Being selected for this award also serves to inform and inspire other financial institutions and communities to enhance their commitments to DEI work in their communities.
FHLBank received nominations covering a range of DEI initiatives that member financial institutions throughout its three-state district have developed or supported. “It was difficult to select a winner from among such dynamic programs and initiatives,” said Katey Malesic, FHLBank’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. “BCT’s collaborative Banking On Diversity program, which provides early-stage, interest-free capital to both start-up and existing micro-businesses stood out as having unique community impact.”
In 2020, BCT leaders, including their employees and board, leveraged their collective observations following the civil unrest ignited by the murder of George Floyd. Together, they put into motion programs that would prioritize financial education and access to capital for historically underrepresented communities, which became the Banking On Diversity program.
“There are structural challenges that our minority communities face every day, and we recognize we must work with our community to do more,” said Alice P. Frazier, President and Chief Executive Officer of BCT-Bank of Charles Town. “We are honored for the Banking On Diversity program to be recognized among so many other programs as financial institutions work to advance equitable solutions.”
Along with two other neighboring community banks, Bank of Clarke County and First Bank, the innovative Banking On Diversity, Minority Business Loan Fund was created. The three banks, including BCT, collectively funded $1 million in interest-free loans set-aside for minority-owned start-ups or businesses with revenues less than $1 million.
In addition to presenting BCT with the FHLBank DEI Membership Award, event attendees had the opportunity to participate in a small business celebration in Harpers Ferry at Rations Spaceport. The facility, an indoor, family-friendly, entertainment center, received funding from BCT’s Banking On Diversity program. The event highlighted the strong relationship between the founders of Rations Spaceport and its local community bank, BCT.
During the event and facility tour, guests learned of the inspiration behind the development of Rations Spaceport – the founders’ twin sons, Dedrik and Tre. The boys have autism, sensory integration issues, and Leukoencephalopathy, a fetal-development brain trauma injury, among other diagnoses. Founders Sarah Shafer and Daniel Jimeno, retired veterans, developed the business with their sons in mind, hoping to have the boys learn the business while offering something new and exciting to the Harpers Ferry community.
The Banking On Diversity program, which debuted during Black History Month in February 2022, is now available to minority-owned businesses in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia; Frederick and Washington Counties in Maryland; and Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Clarke, Loudoun, Prince William, Shenandoah, and Winchester Counties in Virginia.
“I am so proud of our members like Bank of Charles Town, who are doing transformative DEI work in their communities,” said David Paulson, Chief Operating Officer of FHLBank. “This 2022 award is not just recognition of tremendous work completed, but also the promise of what this type of thoughtful, strategic DEI work can do for so many.”