Not since the Civil Rights era have we seen such demand for racial and economic justice. It’s a moment in history that was made for Woodstock Institute.
In the 1970s, the impact of racial segregation and lack of access to opportunity was impossible to ignore. Woodstock’s founders met their moment by helping to build a movement that won the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 and Community Reinvestment Act of 1977.
Today, we again find ourselves waging battles to address the infrastructure of racism. To meet our moment we must do what is needed, not what is palatable. We need the courage and tenacity to fight for disadvantaged communities with the same tools and tactics as those who see expanding opportunity for all as a zero-sum game that must mean less for themselves.
Each President and CEO of Woodstock has had the experience and background that their moment required. I’m grateful to my predecessors Jean Pogge, Dory Rand and prior CEOs for creating an institution with the knowhow and agility to analyze economic trends and be heard by those with power to influence change – whether as “insiders” or “outsiders.”
Since I joined Woodstock in August 2020, we have found ourselves helping push forward new landmark legislation and policies such as the Predatory Loan Prevention Act, the Illinois Community Reinvestment Act and a modern responsible banking ordinance for the country’s third-largest city.
Coming from a career in capital markets, banking, and at the Fed and Aspen Institute, I never thought of myself as an advocate. But as I found myself explaining to my 10- and 8-year-old boys why that police officer had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for so long, why there needs to be a Black Lives Matter movement, and what we’re going to do about it... when the opportunity to lead Woodstock came, there didn’t seem to be any other option than to say “yes.”
With a small yet mighty team, and with your support as friends, partners and investors in our mission, I am confident that Woodstock will continue empowering community advocacy through research and data, shining a light on the disparities created by our financial systems, and tenaciously fighting for policies that permanently alter the course of racism.
President & CEO
We tabulated where older residents face greatest risk from unscrupulous lenders, based on four factors including greater numbers of older adults, poverty level, broadband Internet access, and absence of nearby bank branches.
We found that Illinois Census tracts whose residents are 60% or more Black, Latino or other people of color contained 18.8% of business addresses but received only 15.2% of bank loans under $100,000.
Woodstock Institute supported the work of New America Chicago, The Chicago Community Trust and others to scrutinize and disseminate information on how to access benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on helping people avoid scammers and find alternatives to predatory loans.
Our analysis of Chicago’s HomeMod Program showed the government saves money on services when it invests in modifications like ramps and accessible bathrooms to allow people with disabilities to remain in their homes. The government will save more than the cost of modifications for all program participants if just 1% of participants remain in their homes, we found. This research was under contract from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Community leaders, advocates and officials rely on the Community Lending Fact Book and other website content to understand what’s happening in Chicago and suburban community areas.
Under this 2019 legislation, the Illinois State Treasurer will create 529 college savings accounts to kickstart families’ savings. With about 160,000 newborns and children adopted each year, experts say the program will have the largest annual cohort of Children’s Savings Accounts participants in the nation. Woodstock and partners including Financial Inclusion for All Illinois, Shriver Center on Poverty Law and others advocated for the policy for more than a decade.
Our 2017 report The Debt Spiral: How Chicago’s Vehicle Ticketing Practices Unfairly Burden Low-Income and Minority Communities helped uncover inequities in the City of Chicago’s fines and fees. Journalism from Pro Publica’s Melissa Sanchez and WBEZ and advocacy by organizations such as Chicago Jobs Council led to the reform’s inclusion in the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ Agenda to Rid Illinois of Systemic Racism.
Governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB 1792, the Predatory Loan Prevention Act (PLPA), in March, making Illinois the 18th state in the country to cap annual percentage rates on payday loans, a longtime goal of literally hundreds of institutions, faith leaders, grassroots and national advocates, industry organizations and others. The PLPA, by setting a 36% cap on all types of personal loans, is now the gold standard for the nation.
Our research found the PLPA will save consumers more than $475 million from reduced loan fees. Illinois will see a net gain of jobs to offset any losses due to closed businesses that formerly offered predatory payday, installment loans, and auto title loans.
The new Illinois CRA law establishes community reinvestment obligations for state-chartered banks, state-chartered credit unions and licensed non-bank mortgage companies. Illinois is the second state (with Massachusetts) to regulate all three primary types of mortgage lenders.
If we want to change the map of segregation, poverty, and disadvantage in Chicago, in Illinois or throughout the country, we need to tackle the issues that will make a difference irrespective of whether it may make people uncomfortable.
We had the pleasure to honor John Bouman, outgoing president of the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, for his groundbreaking advocacy for economic and social justice both in Illinois and across the country. We also honored Woods Fund of Chicago for its leadership in advancing racial equity and economic justice through support of grassroots organizing and public policy advocacy, and through the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Greater Chicago initiative. Caronina Grimble accepted the award on behalf of Woods Fund.
Woodstock Institute relaunched its Economic Justice Awards in June 2021: the theme “Change the Map” recognized the entrenched segregation, racism, and unequal access to opportunity that continue to divide Chicago.
We honored State Senator Jacqueline Collins with a Lifetime Achievement Award and business owner and advocate Kesha Thompson Warren (pictured above with her family), for leadership in advocating for the Predatory Loan Prevention Act.
Head of Advancing Black Pathways, JPMorgan Chase
Housing & Financial Education Consultant
The John Marshall Law School
First Vice President, CRA Officer, Marquette Bank
Citi Community Development
SVP & Executive Director, Global Policy Affairs & Community Relations, MasterCard
President, Calvin Bradford & Associates, Ltd.
Segment Lead – Minority and Women Owned Businesses, U.S. Bank
Director of Public Policy, Lending Club
Thomas FitzGibbon, Jr.
Director, Evergreen Bank Group
SVP, Community Development Program Director, Huntington National Bank
Principal Consultant, JCH Research
Managing Director, Common Future
Juan Carlos Linares
President and CEO, Association House of Chicago
President & CEO, Woodstock Institute
President, Core Business Solutions, IFF
President & CEO,
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Organizations listed for identification purposes only.
President and CEO
Senior Vice President of Policy and Communication
Director of Research
Policy and Communication Associate
Director of Development
DIrector of Office Morale
At Woodstock Institute, we’re working to create an economy where everyone has access to the financial services and resources they need to prosper.
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