MONROE, La. (KNOE) – The City of Monroe is tackling economic barriers faced by black residents throughout the city.

The city is teaming up with Bloomberg Philanthropies Cities for Financial Empowerment to host the ‘CityStart Financial Empowerment Summit.’ According to the city, community engagement consultant Katrina Branson will facilitate the summit; aiming to promote discussions on financial empowerment and wealth equity in the black community.

Community engagement meetings began in February 2024 when residents actively participated in focus groups and round-table discussions at the city’s five community centers. The city used these meetings for residents and stakeholders to have an open dialogue and share challenges and goals related to financial empowerment.

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Through these meetings, organizers collected the necessary data to create a special guide of resources for the black community to use to gain financial wealth and stability. Now, the ‘CityStart Financial Empowerment Summit’ is the final event that will wrap up the community engagement series.

“We are thrilled to host the CityStart Financial Empowerment Summit,” said Mayor Friday Ellis. “This summit underscores the City’s commitment to promoting economic inclusion and opportunity for our residents, specifically addressing the felt needs of our black community members who continually face barriers to wealth building.”

The city announced that the summit will feature local panelists who are expected to share their expertise and experiences in navigating financial challenges and building wealth. At the summit, attendees can take advantage of services and engaging sessions to reach their financial goals.

“When we think about racial wealth equity, we think about things that have happened historically. We think about things that have happened systemically that have really challenged the black community when it comes to creating that financial wealth that we really know that we should have,” said Branson.

Branson said the summit is more than just a community meeting. She stated residents can speak with a panel of entrepreneurs, participate in a game night with an interactive spin on Q&A, and explore a financial resource fair with vendors who have real solutions to help with financial goals and wealth building.

The city wrote in a news release that anyone who’s interested in advancing economic equity is invited to attend. Admission is free, but registration for the summit is required. Learn about the summit’s panelists on the city’s Facebook page and reserve your spot here. The summit will take place Friday (May 3) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Terrace, located on the 7th floor of the Library on the University of Louisiana Monroe’s campus.

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