Philadelphia housing programs, minority businesses boosted by bank foundations

Della Clarke, left, president of the Enterprise Center, and Otis Rolley, head of Philanthrophy and Community Impact at Wells Fargo, walk along the 52nd St. business corridor to see how their investment and involvement have helped and what more needs to be done.

Media Outlet


Stephen Williams

Local housing programs, minority businesses and nonprofit groups in Greater Philadelphia are getting a much needed boost from funding from major bank foundations that have large operations in the area.

The Enterprise Center announced the completion of a new three-story Business Center on May 11, near 52nd and Market streets, built by a group of 16 contractor companies that are 100% minority-owned, thanks to a $1.5 million grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, along with another $1 million in public financing.

“We are focused on five key areas: housing affordability and access; financial health; small business growth; and community impact,” said Otis Rolley, head of Philanthrophy and Community Impact at Wells Fargo. “We had an opportunity to gather with the Enterprise Center and talk about some of our investments and investments of other partners in the community and hear about some of the benefits and current impact they have had, and some of the gaps.”

Rolley, who also is the president of Wells Fargo Foundation, was in Philadelphia this month along with Della Clarke, president of the Enterprise Center, and several city and state government officials for a ribbon-cutting for the center, which will serve as a small business resource hub.

“It’s always good to have those conversations but it is good to get out of the boardroom,” Rolley said. “Sometimes you have to walk the streets and come to the businesses that have been impacted, to see the work that has been done and what has to be done.”

Afterward, Rolley and members of the group toured the 52nd Street business corridor, where the bank has invested in a number of businesses.

Earlier this month, TD Charitable Foundation awarded $7 million to dozens of nonprofit groups for affordable rental housing on the East Coast, and part of that amount was $575,000 in the Philadelphia area, including: $150,000 to Congreso de Latinos Unidos; $150,000 to HopePHL, (formerly the People’s Emergency Center) both in Philadelphia; and $175,000 to ACLAMO Family Centers in Norristown.

Congreso de Latinos provides education, housing, health, family support services and workforce development to mostly Latino neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

HopePHL provides housing, family services and truancy prevention to underserved neighborhoods in the city.

ACLAMO serves mostly Latino communities in Norristown in the areas of housing, health, education and social services.

“The affordable housing crisis continues to burden the most vulnerable members of our communities and the organizations committed to supporting them,” said Paige Carlson-Heim, Director of the TD Charitable Foundation. “At TD, we’re committed to doing our part to help create a more sustainable and inclusive future for everyone, and that includes providing access to safe, affordable homes.”

The 17th annual Housing for Everyone grant recipients were awarded to 37 nonprofits this year. The grants totaled between $150,000 and $250,000 and support groups that provide rental assistance, rehabilitate affordable rental housing, and help residents to sustain housing in the long-term.

“This year’s grant recipients are mission-critical to that work, and the TD Charitable Foundation is proud to support them in their efforts to create a positive impact and a pathway to housing stability in the communities we serve,” Carlson-Heim said.

Formed in 2005, the Housing for Everyone grant program has awarded about $50 million to nonprofit groups and helped support more than 550 affordable housing programs in the communities TD serves. TD Bank is based in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Last year, Wells Fargo provided a $7.5 million grant to the Urban League of Philadelphia, in order to expand homeownership opportunities for people of color, known as the “Philly 5 by 25.”

The funding came from Wells Fargo’s Wealth Opportunity Restored Through Homeownership (WORTH) initiative, a $60 million nationwide effort to address systemic barriers to homeownership for people of color. Philadelphia is one of several U.S. markets to receive a WORTH grant, which seeks to create 5,000 new homeowners of color by December 2025 within the city.

At the time, Keith Bethel, Board Chair of the Urban League, said it was more committed than ever to help first-time homebuyers.

“Philly 5 by 25 will ensure that more Philadelphians have an opportunity to raise their families in quality affordable housing and create a pathway to intergenerational wealth,” Bethel said.

The Urban League in Philadelphia has a nationally recognized housing counseling program that helps first-time homebuyers and helps people stay in their homes.

Meanwhile, the 52nd Street corridor is garnering a lot of attention.

In 2022, JP Morgan Chase opened a Chase Community Branch at 52nd and Market streets, one of more than a dozen branch/community centers it opened in underserved neighborhoods in Akron, Ohio; Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Miami; New Orleans; Oakland; and Washington, D.C.

In addition to normal banking services like checking accounts, credit cards, mortgages and small business loans, these branches offer several other services free of charge, such as classes on financial literacy and small business ownership.

They also have spaces for business owners to hold meetings, free Wi-Fi and a multipurpose community room that can be used to hold events, also free of charge.

According to Chase Community Manager Chandra Williams, the bank has hosted more than 175 financial health events in the Philadelphia region since it opened in 2022 and held more than a dozen workshops. The community space is booked through June.

Speaking at a branch grand opening in February, Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase CEO, said the community bank branches are part of its $30 billion commitment to invest and promote economic growth and opportunity in Black and brown communities nationwide by 2025.

Like other banks, Dimon said, Chase had several programs designed to do more business in underserved Black and brown neighborhoods, but after the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the bank’s executives said it wasn’t enough.

To be sure, the Chase Plan also calls for more spending for home loans, building affordable housing, mortgage refinancing, investing in community banks in underserved areas, and providing small business loans.

For instance, the West Philadelphia branch offers a $5,000 grant for homebuyers seeking mortgages in Black, Hispanic or Latino communities along with a $2,000 Veterans Administration purchase closing benefit for veterans.

Khaliff Young, of South Philadelphia, got a mortgage from the Chase branch to buy a home for his family that he had rented for years.

“The thinking that came out of that was we have to do more,” Dimon said. “We came together and we formulated a plan. Part of that plan was the community branches.”