Fisk University To Launch Center For Financial Advancement 

Nashville, Tenn., September 11, 2017 – Fisk University has announced the launch of The Center for Financial Advancement, a center committed to providing financial education to students, staff, and members of the Nashville community. As part of its mission, the Center for Financial Advancement seeks to provide education in the areas of money management, credit management, and homeownership while also providing education and career preparatory opportunities to position participants for careers in the mortgage industry.

A kick-off event will be held on Friday, September 29 from 1:00 pm-3:00 pm in the Appleton Room of Jubilee Hall on the campus of Fisk University.

The Center for Financial Advancement is a collaboration between Fisk University, Wells Fargo, Mortgage Bankers Association, Bank of America, and HomeFree-USA, a HUD-approved non-profit organization that specializes in homeownership development, foreclosure intervention, and financial coaching.

At a glance, the Center for Financial Advancement will provide:

  • An annual series of five seminars conducted jointly by HomeFree-USA, and mortgage banking leaders.
  • The curriculum will include banking and savings basics, mortgage lending, student loan debt, homeownership, credit reports, overall financial capability, and most importantly, enriching information about mortgage industry opportunities.
  • Students who complete the entire series of seminars will receive a Certificate of Financial Readiness signed by the leading sponsors.

“The benefits in this partnership are two-fold,” said David H. Stevens, President/CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. “African-American students will develop important money management and financial literacy skills, while also having the opportunity to explore a career in the real estate and financial field. Also, the industry will benefit from an influx of better educated potential homeowners, in addition to an influx of diverse new talent into the industry who can bring homeownership opportunities in traditionally underserved communities.”

As part of the Center for Financial Advancement agreement, Wells Fargo, Mortgage Bankers Association, Bank of America, and HomeFree-USA will have access to a pool of interns and potential permanent hires and receive CRA credit.

“We are proud to be part of this effort to prepare more African Americans for successful careers in the mortgage industry while also promoting financial literacy that can lead to an increase in African American homeownership,” said Brad Blackwell, executive vice president; Housing Policy and Homeownership Growth Strategies, Wells Fargo, the founding supporter of the Center for Financial Advancement. “Wells Fargo recognizes the important role a diverse workforce plays in making homeownership possible for people in all communities.”

Fisk University will be the first campus in the country to house this new initiative. Plans are underway to establish a Center for Financial Advancement on other historically black college and university campuses.

“There is desire in the African-American community to move up and to uplift ourselves. We just need a little bit of guidance, some direction and just a bit of advice,” said HomeFree-USA President/CEO Marcia Griffin, a Fisk alumna and founder of the new program. “The reality is this: Money is made off the backs of those who don’t know. The less we know, the more somebody’s going to make off of us. The less we know, the more opportunity there is for rip off. I’m here to show the mortgage, real estate, and finance industries what we can do – not just HomeFree-USA, but what HBCUs can produce.”

Griffin believes the training of the next generation of mortgage financiers by HBCUs could be pivotal. The need to expand diversity and inclusion in the mortgage industry will be crucial as the face of the typical homebuyer is changing and as the population of America becomes increasingly diverse. “We are in the real estate and financial services business so we will continue to offer services and education for families in seeking to purchase a home, keeping a home, credit enhancement or anything financial. That is our mission at HomeFree-USA.”

The more than 700 students from all majors on the 40-acre campus will have the opportunity to use the center. The center will also be open to staff, alumni, and members of the community.

“It’s important that we seek opportunities to educate our students, staff, and members of the community about non-traditional, highly lucrative fields where minorities continue to be underrepresented,” said Kevin Rome, Sr., Ph.D., president of Fisk University. “As consumers who engage in the banking and mortgage industry, minorities should equally benefit from the wealth that is created by the industries. This partnership will hopefully lead to a model that funnels more minorities into careers that benefit our community and the American economic engine.”