The west coast’s oldest black-founded and managed savings and loan will turn 75 next year, with a new partner and an expanded mission.
LA’s Broadway Federal is merging with another black-managed bank in Washington, D.C., that will not only increase resources for funding, but be a first step to expanding low-income banking opportunities in other urban centers.
"This model will allow us to do something that the Black community has always wanted to do," said Wayne Bradshaw, CEO of Broadway Federal Bank.
Bradshaw has, for more than a decade, been at the helm of Broadway Federal, the enduring savings and loan for South LA. Its mission has evolved since its founding, and its purpose has continued.
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In recent years, Broadway Federal has focused on funding the construction of small to midsize apartment buildings.
"We are creating good living space for those in greatest need,” Bradshaw said. “The occupants of the buildings we finance are all working poor.”
Supported by hip hop artists on social media, the hashtag #bankblack has encouraged savings deposits. But like the dwindling number of black-led banks serving low to moderate-income communities, Broadway Federal has been held back by lack of capital to fund loan demand.
Bradshaw's solution? The newly announced merger with another small black-led bank, City First in Washington, D.C.
"This is, if I may say so, a pretty historic moment for our community and I think we have created a model that we will be able to scale up and really be impactful,” Bradshaw said.
He foresees this as a first step toward expanding and creating a national bank with a presence in multiple cities.
It's another heady step forward for the bank co-founded by famed architect Paul Williams, who designed grand public buildings and homes for the rich and famous, but also saw the need to ensure that people of color and lesser means had access to loans and housing.
"We believe we are carrying on that legacy," Bradshaw said.