowerment blueprints.

"Financial empowerment strategies are a critical tool for local leaders across the country working to improve their residents' financial stability. Through this next cohort of our CityStart initiative, local governments and stakeholders from across the community will create blueprints that aim to transform residents' financial lives and advance racial wealth equity," said Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund President and CEO Jonathan Mintz. "We congratulate Baltimore City Mayor Brandon M. Scott and look forward to working with him to harness the opportunities of financial empowerment work to benefit racial equity and wealth priorities in Baltimore, and we thank Bloomberg Philanthropies for their long standing partnership and investment in municipal financial empowerment."

"The lasting impact of systemic inequities in our economies and financial system is glaring, with the typical Black family holding one-eighth of the wealth of the typical White family. Without immediate and innovative interventions, Black people will continue to have less economic power and fewer opportunities to thrive," said Garnesha Ezediaro, who leads Bloomberg Philanthropies' Greenwood Initiative. "We are proud to continue our partnership with the CFE Fund's CityStart program and are excited to equip eight new local governments with the resources they need to strengthen financially related services for their residents. Intentional local investments like this one are needed to move towards racial wealth equity."

Baltimore is part of the fifth cohort of CityStart partners for the CFE Fund, and the second cohort of CityStart partners to focus their blueprints on racial wealth equity strategies; these eight new local government partners join thirty-two localities to date that have already completed the CityStart financial empowerment public blueprint process. Past partners have since created blueprints that outline their administration's public vision for integrating financial empowerment efforts within local government infrastructure.

About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)

The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders in over 100 cities and counties to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources - including 32 local governments that have already completed the CityStart engagement. The CFE Fund has disbursed over $59 million in grant support to municipal partners. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.

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