Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) has announced a USD 20 Million commitment to push economic opportunities in Native American communities working with Native-led organizations. This initiative aims to address housing, small business, financial health and sustainability amongst Native American communities in New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. This comes as no surprise as the company is building on its USD 50 million commitment to address American Indian and Alaska Native communities economic, social and environmental needs that launched back in 2017 and was completed in 2022.
“Invest Native is the latest chapter in Wells Fargo’s long-standing commitment to indigenous communities,” said Otis Rolley, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “We are looking to build on relationships cultivated over many years and to strengthen the capacity of Native-led organizations so they can serve more people. We heard from many Native leaders that growing operational infrastructure was just as important as expanding essential programs that build economic stability and independence.” Tawney Brunsch, executive director of Lakota Funds, said, “With our past Wells Fargo grant, Lakota Funds provided financing to a young enrolled tribal member to purchase a seamless steel siding franchise. The Wells Fargo capital has enabled the young Lakota man to provide a quality product with quality service to the Pine Ridge reservation and surrounding communities. This business venture also created five new jobs as well as provided an income to this young man to support his family. This is the type of work we want to be expanding to others.”
Native Community Capital CEO Dave Castillo stated, “The Wells Fargo Foundation’s prior grant to us provided a lifeline to our small business borrowers as they navigated the COVID economy. Forbearance and forgiveness funds allowed businesses to catch up on their financial obligations while pivot loans helped businesses adapt to a new reality. Entrepreneurs solve problems every day; Wells Fargo Foundation dollars were critical in making the difficult transition possible. This year we’re excited to utilize Wells Fargo Foundation dollars to work alongside the New Mexico Tribal Homeownership Coalition and invest in tribal homeownership initiatives.”
Lakota Vogel, executive director of Four Bands Community Fund, added, “In the past few years, I have witnessed Wells Fargo invest in fostering a more informed strategy about the racial wealth gap in Indian Country. The investments from Wells Fargo have amplified indigenous stories about our own experiences of wealth and our understanding for wealth building.”