The racial wealth gap is something the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx and three other NBA clubs are now addressing through a new partnership focused on financial wellness with Stackwell, a Black-owned financial services technology company based in Boston. The partnership was announced late last month.
Stackwell introduced a new financial app in September that targets Black Millennials, Generation Z’ers and others, designed to both educate and grow their wealth in the financial market. Users can download it from the App Store and get started with a $1 monthly subscription fee and a commitment to invest a minimum of $10. The app also features financial literacy tools for its users.
“Our insights have told us that one of the biggest contributing factors to the under-investment of Black Americans in the financial markets actually [is] the angst and anxiety,” said Stackwell Founder and CEO Trevor Rozier-Byrd in a recent MSR phone interview.
“It was really important that we deliver the product to people in the community to help them streamline that decision and help them to gain access to a well-diversified portfolio that could give them exposure into the market that can help them grow and amass more wealth over time.”
White Americans on average have a median household wealth of over $135,000, while Black households have a median wealth of under $13,000, according to a WalletHub study. A 2018 PolicyLink report surmised that racial equity in the U.S. would be achieved if the average incomes of Blacks and other people of color were increased by $18,000.
According to the Minnesota Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Twin Cities Disparities by Race Report, the metro area’s median household income was $77,034 in 2018 but Black household median income was $36,047—over $47,000 less than White households.
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, around 60% of U.S. adults have no financial educational opportunities. Rozier-Byrd remembered that when he graduated from college back in the mid-2000s, he wasn’t fully versed on the financial markets or how they worked.
“I struggled with many misperceptions like a lot of people in our community,” he recalled. But once he invested and his investments began to grow, the Stackwell leader found his anxiety slowly disappearing as his knowledge grew.
After several years working in corporate and legal areas, Rozier-Byrd founded Stackwell in September 2021. Now, a year later, his company is working with the Timberwolves and Lynx, along with Detroit, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.—“cities that have extremely large concentrations of poverty,” noted Rozier-Byrd.
“We wanted to be in the places where we can meet and authentically touch and drive impact for the communities we serve. We truly are really excited to partner with these different teams and provide access to opportunity and promote positive impact and change.”
“We were introduced to these folks this summer,” explained Ryan Tanke, the Timberwolves and Lynx chief operating officer. He told the MSR last week, “I think more than anything [we are] just really inspired by the platform that they’re building, actively getting Black Minnesotans to participate in this mobile app experience that’s all about education, and giving people the tools to go out and invest.”
In addition, the local NBA/WNBA teams will be hosting events at their practice facilities and collaborating with employers, social justice organizations, and community groups throughout the upcoming Timberwolves season. The Stackwell brand will be promoted during games as well.
“The pandemic gave us this great opportunity to reset as an organization,” said Tanke. “I think the Covid gave us this chance to really spend a lot of time reassessing our commitment inside of various communities.
“Part of that is leaning in on different community efforts, whether it’s voting or different things. We’re just educating ourselves along the way to have the urgent need inside of this community, and then how can the Timberwolves and Lynx organization be a part of it.”
The Cities’ longstanding racial wealth inequities soon became a focus for the local pro basketball teams, and partnering with a Black-owned company to help address it was a no-brainer, said the executive.
“Minneapolis being the city at the center of the conversations” around racial change, said Rozier-Byrd, “we will have a number of [events] throughout the year where we’re promoting financial literacy and training and education programs. We will certainly be in the market and just really excited to get to many people in the community.
“We’re going to teach and we’re going to help educate a generation around financial literacy.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.