The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and First Financial Bank are starting a year-long collaboration to increase financial literacy and address implicit bias, with programming to launch in April. By combining First Financial Bank’s sponsorship support and expertise in financial education with the Freedom Center’s approach to combating implicit bias and history expertise, the two organizations hope to address wealth disparity through financial literacy.
Implicit bias training will be available as part of the Freedom Center experience and as paid training. First Financial Bank will offer the training to its associates as part of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program. Implicit biases – the attitudes and stereotypes that unconsciously affect our thinking, actions, and decisions – can have implications in business, education and everyday life, hampering the development of inclusive companies, schools and communities.
“Financial literacy is a critical component to addressing the wealth disparity in this country,” said Woody Keown Jr., president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “By simultaneously increasing financial literacy and combating implicit bias and systemic racism that further widens that gap, we can take real steps to close the wealth gap in this country. The support of First Financial Bank will give us the needed resources to begin to address that divide in our community.”
The Freedom Center will join in the expansion of First Financial Bank’s financial education programs, which help individuals achieve financial stability and reach their personal financial goals. The joint initiative will include a financial literacy training series that will be offered as in-person and virtual classes, and as self-serve tools. First Financial Bank’s strategic intent is to be woven into the communities it serves.
“We are excited to participate in this sponsorship of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,” said Archie Brown, president and chief executive officer of First Financial Bank. “Promoting greater financial literacy has been an important part of the support we offer to our communities. I’m confident that the collective strengths of our two organizations will deliver positive learning opportunities today and for years to come.”
Financial education plays an important role in adult success, both personally and professionally, but few schools include it in their curriculum. That leaves this role to parents, which has created an advantage for those already educated in financial matters who can pass this knowledge along to the next generation, thus perpetuating the gap.
Freedom Center and First Financial Bank goals are to provide equal access to financial education. Among the proposed topics for the future programming are the importance of access to credit, how getting a loan or how credit works, the best ways to save money, how to establish a budget and the basics of managing money. The Freedom Center will also include historical context in the training, since they view it is important to understand the current wealth disparity in the United States.