Iowa’s first black-owned bank is making change

By: Hailey Allen, published in Business Record website, Mar 10, 2023

For the last two years, ReShonda Young has been in the process of opening the first Black-owned bank in Iowa. Young had opened her own businesses before — she founded and franchised the successful gourmet popcorn chain Popcorn Heaven in 2014 and ran her biological father’s business for nine years — but starting a bank from scratch takes time.

There is a lot of work to be done, a lot of capital to raise and a lot of “hands-on education. I’ve had to sit down with federal and state regulators, the attorneys. All the things, all the people,” Young said.

Although Young said she had never worked in a bank before, she’s “learned so much through this process,” she said, adding that she now knows banking “better than some bankers,” thanks to those who came onto the project to help.

The Bank of Jabez is well on its way to becoming a certified Community Development Financial Institution “that will promote economic growth in the underserved communities.”

“Although we will be a full-service financial services institution that addresses the banking needs of all people within the community, we will have intentional focus on servicing our community’s underbanked, low-income, and minority populations,” the organization’s website says.

Inequity abounds

The idea to open a bank came to her after a series of bad experiences at other financial institutions, which she said were likely due to racism. Read more on the Business Record website

UNI and 24/7 BLAC win top national entrepreneurship education award

COURIER STAFF, Feb 19, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The 24/7 BLAC Black Business Entrepreneurial Accelerator and its collaboration with the University of Northern Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center won the Model Community Accelerator/Incubator Award at the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship annual conference Jan. 21.

Hosted by Florida State University, the USASBE 2023: Driven by Dreams annual conference recognized bold and innovative programs impacting entrepreneurship education. The Model Community Accelerator/Incubator Awards was a new award category in 2023, recognizing community programs that help entrepreneurs develop their ideas into viable and scalable businesses.

The 24/7 Black Leadership Advancement Consortium’s BBEA entrepreneurial program is one of the organization’s flagship programs created in response to a 24/7 Wall Street Report that highlighted race disparities in Waterloo and Cedar Falls Iowa. The UNI JPEC supports 24/7 BLAC’s commitment to focusing specifically on Black entrepreneurs’ needs in the Cedar Valley and beyond.

“The 24/7 BLAC Black Business Entrepreneurship Accelerator program works because the 14-week program is designed to support the specific needs and problems Black entrepreneurs face. The program continues to support the entrepreneurs beyond their completion of the program with continued one-on-one support,” said ReShonda Young, BBEA program director.

USASBE judges also recognized the program’s pioneering focus on peer mentorship, where Black entrepreneurs support other Black entrepreneurs. The core curriculum of the accelerator focuses on traditional business practices but also addresses the distinct challenges faced by Black entrepreneurs, including social, economic, and systemic issues.

“In the past three years, the entrepreneurs enrolled in BBEA have been beating the statistical odds, even during COVID, to grow revenues as well as profits—some with double and triple digits. But it’s also important to reflect on the secondary economic impact that we all benefit from when our community’s Black entrepreneurs’ succeed,” said Lindi Roelofse, T. Wayne Davis Chair in Entrepreneurship at UNI, who serves on the BBEA Strategic Steering Task Force.

UNI has been named a finalist for one of the USABE awards for three years in a row for its innovative entrepreneurial curriculum.

The Worst Cities For Black Americans

Waterloo-Cedar Falls, first place in the country:

24/7 Wall Street Report (2018)

Waterloo-Cedar Falls, sixth place in the country:

24/7 Wall Street Report (2021)

Waterloo-Cedar Falls, 11th place in the country:

24/7 Wall Street Report (2023)

For black Americans moviang to a new city, 

these are some of the worst places to settle 

For black Americans moving to a new city, these are some of the worst places to settle:

Waterloo-Cedar Falls, third worst place:

Read more on USA Today website