2020 Reflection on Impactful Partnerships: Wells Fargo’s Support of Persistent Poverty Communities Impacted by COVID-19

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As we approach the New Year, we’re taking the time to look back and appreciate our accomplishments and partnerships.  It has been a highly unprecedented year and we’ve seen the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate the disparities faced by those living in poverty.  It has shone a bright light on the gaps in our nation’s infrastructure for delivering opportunity and advancing prosperity in rural persistent poverty areas. However, we’ve also seen many organizations who share our values on ending persistent poverty take extra steps to ensure our communities and people across the country have the opportunity to survive, rebuild, and recover through these difficult times.

Wells Fargo Foundation’s COVID-19 Rural Housing and Community Development Support has been highly beneficial to Fahe’s efforts and those of the other five CDFIs who comprise the steering committee of the Partners for Rural Transformation (PRT).  This support has allowed these CDFIs to respond to the crisis as they advance a long-term strategy on recovering and rebuilding communities in Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, Native American Country, and the Colonias. We’ve accomplished this through:

  • collaborating to address inequities in initial public relief and recovery resources to continue making progress on closing the racial wealth gap
  • amplifying rural voices through our direct connection with the communities we serve
  • responding to need on the ground by providing training and technical assistance
  • providing critical support to businesses suffering immediate and ongoing effects of COVID-19
  • supporting families in obtaining safe, affordable housing during a time when being healthy at home is more important than ever

These efforts have made real changes in the lives of real people struggling through the pandemic.  In reference to stimulus funding, one small business owner stated: “I just didn’t think it was going to be available to me. What you’ve done for us proves to me that organizations like yours do support communities in a way that maybe other financial institutions do not.”

Wells Fargo’s funding has also made an impact by supporting our capacity to focus simultaneously on the challenges of today while laying the foundation for a better tomorrow. With their support, we are advocating for policies to improve our communities like CRA reform, 10-20-30 language, and increases and prioritization on federal investments in PPAs.  It has also allowed PRT to come together during a critical time to have peer networking sessions to share and educate on best practices and policy responses and to collaborate on critical proposals that helped strengthen relationships and provide new opportunities.

In addition, Wells Fargo’s support has allowed each PRT organization to achieve outstanding impact in the delivery of transformative resources such as mortgages and small business loans. Together, PRT facilitated over $117MM in CARES and other stimulus funding and investments into households and businesses impacted by COVID-19 in just six months.

If we want to see true change in our underinvested communities, we need to continue to see more equitable investment and opportunities for underserved people and places such as rural and BIPOC communities.  We are thankful for Well Fargo’s continued partnership as we build back better communities and economies. 

As we continue to move into the New Year, we will continue to recognize our partners who stepped up in 2020 to help our communities recover and thrive through this crisis.

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