Making an Impact with those Financially Impacted by COVID-19

Date: February 10, 2021

Dear Colleague:

The regretful reality is that statistics clearly indicate that minority Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to one NPR report, “nationally, African American deaths from COVID-19 are nearly two times greater than would be expected based on their share of the population.”

That phrase: “disproportionately affected.” It is a phrase that unfortunately continues to apply to the various recent crises we’ve experienced in this country.

Whether economic, natural disaster or health-related, institutional barriers to equality means that minority families must bear the brunt of these crises, which seem to occur with increasing frequency. This cannot be passed on to the next generation, and we cannot kick the can down the road.

As we commemorate Black History Month and recognize both the contributions that African Americans have made to this country as well as the racial injustices that remain in place today, VantageScore is recommitting itself to doing its part to close the structural wealth gap that exists between minority and white households.

A key element of this commitment is VantageScore’s investment in financial literacy and financial inclusion. That said, I’m pleased to announce that VantageScore, along with our partners American Express and TransUnion, is launching a CNN web series "The Game Plan". “The Game Plan” is a timely branded content series aimed at empowering the tens of millions of American consumers financially and negatively impacted by COVID-19.

The series is hosted by Dhani Jones, a former football player turned business owner, who will highlight episode themes such as credit health, money stress, debt management, saving for retirement, and even repositioning yourself for a career change. A cadre of financial experts, will also help guide guests with actionable advice on how to manage financial hardships, especially in light of the pandemic.

The episodes will be distributed through various CNN digital properties and will air every few weeks, starting March 1. We will be sure to keep you posted on the next airing. For now, you can click here to view the series trailer video.

I am not naïve enough to expect our video series or even financial education, more broadly, to be the solution to addressing racial injustice or even the wealth gap that exists between whites and minority Americans. But it’s incremental. And if we all engage, do our part and lean-in, we can make a difference and affect change together.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing work our partner at HomeFree-USA is doing as the largest black-owned housing counseling organization in America. As we’ve reported on before, we have partnered with the counseling organization to fund scholarships and provide credit education to students and faculty at historically black college universities (HBCUs).

Check out this video detailing the story of Roberto Sanchez, who faced mounting medical bills after being hospitalized due to an accident. As a student he had no idea if he'd be able to pay his college tuition. Through HomeFree-USA’s “Center for Financial Advancement” we were able to help Roberto get back on track at Bowie State University. Way to go, Roberto!

A financial inclusion theme is featured throughout this month’s newsletter, including a “Did you know” article on how to be credit visible and a “5 Questions with…” interview with Talk’uments, a company that is helping bridge the multilingual communication gap for those who are seeking a loan.

Happy Black History Month to all.

Barrett Burns