In The Pursuit of Justice and Equality

In The Pursuit of Justice and Equality

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Over the past year, some of our country’s biggest banks (Wells Fargo, JPMorgan and BofA) have pledged millions to Black-owned banks (or MDIs) and racial justice initiatives, but those did not necessarily focus on Asians or Pacific Islanders... until recent events. (For information on Black and Hispanic MDIs, please refer to JRN 38:14.)

While the Big Banks have now jumped on board, Asian MDIs have long been on the battlefield against xenophobia. Their efforts are now being expanded. For example, on March 22nd, in the wake of the Atlanta shootings, 5-Star Cathay Bank of Los Angeles announced it will donate $1 million to support organizations that promote diversity and combat against anti-Asian or Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate crimes.

This donation is a lot for a $19 billion bank and is in addition to other long-time support it has given to such organizations.

Similarly, 5-Star East West Bank, Pasadena, CA, through its East West Foundation, has been tracking and responding to all forms of hate (whether it be violence, harassment, discrimination or child bullying). It also supports a number of efforts to support inclusion, financial and other, to all minorities and women in all of the communities it serves.

One that really hits home (so to speak) is its Affordable Housing initiative. In its ongoing effort to build bridges between cultures, East West Bank provides credit to High Opportunity Neighborhood Partners (HONP).

Since 2019, HONP has provided high-quality, single family homes to people who otherwise would be unable to attain it, those with Housing Plan or Plan 8 vouchers. HONP can purchase 5-10 homes per week with the help of East West Bank. It currently operates in Texas and Minneapolis but already has its sights on Charlotte, Atlanta, South Florida and the Midwest.

Single mothers, regardless of race, and their children, have been the primary beneficiaries. They have also proven to be model citizens. They just needed a helping hand.

East West Bank itself had a humble beginning. Established in 1973 primarily to serve the Chinese population of Los Angeles, East West Bank has grown to be the largest Asian MDI in the nation, with $52.2 billion in assets. Its 112 branches span the country from Georgia to Washington, and points in between.

As of the last U.S. Census, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders constitute only about 6% of the U.S. population. However, they control more than half of the nation’s MDIs, and quite well. Most of these banks have strong ratings. With very few exceptions, they are well run banks formed with the intent to help Asian-American and Pacific Islanders. Along the way, they have become the last line of hope for many under-served Americans.

All AAPI designated U.S. MDIs are listed in this week’s issue of JRN along with financial highlights as of December 31, 2020.

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