The Greenlining Institute Mourns the Passing of Co-Founder Bob Gnaizda

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – It is with profound sadness that The Greenlining Institute announces that Robert (Bob) Gnaizda, one of the organization’s co-founders and a ferocious advocate for racial and economic justice, passed away on Saturday. On behalf of our Board of Directors, employees, and coalition partners we extend our deepest sympathies to Bob’s family during this difficult time.

“Since the mid-1970’s Bob was a tireless leader who created community around a simple, shared and powerful vision,” said Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. “To bring together grassroots community leaders from the African American, Asian American, Latino and disabled communities to both fight institutionalized discrimination and redlining and to proactively bring investments and opportunity into these communities. Bob was fearless. He and John Gamboa forced big banks and other institutions to listen, and brought billions of dollars in investment into communities that had been redlined.”

“Before racial and economic justice was a popular hashtag, Bob was bold enough to say what others wouldn’t and brave enough to do what most wouldn’t,” said Greenlining Board Co-Chair Tunua Thrash-Ntuk. “He wielded a pen and paper that was guided by his vast and unrivaled knowledge of our national economic and banking system. Coupled by his love of people, Bob never shrank in the face of the racial justice fight against outsized circumstance — be it a financially endowed CEO, a Federal Reserve Chairman or a powerful member of Congress or the Cabinet. His uncanny knack for strategy yielded Greenlining and the communities it serves countless wins that bent the arc of justice toward righteousness.”

A community luminary and longtime civil rights advocate, Gnaizda was one of the key leaders who put together the multi-ethnic racial and economic justice coalition that eventually became The Greenlining Institute in 1993. At first, he and fellow co-founder John Gamboa were the organization’s sole staff members, formulating a strategy that used the Community Reinvestment Act to push banks to lend and invest in long-redlined communities of color. His warnings about the growth of predatory lending in the early 2000s led to him being interviewed in the award-winning documentary about the 2008 crash, “Inside Job.”

“Bob is one of the most underappreciated civil rights leaders of our time because he never cared about being honored or celebrated, he cared about the work,” John Gamboa said.

“Bob Gnaizda was a social justice creative genius,” said Orson Aguilar, who led Greenlining after Gnaizda and Gamboa retired. “He mixed his vast legal skills with a creative organizing approach that often mixed baseball statistics with current and historic events. He always sought to uplift leaders of color and never backed away from talking about race. Nobody has worked harder than Bob to build a long-lasting, multi-ethnic coalition. Bob had an enormous spirit that will leave a long-lasting impact on all of us who were fortunate to have worked alongside him in our march towards social and racial justice.”

“Bob was a brilliant lawyer, advocate and comrade for social and economic equity for, with and in our communities,” said Ortensia Lopez, another co-founder and longtime Greenlining Institute board member. “Bob was always ahead of his times and always had great insights and strategies to address our issues. I am honored, privileged and thankful to have worked with him on so many issues.”

A private funeral for Robert Gnaizda will take place in Petaluma on Saturday, July 18, 2020. Plans for a public online memorial are being developed and will be announced later.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Greenlining Applauds Small Business Relief in California Budget

Assistance Marks “Ray of Sunshine in a Rough Year”

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The new state budget about to be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom provides important relief for hard-hit small businesses, The Greenlining Institute said today. The help will be especially important for entrepreneurs who are people of color or women.

The budget includes $100 million to support the California Industrial Bank’s loan guarantee program that provides financial assistance to small businesses. It also expands of the first-year exemption from the $800 Minimum Franchise Tax normally required of LLCs, a provision which sunsets in three years. The LLC fee waiver will boost small business creation by low and moderate-income entrepreneurs, who tend to be disproportionately people of color and women, by giving them the same ability as wealthy entrepreneurs to protect their personal assets in case their business fails.

“These provisions represent some small rays of sunshine in a really tough budget year,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Adam Briones. “As our state faces one of the worst economic crises we have seen in a decade due to COVID-19, and the racial wealth gap only continues to grow, it’s more important than ever that small businesses owned by low-income people of color have all the help they can get in both building new assets and protecting what they have. Ultimately, this means more jobs and prosperity in communities dealing with unprecedented economic challenges.

“We want to thank Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula, who is a continual champion for California’s vulnerable, diverse small businesses, for his important leadership on these issues.”

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Greenlining Institute Hails Wells Fargo Move to Link Executive Pay, Diversity Progress

Urges Other Banks to Follow Suit

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute praised this week’s announcement  by Wells Fargo that it will take a series of concrete steps to boost diversity at decision-making levels, including tying executive pay to progress on diversity goals and creating a new diversity and inclusion position that will report directly to the CEO. The specific goals announced include doubling the percentage of Black leaders in senior management, currently reported to be six percent.

“This is what real leadership looks like, and other banks and large corporations need to follow suit,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Adam Briones. “Over the years we’ve heard lots of positive rhetoric about diversity and inclusion, but experience shows that the only way to make real progress is through specific goals and an implementation process that has teeth. This should be a model for all banks and other corporations.”

Over the years, Greenlining’s research has found that while many banks have considerable diversity among relatively low-level employees, that diversity declines sharply at the senior management and board levels, where key decisions are made.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Vigil to Honor Black Victims of Police Violence Tuesday in Downtown Oakland

Brown Folx for Black Lives & The Greenlining Institute to Hold Remembrance in Front of Greenlining 360 Center

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – On June 9, on the day George Floyd is laid to rest in Houston, Brown Folx for Black Lives will join with The Greenlining Institute to hold a vigil to honor victims of police violence. The event will begin at 3 p.m. in front of Greenlining’s downtown Oakland headquarters. All who wish to honor a loved one lost to police violence are invited to join and to bring a memorial poster, flower, memento or photo to place on the community altar.

WHAT: Vigil to honor Black lives lost to police violence.

WHO: Speakers are still being finalized, but will include a variety of community voices joined by Olga Talamante, Executive Director Emeritus of the Chicana Latina Foundation, and Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann.

WHERE: The Greenlining 360 Center, 360 14th Street, Oakland.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 9, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

SAFETY NOTE: In order to maintain safety, face masks and hand sanitizer will be available and social distancing is strongly encouraged.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

New Report Looks at Life on the Wrong Side of the Digital Divide in the COVID-19 Era

Latino and Low-Income Households Especially Likely to Lack Home Broadband 

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director,  415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing school and work online for millions, The Greenlining Institute has released a new report focused on first-hand accounts of life without home internet access. On the Wrong Side of the Digital Divide, largely based on interviews with residents of Fresno and Oakland, also includes key data about California’s digital divide and recommendations for actions the state can take to quickly expand internet access.

Latino households, the report notes, are only about one third as likely to have home internet access as White households, while Black households also lag well behind. California’s wealthiest households are 16 times more likely to have access to home internet than the poorest ones.

“More than one fifth of California households either have no internet connection or can connect only through a smartphone – which is just not adequate for many school assignments or job applications,” said report co-author Vinhcent Le, Greenlining’s Technology Equity Legal Counsel. “Latinos and low-income families are especially likely to be on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

The report introduces people in a variety of circumstances struggling with internet access. Pitch, a 16-year-old Asian American student in Fresno, is learning web design and has struggled to complete assignments on her phone, while the cost of internet service has been a burden on her family. Miss A, an older, Black Oakland resident taking a nonprofit management class, had to use local libraries to get online – an option that’s now been closed off by the pandemic, forcing her to drop the class.

“COVID-19 has turned a serious problem into an emergency,” said report co-author Gissela Moya, Greenlining’s Manny Garcia Technology Equity Fellow. “California needs to act quickly to ensure internet access for all.”

To arrange an interview with the authors (in English or Spanish), contact Bruce Mirken at (415)846-7758 or brucem@greenlining.org.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

THIS THURSDAY: Virtual Summit Tackles Racial Equity in the Age of COVID-19

Online Summit Features Ibram X. Kendi, Lateefah Simon, Rob Bonta, john a. powell, Chesa Boudin, Rhiana Gunn Wright, Isha Clarke and More

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director,  415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – As it becomes steadily more apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately impacting Americans of color, The Greenlining Institute’s annual Economic Summit – retooled as an online event available nationwide – brings together an extraordinary list of speakers to examine both the huge challenges posed by the pandemic as well as paths toward a fairer, more inclusive future. The day’s program of speakers, fireside chats and panels will include leading thinkers like How to Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi,  Black Futures Lab founder Alicia Garza and author and professor john. a. powell.

The multifaceted program also includes Oakland high school student and climate activist Isha Clarke in a panel on youth activism in a time of crisis. Other speakers include nonprofit leaders and elected officials leading the fight for equity, such as Obama Foundation Chief Engagement Officer Michael Strautmanis, AAPI Civic Engagement Fund Director EunSook Lee, Latino Community Foundation CEO Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin,  considered one of the nation’s leading criminal justice reformers, California Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Lateefah Simon, president of the Akonadi Foundation and member of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors.

The Summit theme, We the Future, expresses the drive for a nation where all communities can participate in the creation of healthy, thriving, resilient lives. Speakers and discussions will look at a variety of angles, including:

  • Organizing and power-building in the face of increasing racism and threats to the undocumented, incarcerated people and others;
  • Youth activism in a time of upheaval;
  • The impact of government COVID-19 recovery programs on communities of color; the intersection of health and racial equity in the age of COVID-19;
  • How to build an antiracist society; and
  • The intersection of health, the climate crisis and the pandemic as we work to build a more resilient and inclusive nation.

WHAT: Greenlining’s 27th Annual Economic Summit: We the Future, a Virtual Summit on Racial Equity.

WHO: Speakers include:

Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist and founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University
Alicia Garza, Founder, Black Futures Lab
Michael Strautmanis, Chief Engagement Officer, The Obama Foundation
Chesa Boudin, District Attorney, San Francisco
EunSook Lee, Director, AAPI Civic Engagement Fund
john a. powell, Director, Othering and Belonging Institute, University of California, Berkeley
Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO, Latino Community Foundation
Rhiana Gunn Wright, Director of Climate Policy, The Roosevelt Institute
Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), California State Assembly
Isha Clarke, youth climate activist with Youth v. Apocalypse

WHEN: Thursday, May 21, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

HOW TO ATTEND: Purchase tickets online and get all the details via our Economic Summit web page.

For News Media: Media are invited to attend without charge. For a complimentary pass, email brucem@greenlining.org

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

California Budget Must Protect Underserved Communities, Greenlining Institute Says

Newsom’s May Revise Puts Important Programs at Risk

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – With California’s communities of color and low- and moderate-income communities facing unprecedented health and economic threats from COVID-19, The Greenlining Institute responded to the governor’s May budget revise with a call to protect these under-resourced communities.

The governor’s proposal, which represents the starting point for negotiations and could change drastically depending on whether Congress approves aid to states, endangers several programs that could help underserved communities weather the current crisis.

“As they work to finalize a tough budget, legislators and the governor must remember that communities of color and essential workers are being hit hardest by COVID-19,” said Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. “Programs that protect health, build community resilience and help spur a just recovery will get the most from every dollar while providing relief to those with the greatest needs.”

Examples of programs that can bring such multiple benefits but which may now be in danger include climate change efforts like low-income weatherization, urban forestry, urban greening and Transformative Climate Communities – which integrates multiple projects in community-led efforts to fight climate change and strengthen the economies of underserved communities. These programs have shown that they combine environmental, health and economic benefits for communities most in need, Greenlining’s policy staff noted, and the May revise leaves their status unclear.

Also uncertain is the proposed climate resilience bond measure. Greenlining still hopes to see such a bond measure, designed to meet a “triple bottom line” of creating genuine economic stimulus, meeting community climate resilience needs and centering equity to support the communities hit hardest by COVID-19 and climate change .

Greenlining is disappointed that the governor proposed to eliminate his earlier proposal to expand Medi-Cal to undocumented seniors. Although this creates a short-term cost saving, the pandemic has demonstrated the urgent need to expand access to health care to all. The May revise also cuts the proposal to create the California Office of Health Care Quality and Affordability, which could play a critical role in improving community health and strengthening equity and cost containment as California copes with COVID-19.

Newsom’s revised budget does offer some important relief for small businesses in communities of color, which have been particularly hard hit. As Greenlining had urged, it increases the California Small Business Loan Guarantee Program to $100 million. It also waives LLC formation fees, another crucial need for diverse small businesses. Greenlining will continue to urge that small business programs be adequately marketed and implemented in communities of color.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Community Rejuvenation Project and The Greenlining Institute Announce Final Design for Collaborative Mural Project in Downtown Oakland

Work to Begin May 18

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)
Desi Mundo, Community Rejuvenation Project, (510) 269-7840, CRPBayArea@gmail.com

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Public art and advocacy organization Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) today announced it has completed the final design for a large-scale mural on the exterior wall of The Greenlining Institute’s 360 14th St. headquarters. ural

Mural to be painted on Greenlining Institute headquarters in downtown OaklandThe final design was arrived at by a thorough and detailed process which included multiple community input and design review sessions. In addition to downtown Oakland residents, participants included three key stakeholder groups: the artists and residents of the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, the Chinese-American community in Oakland Chinatown, and Greenlining staff.

“This is the most complex and intricate project CRP has ever done,” said CRP founder and Executive Director Desi Mundo, who will serve as lead artist for the project. “I’m very happy with the final design and extremely thankful for all the community input and feedback we received to get to the point where we are ready to begin painting soon,” he added.

“The Greenlining Institute supports this important community mural representing an inspirational project that brings art into the public space. We hope that our community mural will create a tangible sense of place and destination while adding color, vibrancy and character to our Oakland neighborhood,” said Greenlining President Debra Gore-Mann. “We look forward to seeing this mural create dialogue around the rich and diverse community that is Oakland while instilling art as a form of translation across space and time.”

The eight-story wall, shaped like a reverse “L,” presented some logistical challenges in design due to its physical geography, necessitating a completely revamped approach to the work from CRP’s prior large-scale mural, “The Universal Language.”  Many themes of that mural were carried over into the new design; additional themes and imagery were incorporated from community input. “‘The Universal Language’ celebrated the cultural resiliency of the Afro-Diasporic and Pan-Asian communities in Oakland,” Mundo said. “For this project, it was necessary to include Greenlining’s history and its organizational values, as well as address the activism which led directly to this project, and make historical and cultural connections between the diverse array of people and images that will be featured on the wall.”

The design centers around the theme of transformative equity. Train tracks and an actual redlining map of Oakland represent the inequitable practices and policies of the past. The red lines change to green lines, symbolizing the concept of Greenlining — equitable investment in diverse communities. Greenlining’s early leaders — Bob Gnaizda, George Dean, Ortensia Lopez, and John Gamboa — are all represented, along with San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim (a Greenlining Leadership Academy alumni), Chinese American activist Lailan Huen, members of the Black Panther Party, Filipino-American organizer Terry Bautista and Native American leaders Richard Oakes and Morning Star Gali.

Another unifying theme is the connection between culture and activism in communities of color which is essential to achieving equity. Such Oakland notables as dancers Ruth Beckford, Theo Williams, Latanya Tigner, Carla Service, Halifu Osumare, and Zak and Naomi Diouf are featured, along with Casquelourd and his son Kiazi Malonga, jazz educator Kahlil Shaheed, members of the AXIS Dance Company,  and Chinese ribbon dancers.

The design also connects the spiritual practices of communities of color, from Ohlone rituals to Buddhist elements to Mayan sacred symbols to African and Afro-Cuban drumming and dancing to traditional Azteca copal smoke. It also includes a personal tribute from Mundo to his late wife, Jennifer Ana Finefeuiaki, representing Tongan Americans and Polynesian culture.

The mural will not only commemorate the efforts of local culture-keepers and activists for posterity, but serve as a visual reminder of the multicultural diversity which is at the heart of Oakland culture.  Production will begin on May 18, is expected to last about eight weeks, and will follow strict safety protocols during this time of elevated health concerns. Regular updates on its progress will be posted on www.crpbayarea.org.

At a time when the COVID-19 crisis is adding new strains to populations already under threat from gentrification and displacement, CRP and Greenlining hope the mural will serve as a symbol of hope in the present moment, and for decades to come.

This project is supported by the California Arts Council and Creative Work Fund.

To view a mock-up and detailed description of the mural images, click here.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

CPUC Moves to Help Close Digital Divide for Students

Greenlining Institute Pushed for Funds to Help Students Get Online During Pandemic

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Today the California Public Utilities Commission largely adopted suggestions put forward by The Greenlining Institute to use $5 million from the California Advanced Services Fund to bolster Department of Education efforts to close the digital divide for California students. The funding, estimated by Greenlining to be enough to fund about 16,000 laptops or internet hotspots, comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the gap in online access into an emergency.

“California’s lowest income households are 45 percent less likely to have home internet than the wealthiest, with Latino and African American students at a particular disadvantage,” said Greenlining Institute Technology Equity Legal Counsel Vinhcent Le. “Simply put, this money means thousands of students will be able to continue their education.”

In March, with both K-12 and higher education moving online as a result of the pandemic, the commission asked for input as to how to use the CASF, originally created in 2007 to help bridge the digital divide, to help mitigate the crisis. Greenlining and others urged that the most effective and efficient approach would be to use the money to expand existing efforts to provide laptops or hotspots rather than to create a new program.

The full text of the resolution can be found on the CPUC’S website.

Aside from the COVID-19 crisis, lack of home internet access continues to be a serious handicap for California communities of color and low-income residents. A Greenlining report to be released later this month will look in detail at the experiences of Californians with no or limited home internet access.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Virtual Summit Tackles Racial Equity in the Age of COVID-19 May 21

Online Summit Features Ibram X. Kendi, Alicia Garza, john a. powell, Chesa Boudin, Rhiana Gunn Wright, Manuel Pastor and More

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director,  415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – As it becomes steadily more apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately impacting Americans of color, The Greenlining Institute’s annual Economic Summit – retooled as an online event available nationwide – brings together an extraordinary list of speakers to examine both the huge challenges posed by the pandemic as well as paths toward a fairer, more inclusive future. The day’s program of speakers, fireside chats and panels will include leading thinkers like How to Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi, Black Futures Lab founder Alicia Garza and author and professor john. a. powell, as well as elected officials leading the fight for equity, including San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, considered one of the nation’s leading criminal justice reformers, and California Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland).

Discounted tickets as low as $5 are available through May 7, when special Early Bird pricing concludes.

The Summit theme, We the Future, expresses the drive for a nation where all communities can participate in the creation of healthy, thriving, resilient lives. Speakers and discussions will look at a variety of angles, including:

  • Organizing and power-building in the face of increasing racism and threats to the undocumented, incarcerated people and other vulnerable communities;
  • What history can teach us about times of crisis;
  • The impact of government COVID-19 recovery programs on communities of color;
  • The intersection of health and racial equity in the age of COVID-19;
  • The intersection of health, the climate crisis and the pandemic as we work to build a more resilient and inclusive nation; and
  • How to build an antiracist society;

WHAT: Greenlining’s 27th Annual Economic Summit: We the Future, a Virtual Summit on Racial Equity.

WHO: Speakers include:
Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist and founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University
Alicia Garza, Founder, Black Futures Lab
Chesa Boudin, District Attorney, San Francisco
john a. powell, Director, Othering and Belonging Institute, University of California, Berkeley
Rhiana Gunn Wright, Director of Climate Policy, The Roosevelt Institute
Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), California State Assembly
Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity, University of Southern California

WHEN: Thursday, May 21, 9:15 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

HOW TO ATTEND: Purchase tickets online and get all the details via our Economic Summit web page.

For News Media: Media are invited to attend without charge. For a complimentary pass, email brucem@greenlining.org

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining