$3.2 million will help various organizations address critical community needs


Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) will deliver more than $3.2 million in grants to address a range of critical community needs across Charlotte, including advancing economic mobility, improving racial equity, supporting minority-owned small businesses and advancing entrepreneurship for the next generation of business leaders.


Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf announced the grants earlier today at a special event held in Biddle Hall and Auditorium on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). Johnson C. Smith University and United Way of Central Carolinas will each receive grants for $1 million, while Central Piedmont Community College’s Small Business Resource Center will receive an Open For Business grant from Wells Fargo for $625,000. Other organizations receiving grants include Aspire Community Capital, Charlotte is Creative, City Start-Up Labs, the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, Prospera, and the Women’s Business Center.


“While we are seeing signs of economic improvement, we also realize that not all of our communities are benefiting equally in this recovery,” said Scharf. “That is why Wells Fargo is being intentional about supporting a more inclusive economic recovery, with a focus on racial and social equity, economic mobility and investments in low and moderate income communities. We are pleased to announce these grants for the Charlotte area and will continue to focus on ways we can support positive change.”


The announcements coincide with and help celebrate the return of the Wells Fargo Championship to Charlotte. The PGA TOUR event, which was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, has raised more than $24 million for charitable organizations since 2003. The Wells Fargo Championship provides significant economic impact to the Charlotte-area economy – estimated at more than $50 million annually.


“I am a witness daily to the transformation that occurs in students who have the opportunity to complete their education at JCSU,” said Johnson C. Smith University President Clarence D. Armbrister. “Conversely, it is heartbreaking when access to higher education is denied to students who have the academic ability and desire, but lack the financial means to pursue a college degree. Gifts like this will change that dynamic and improve the economic mobility of those students and align with our strategic plan, which focuses on strengthening academic partnerships and enhancing student success. Funding from Wells Fargo will provide additional resources for students majoring in business to ensure they are prepared to excel in the workplace and for students with aspirations to be entrepreneurs.”


Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) is located on the historic Beatties Ford Road Corridor, which has been identified by Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and other leaders as a “Corridor of Opportunity.” Michelle Lee, Consumer Banking Executive for Wells Fargo, currently serves on JCSU’s Board of Trustees, and Mary Mack, Consumer and Small Business Banking CEO at Wells Fargo, is a former trustee. Kendall Alley, Executive Vice President for Wells Fargo in Charlotte, led JCSU’s most recent capital campaign, which raised more than $159 million.


“Given the challenges our country and our Historically Black Colleges and Universities continue to face, it is crucial that we support Johnson C. Smith University and institutions like it that are focused on advancing minority communities and diverse small businesses,” said Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12), who co-chairs the Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus. “I applaud Wells Fargo for being a strong partner with our HBCU community. Their work with these institutions helps ensure we all have a brighter future.”


Wells Fargo recently announced equity investments in 11 African American Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) as part of its March 10, 2020, pledge to invest up to $50 million in Black-owned banks. The investments are part of Wells Fargo’s commitment to supporting economic growth in African American communities where MDIs, often community based banks, provide mortgage credit, small business lending, and other banking services. Self Help Credit Union and M&F Bank, two of the MDIs that are receiving funding from Wells Fargo, have branches on Beatties Ford Road.


Making an impact in Charlotte and North Carolina


Wells Fargo has been a longstanding community supporter in Charlotte and across North Carolina. Over the last 10 years, Wells Fargo and the Wells Fargo Foundation have provided nonprofit organizations in North Carolina with more than $190 million in grants. The $3.2 million in grants announced today will support key organizations in their efforts to address critical community needs across Charlotte, including:


  • Johnson Smith University: Funding will focus on minority student scholarships, experiential learning supporting entrepreneurship and small business ownership, student financial health education and credit score development.


  • United Way of Central Carolinas: The grant from the Wells Fargo Community Impact Fund will support economic mobility for low income neighborhoods and advancing racial equity via Unite Charlotte.


  • Central Piedmont Community College – Small Business Resource Center: The grant from Wells Fargo’s Open For Business (OFB) fund will be focused on supporting underrepresented small business owners in the Charlotte region. OFB is a roughly $420 million small business recovery effort Wells Fargo created by donating all of the gross processing fees received from participating in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in 2020. The OFB Fund provides grants to nonprofits serving small businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly racially and ethnically diverse and women-owned small businesses.


  • Aspire Community Capital: The grant will support entrepreneurs from low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities in Charlotte.


  • Charlotte is Creative: The grant will impact creatives as entrepreneurs by supporting them with funding, mentorship, business skills training and social capital connections.


  • City Start-Up Labs: The grant will focus on helping bridge the entrepreneurial divide where under-represented populations of African American millennials and returning citizens (previously incarcerated) are not adequately and proportionally able to participate in startup activity and business building.


  • Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte: The grant will help fund a business and entrepreneurship hub supporting Hispanic/Latino entrepreneurs and business owners in Charlotte.


  • Prospera: The funds will provide bilingual (English/Spanish) assistance to Hispanic small business owners and entrepreneurs in Charlotte.


  • Women’s Business Center: The funds will help women-owned businesses in Charlotte start and grow.