Netflix made headlines last week when its CEO made the largest private donation ever to historically black colleges and universities in addition to the company’s donation of $100 million dollars for COVID-19 relief. This week, the streaming entertainment giant announced that it will invest $100 million to Black-owned banks.
Netflix will allocate 2% of its cash holdings, up to $100 million, into Black-owned financial institutions and organizations that support Black communities around the country. The idea was conceived when Aaron Mitchell, director, Talent Acquisition for the company, wanted to help his community amid the current protests occurring around the country and new dialogues centered on race relations in the United States.
“We’ve been working on this idea [since] April,” said Mitchell in an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE. “We’ve been doing work on trying to help our leaders network with more diverse backgrounds…once the effects of COVID [became] clear they were having a disproportionate effect on Black and Latino communities, one of these conversations [involved] these structural issues and the racial wealth gap was one of those issues.”
After a conversation with Netflix executives, Mitchell did some research and came across The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap, written by Mehrsa Baradaran, where the idea for the investment initiative was born. After the death of George Floyd, things only began to accelerate the movement. “We had a proposal all ready to go,” Mitchell continued. “That week I decided to forward the proposal to our CEO…who within two hours got back and said looks great, let’s work it out.”
The first two acts of the new initiative will be a $25 million investment to the newly established Black Economic Development Initiative to be managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corp., a nonprofit focused on developing underinvested communities; and $10 million to the Hope Credit Union in the form of a transformational deposit to offer opportunities to marginalized communities across the Deep South.
“Netflix is an entertainment company and our greatest impact is [through] our storytelling and our ability to reach mass audiences with thought-provoking content,” said Shannon Alwyn, director, Treasury to BLACK ENTERPRISE. “We [also] want to help find a way to bring equity to black communities by working with these Black-owned and Black-led financial institutions and allocating a small portion of our cash holdings is a relatively easy way for us to hopefully make a meaningful difference.”