Pamplin Media Group – Oregon nonprofit tackling racial wealth gap – Portland Tribune

New financial literacy program is part of a larger effort to help young people of color find success

Oregon’s income inequality may be growing and its racial wealth gaps widening, but one organization aims to change that.

The Contingent, a Portland-based venture nonprofit preparing people of color to thrive in society, is celebrating the second year of a financial literacy initiative.

Survival Is Not Enough was launched in March 2021 as a multi-year program intending to close the growing racial wealth gap. Aimed at recent college grads of color, the SINE program is free, pairing members with BIPOC professionals who guide them on financial education and professional growth.

Members are guided through four areas of focus: financial education, such as budgeting, paying off debt, and effective use of credit cards; wealth building by investing savings and protecting assets; leadership development, including setting and advancing career goals; and civic engagement to become community leaders.

“We are asked provoking accountability questions about our career and what we want to be,” Sasheen Turner, a SINE member, said.

Previously called the Portland Leadership Foundation, the organization has rebranded itself as The Contingent, but is still focused on developing young people of color into future leaders, while also fixing gaps in state programs like the foster care system.

Recent college graduates of color who’ve completed a two- or four-year degree program within the past five years are encouraged to get involved with the next round of SINE. The program is geared toward people age 18 to 35. Applications are due Aug. 15.

The SINE program already has proven successful after a year. More than 80% of members in the first pilot cohort now have an emergency fund that could last three months. Comparatively, the national average of Americans having three months of savings is just under 51%.

“The objective is to close the wealth gap in tangible and measurable ways,” said Nick Poindexter, director of mentoring, partnerships and recruitment at The Contingent. “The benefit of this program is it’s not just focused on getting a job. It’s helping you advance your career, building financial wealth, and also learning leadership skills. I think what the SINE program does is holistically look at how do we develop college graduates of color.”

J.T. Hutchinson, PNC Bank regional president and head of corporate banking for Portland, praised the program. “PNC has an established track record of supporting programs that empower historically marginalized communities, and SINE is doing just that,” he said in a press release.

Part of the program’s success was aided by an assessment tool the organization created, called a social …….