Port Washington State Bank (PWSB) has become the first corporate contributor to help Wisconsin’s only Black-owned financial institution modernize its technology and extend its reach to more low-to-moderate-income families seeking to become homeowners. Port Washington State Bank contributed $10,000 toward Columbia Savings & Loan Association’s Centennial Fund.
Columbia Savings & Loan Association announced its Centennial Fund in February, Black History Month. Headquartered in Wisconsin’s poorest zip code, Columbia designed the Centennial Fund to help the 99-year-old bank defray the costs of overhauling its technology and implementing online and mobile banking for its customers. Financial technology, often referred to as FinTech, is one of the largest administrative expenses for banks.
Milwaukee’s African-American population has the second-lowest homeownership rate among the nation’s major metro areas. “Columbia Savings & Loan Association has been at the forefront of helping families of color become homeowners,” stated Ernest Jones, board chair. “Contributions from Port Washington State Bank and other corporate partners would enable Columbia to use technology in expanding access to capital for those families we cannot reach today.”
“We are proud to support Columbia Savings & Loan Association and its mission to make homeownership a reality for more Milwaukee families,” stated Port Washington State Bank President & COO James Schowalter. Schowalter went on to challenge other banks and corporations to match his financial institution’s lead contribution. He remarked, “We all believe in the American Dream, and want to enable more families to realize that dream. By coming together and contributing to Columbia’s Centennial Fund, we can all be a part of substantially increasing equity and inclusion in underserved areas of the community.”
Columbia Savings & Loan Association Executive Vice President Will Martin explained homeownership is not simply about a place to live. “Homeownership is the first step toward generational wealth, and home equity is an important source of capital for starting a business,” Martin said. “Thanks to Port Washington State Bank and Centennial Fund contributors to come, Columbia will have the technology needed to launch a new century of service to future homeowners and small business entrepreneurs.”
Columbia’s Centennial Fund goal is to raise $1.5 million by December 2024. Other corporate contributions are currently pending.