As part of an ongoing sponsored series on Black financial health, we are exploring the racial wealth gap, its impact on our community, and what’s being done to address it. In today’s column, we highlight the grand re-opening of the Chase Stony Island branch in the South Shore neighborhood, and speak with the team on the ground about what this completely redesigned space will offer to local residents. We welcome your ideas and questions to be covered in this series, and encourage you to email those questions and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On February 4th, Chase held a virtual ribbon cutting event for the Stony Island branch, which included JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, Chase Consumer Banking CEO Thasunda Duckett, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Alderman Leslie Hairston and others. This is the first in Chase’s more than 300 branches in Chicagoland to feature a new community-inspired model offering free financial health resources like skills training, small business pop-ups, and fintech innovation to local residents.
Chase invested more than $2.6 million to completely renovate the branch (located at 6650 S. Stony Island Ave. and originally opened in 1994), part of a multimillion dollar initiative to refurbish and repair more than 40 branches in the South/West side and Loop neighborhoods of Chicago. The firm awarded all of the project work to diverse, minority-owned suppliers and contractors based in Chicagoland.
We sat down with the Chase Stony Island Community and Branch Managers, William Jaramillo and Aneshia Bonds, respectively, about the re-opening of the branch, what it means for the community, and how they plan to use their platform to improve financial health among residents and build trust.
Thank you both for talking with us. Can you tell us about the new Chase Community Center branch in Stony Island? How is this different from other Chase branches?
William: This is a new type of branch we’ve renovated with extra space, and free enhanced Wi-Fi and technology so that it can be an active resource for the community. Our community room will be a place to host community events, financial health workshops like Chase Chats, and a storefront that can act as pop up space for local businesses to showcase their products.
Aneshia: We want this to be a place for education and advice. That means giving residents the help and tools to build a budget, to save for a down payment or start a business. It’s about community building, and making local connections.
This is only the third branch like this in Chase’s nearly 4,700 branches nationwide. Why did Chase choose Stony Island?
Aneshia: I grew up just a few blocks from the branch, and I can tell you that this is a special community. But this is also a community that’s been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and many local residents need a bank that understands them, and can give them the advice they need to get back on their feet.
William: This branch was chosen to be one of the 16 Community Centers across the country because of its historical significance in the South Shore community as well as being a thriving hub for Black-owned businesses. This location has the space needed to continue to engage residents and businesses in this community.
William, you are the Stony Island Community Manager. What does your role entail? And Aneshia, what are you most excited about for your role?
William: The Community Manager is a new role here at Chase. My role is to help build relationships with local leaders, organizations and residents, and make sure people know about Chase and everything we have to offer. We’re hiring 150 Community Managers across the country, with three to four in Chicagoland.
Aneshia: I’m honored to lead our branch employees who truly make a difference in our customers’ lives every day. Just the other day we received a client letter thanking the staff, particularly one of our bankers, for his professionalism and all the things we did every day before the grand opening during COVID, rioting, and protesting. This client expressed how he really looked forward to the added benefits from the Community Center that will help regular clients like himself and his family.
What’s next for the Stony Island branch? Are there upcoming events or workshops that our readers can sign up for?
William: Excited to say that events are well underway, and we’re using technology to give us a virtual platform to engage our community during COVID. We will be hosting a minimum of three to four events per month focusing on open conversations about money and credit called Chase Chats, in addition to several events in partnership with local organizations. These events will include topics such as budgeting and savings, understanding the importance of credit, homebuyer education and so much more.
To learn more about Chase’s new branches and its larger commitment to advance racial equity, please visit: www.jpmorganchase.com/pathforward
This story is the fourth in our series on Black financial health that is made possible from a sponsorship by JPMorgan Chase.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC