The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s UNC Center for Community Capital has received a $1.05 million grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to develop innovative strategies and solutions that help under-resourced communities become more vibrant and economically inclusive across the nation.

“This research will help us better understand how strategic community investments can enhance lifetime opportunities for low- and moderate-income families,” said Lucy Gorham, the center’s executive director. “We will disseminate findings widely so community organizations can expand, sustain and replicate those practices.”

Center researchers will create an “Opportunity Index” and develop new models for increasing financial capability and innovative technologies to deliver financial services. The index, created in collaboration with two high-impact local nonprofits, will measure the availability of essential resources that families need to get ahead, such as high quality education, health care, job opportunities and financial services. Using the index as a benchmark, the center will work intensively with community leaders and residents to identify barriers to opportunity and determine how they can be addressed.

The center also will partner with three affordable housing organizations – Cleveland Housing Network, Resurrection Project in Chicago and New York City Housing Authority and Office of Financial Empowerment – that are piloting models for integrating financial capability services into their housing programs. These programs are helping families improve their credit scores as they pay down debt and prepare for new employment and homeownership opportunities as part of a customized financial stability plan.

Additionally, the center will evaluate quality financial inclusion efforts to broaden access for consumers by delivering innovative online and mobile access to affordable options for those who lack traditional bank accounts or services.

“We look forward to working with local partners to explore what is working and what is not, always a critical part of innovation,” said center director Roberto G. Quercia, who is co-directing the project with Gorham. “Our findings can be disseminated beyond the university and into the real world where they can inform public policy and practice on the ground.”

Improving consumer financial health is one of the top priorities for JPMorgan Chase. The firm invests in financial capability programs that support innovative new products and services that leverage technology and insights from design and behavioral science to help consumers increase savings, improve credit and build assets.

“Too many people in our country still struggle to make ends meet and we need the public and private sectors to work together to help them. We want to promote vibrant and economically inclusive communities where more people and families can thrive,” said Mel Martinez, chairman for JPMorgan Chase in the southeast United States and a leader in the firm’s financial prosperity work. “Financially healthy individuals increase the financial stability and resiliency of our communities.”

About the UNC Center for Community Capital  

The UNC Center for Community Capital is the leading center for research and policy analysis on the transformative power of financial capital on households and communities in the United States. It is part of the UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences and a Center for Urban and Regional Studies affiliate. The center’s in-depth analyses help policymakers, thought leaders, and the private sector find sustainable ways to expand economic opportunity to more people, more effectively.

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 113 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty – including two Nobel laureates – staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.4 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.

Media Contacts

Office of Development contact: Kim Elenez, (919) 962-1628, kelenez@unc.edu
JP Morgan Chase contact: Maribel Ferrer (305) 579-9493, Maribel.ferrer@chase.com
Communications and Public Affairs contact: MC VanGraafeiland, (919) 962-7090, mc.vangraafeiland@unc.edu

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