The ongoing pandemic has taught us many things about ourselves, perhaps most significantly, what is most valuable and important to us. Even more, all this downtime has given us the chance to reflect on how we can direct our time and effort toward those things. That’s why BBVA spent the early part of 2020 converting its in-person financial education program to deliver virtual classes.
There has never been a more important time to gain and maintain control of finances, and for BBVA’s Center for Financial Education, providing useful, accessible financial education has always been a key step in helping our customers achieve that goal. When social distancing guidelines limited our ability to provide in-person training, we redoubled our efforts and reached more than 8,000 participants digitally in neighborhoods across the country.
Our workshops focus on three key financial areas to support the communities we serve: achieving homeownership, starting and managing a small business, and improving personal financial health. Nearly 23 percent of participants took part in workshops to achieve homeownership, which we know is a valuable first step toward building wealth. In fact, according to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, the median homeowner has 40 times the household wealth of a renter. Of those who participated, more than 95 percent of attendees indicated they were ready to take meaningful action toward that goal within 60 days of the workshop.
We’ve also seen a significant correlation between homeownership and race, which contributes to the disparate distribution of wealth among demographic groups in the U.S. In 2019, the homeownership rate among white non-Hispanic Americans was nearly 75 percent, compared to 42 percent among Black Americans, the largest gap since the census’ time series began in 1994. The financial impact from the pandemic threatens to exacerbate this gap. According to the most recent US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, eight percent of white homeowners missed the previous month’s mortgage payment, compared to nearly 17 percent of Black homeowners, 15 percent of Hispanic homeowners, and 18 percent of Asian homeowners. This gap clearly demonstrates that communities of color are being hit hardest in terms of financial stability and homeownership. As part of our commitment, BBVA continues to partner with organizations to provide financial education workshops specifically targeting communities of color.
Our goal, then, in providing homeownership workshops designed to foster knowledge and preparedness, has always been to create opportunities for homeownership and the generational wealth that comes with it. We’ve seen the impact of our workshops in both knowledge gained and in behavior change among participants. Based on pre- and post-assessment scores, homeownership knowledge grew from 69 percent to 79 percent following BBVA financial education workshops, while more than 90 percent of participants indicated they planned to or already had made financial changes to work toward securing a home mortgage.
Increased savings and better credit can impact homeownership, which impacts families, neighborhoods and communities. Through financial education and wellness, BBVA sees a role to play in impacting the future of those communities, especially in a post-pandemic world.