Madison, Wis. – Filene Research Institute is partnering with Urban Strategies, Inc. and Native Women Lead to create the Racial Economic Equity (REE) Incubator. The REE Incubator will work to advance racial economic equity through the credit union system by co-creating solutions that meet local community members’ needs and delivers resources, support and capital to communities of color.
Communities of color have faced a long history of systematic racialized exclusion from the financial services industry, greatly limiting wealth-building opportunities across multiple generations. The REE Incubator aims to take a unique approach to addressing wealth gaps by inviting up to six credit unions already partnering with community organizations to apply together and participate. As a cohort, they will help create a framework for incorporating racial equity into financial programs, products, services, and strategies with an explicit focus on reducing the racial wealth gap.
“Filene believes that for the credit union industry to develop valuable and successful financial products and services for BIPOC communities, it must co-create products and services with those very communities,” said Josh Sledge, Senior Director of Incubation. “The REE Incubator is forging new pathways for credit unions and communities to strengthen community-driven partnerships, develop joint priorities and implement practices.”
Expanding on Filene’s 15+ year successful track record of testing and scaling solutions, the REE Incubator is looking to develop a new norm and practice within the credit union industry by examining co-creation grounded in a racial equity lens. Through this approach, participating partners in the REE Incubator will identify opportunities to test, refine and evaluate strategies to close the racial wealth gap, and develop a process map centering an equity lens.
“It is important for credit unions to work with diverse communities and people with different lived experiences to co-create and push toward a fundamental realignment of power between credit unions and community,” said Jamie Gloshay, Co-Director and Co-Founder of Native Women Lead. “I am excited to work with Filene Research Institute and Urban Strategies, Inc. on this important initiative that visions a pathway toward economic justice and equity.”
Urban Strategies, Inc. and Native Women Lead have deep experience working with diverse stakeholders nationally, and developing strategies at the levels of macro, organizational and local context, especially as it relates to structural racism and authentic co-creation.
“To ensure all children, families, businesses, and communities have an equitable pathway toward stability and thriving, the REE Incubator will hold partners and participants informed and accountable for the debt reduction and wealth-building opportunities long deserving of communities of color,” said Donovan Duncan, Executive Vice President, Urban Strategies, Inc. “Urban Strategies, Inc. is committed to disrupting the systems of poverty and inequity in low-wealth, Black, Brown, and Indigenous neighborhoods across this country; the time is now and we are honored to support this work.”
The next phase in this Incubator will be conducted over the course of 9-12 months with the launch of live product testing in Fall 2023.
If the REE Incubator interests you, complete this interest form to be among the first to hear when the RFP opens on Friday, October 14, 2022. Applications will be accepted until end of business on December 2, 2022.
Credit unions are also invited to bring their community partners to an information webinar with Filene, Urban Strategies, Inc. and Native Women Lead on November 3 at 11:00am CDT to learn more.
This is just a starting point to drive lasting change that can transform financial systems to work better for all communities.
About Filene: Filene Research Institute strengthens organizations through innovative research and incubation to improve consumer financial well-being. As an independent cooperative finance think tank, Filene’s membership network connects a community of leaders and bright minds to change lives through innovation, truth and cooperation. In addition to delivering cutting-edge, actionable academic research, Filene also provides incubators to test and scale solutions, events to spark organizations into action and advisory services to help accelerate and implement innovation. For more information, visit filene.org and @fileneresearch.