NAACP, Wells Fargo team up to open financial education center in D.C.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in collaboration with Wells Fargo (WFC) opened its new financial education center on Monday to prevent unfair mortgage lending and promote sustainable homeownership in historically disadvantaged communities. The NAACP Financial Freedom Center will provide workshops on topics such as money management and home preservation through partnerships with community groups in the Washington, D.C., area. The center will also serve as a base for NAACP units across the country to learn and organize around financial and economic empowerment. The center opened on a somber day that marked the 43rd year after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated. NAACP’s agreement with Wells Fargo was initiated last year when it became the first bank to endorse the group’s responsible mortgage lending principles. “We applaud Wells Fargo for agreeing to increase financial education and wealth-building opportunities tailored to communities of color,” NAACP Chairman Roslyn Brock said. “This partnership will increase awareness and assist minority consumers in making informed decisions regarding financial products and services.” The agreement came after the organization dismissed a fair lending lawsuit against Wells Fargo. In 2007, NAACP filed a lawsuit against Wells alleging violations of the Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity acts and alleging racial discrimination. The suit was dismissed last year. The NAACP also filed lawsuits against more than a dozen of the largest financial institutions including JPMorgan Chase and Citibank over allegations of unfair lending practices and lending discrimination. Those lawsuits are still active, the suit said. “It became clear that we could produce more by working with Wells out of that dismissal,” said Dedrick Muhammad, senior director of economics program for the NAACP. “The lawsuit highlighted serious changes that Wells Fargo realized needed to be addressed.” As one of its first actions, the center will host a national effort to help victims of the BP Gulf spill with their financial issues. The center will host workshops and have financial counseling for those victims. The effort will begin on April 10 and go until April 12. Write to Shaina Zucker.

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