The Greenlining Coalition and partners secure more than $100 billion in community benefits from financial institutions

You heard that right. Billions with a b. In 2021, The Greenlining Coalition and our partners at the California Reinvestment Coalition and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition negotiated over $100 billion in community benefits with financial institutions directing critical resources to formerly redlined communities. 

Earlier this fall, the Greenlining Institute and the California Reinvestment Coalition announced a $1.4 billion, five-year community benefits agreement with Banc of California that will increase financial resources available to low- and moderate-income people and communities throughout California. 

CRC and The Greenlining Coalition held Banc of California accountable for loaning millions and extending credit to problematic landlords in L.A. -- exacerbating an already dire housing crisis. Coalition members urged federal regulators to deny Banc of California approval to proceed with a proposed merger unless the bank put pressure on their borrowers to be more equitable and responsible landlords and provide better services to low- and moderate-income communities. 

As a result of the pressure to do better, Banc of California agreed to a five-year, more than $1.4 billion community benefits package that includes investments in economic development, a $200 million affordable housing commitment, and a significant increase in the bank’s contributions to LMI-serving organizations, including groups providing homeownership and small business counseling.

The Greenlining Institute has a decades-long history of successfully negotiating community benefits agreements with financial institutions who must comply with the Community Reinvestment Act — a 1970s-era federal anti-redlining law that regulators must consider before approving a bank expansion.

Before the pandemic and racial equity crises, there was a strong case for banks to make consolidation moves, and this case has grown stronger during this early rebound from COVID-19. U.S. bank merger and acquisition activity jumped in late September as four huge deals were announced, setting a new record in 2021.

Photo of The Greenlining Institute's Founder Ortensia Lopez

"It is important for different communities to work together. We shouldn't be fighting each other for a slice of the pie. We can come together and make the pie bigger for everyone."

-Ortensia Lopez, Co-Founder of The Greenlining Institute

In January, Silicon Valley Bank announced a major $11 billion community benefits plan negotiated by The Greenlining Institute and CRC to invest in low-income communities across California in affordable housing, community development, and small business lending. Later, in partnership with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and CRC, we successfully secured one of the largest community investment plans in recent history with PNC Bank. PNC Bank is committing to a four-year, $88 billion Community Benefits Plan that aims to expand economic opportunities for communities of color and low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. 

That brings the total in secured community benefits to over $100 billion in 2021 alone.  

The Greenlining Institute is building on a 30 year track record of success to create a better, more just future for everyone. We envision a future where communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change. 

 In order to realize this vision, the financial industry must be held accountable and responsible to all of America’s communities. Some of Greenlining’s most important work is based on the Community Reinvestment Act, passed in 1977 and barely updated since then. The CRA requires traditional financial institutions to demonstrate to regulators that their lending, investments, and services adequately serve the communities in which they have market presence. Notably, the growing number of non-bank lenders like financial technology (fintechs) and credit unions are exempt from the CRA’s requirements. 

This law has made it possible for Greenlining and our partners to negotiate community benefits agreements with leading financial institutions, bringing $700 billion in investments to low-income, historically redlined communities. 

Our work over the last three decades has shown us that equity will not just “happen.” It will be created with intentional, decisive, immediate action. That’s why we are so invested in confronting systemic racism at its root and building enduring, transformative new solutions. 

Debra Gore-Mann is President and CEO of The Greenlining Institute. Follow her on LinkedIn.