Wells Fargo creating ‘HOPE’ centers to support minority communities

Wells Fargo has branches throughout Georgia, including this location in Sandy Springs.

Wells Fargo has branches throughout Georgia, including this location in Sandy Springs.

Wells Fargo is teaming up with an Atlanta-based national nonprofit to provide more financial support to underserved communities.

The banking giant announced Tuesday that it’s opening new “HOPE Inside” centers in a partnership with Operation HOPE, which helps consumers improve credit scores. One of the first centers in the nation will open in May at the Wells Fargo branch located at 6063 Memorial Drive in Stone Mountain.

HOPE Inside centers will have an Operation HOPE consultant who will provide financial education workshops and free coaching to residents. The program falls under Wells Fargo’s Banking Inclusion Initiative, which is the company’s 10-year pledge to make banking resources available for adults who don’t have savings accounts, credit cards, or personal checks, among other financial services.

Darlene Goins, head of Wells Fargo’s Banking Initiative, said residents don’t have to have a checking or savings account to access the HOPE Inside center’s resources. That’s important, she said, as the company researches ways to address the impact of decades of systemic inequities nationwide that have contributed to racial disparities in banking access.

“Wells Fargo, as one of the largest community banks in the country, wants to do our part to remove those barriers to financial inclusion for Black and African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans,” Goins said.

Goins said 72% of Operation HOPE’s customers see increases in their FICO credit scores through participation in their coaching program. She said a second HOPE coach will be added to the Atlanta region’s program later this year, and Wells Fargo wants to eventually provide access to their coaches at five to 10 branches.

Similar coaching programs will also debut in Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and New York, to name a few. Operation HOPE Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant said in a statement that the centers will offer expanded resources to support the financial goals of individuals with the greatest needs.

This financial coaching initiative from Wells Fargo is the company’s latest effort to support Atlanta’s underserved population. In February, city officials announced that Wells Fargo is giving $1.3 million to the Atlanta metro area to jumpstart planning around the creation of 1,000 affordable homes over the next five years. And in January, Mayor Andre Dickens announced Atlanta is receiving $20 million from Wells Fargo to support minority-owned small businesses.