Little Rock to Participate in CityStart Initiative

Seal of Little Rock
Tuesday, Apr 16, 2024

Media Release

City of Little Rock Public Relations (501) 371-6801

LITTLE ROCK – Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. announced today the City of Little Rock is one of just five cities across the country selected to participate in the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s CityStart Initiative. This innovative program with a specific focus on racial wealth equity will help Mayor Scott and Little Rock officials develop and implement strategies aimed toward helping families and communities become more financially stable.

Little Rock joins Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Buffalo in the group of cities selected to receive a $75,000 planning grant and an intensive technical assistance engagement partnership.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative whose mission is to accelerate the pace of wealth accumulation for Black individuals and families and address systemic underinvestment in Black communities in the U.S. – is advising Little Rock and the CFE Fund on the design and execution of the CityStart program utilizing a racial wealth equity lens

“Economic equity is a pillar of my administration, because for far too long wealth disparities have burdened our community and created unnecessary challenges,” Mayor Scott said. “Our partnership with Cities for Financial Empowerment through the CityStart Initiative will allow us to put financial empowerment at the forefront of our services to residents and to center wealth creation as part of our intentional efforts to unite, grow and transform this City.”

To date, 40 municipal governments have already participated in the CityStart financial empowerment blueprint process. Over the last three years, the program has focused specifically on racial wealth equality. Drawing on a decade of CFE Fund work in more than 100 cities and counties, the initiative leverages insights into financial instability impact, crafting measurable strategies to enhance the financial well-being of residents.

For example, other cities have implemented programs that help forgive medical debt so that residents may allocate money to other priorities, or are working to develop a professional financial counseling program with a focus on wealth building in historically Black neighborhoods.

Mayor Scott said Little Rock would look to the examples from other Cities, feedback from Little Rock residents and the insight from CFE and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative to identify the innovative, effective and efficient strategies to uplift Little Rock residents.

“Across the country, leaders are using the levers of local government to deploy financial empowerment strategies that improve their residents’ financial stability,” said Jonathan Mintz, president and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “We look forward to working with Mayor Scott and his team to advance financial empowerment and racial wealth equity, and we thank Bloomberg Philanthropies for their longstanding partnership and investment in government-led financial empowerment.”

Garnesha Ezediaro, who leads Bloomberg Philanthropies' Greenwood Initiative, said: "Racial wealth inequity negatively impacts our global economy and narrows the opportunities for communities across the U.S. to thrive. Through our partnership with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund's CityStart initiative, we're equipping local leaders with tools and data to surface the needs within their local economies and create plans to help Black residents flourish financially and build intergenerational wealth."