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Black History Month:
A Focus on Financial Health and Wellness

Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925 to raise awareness of African Americans’ contributions to civilization. The overwhelming response led the celebration to be expanded to a month in 1976, the nation's bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

As T. Rowe Price celebrates Black History Month—with a theme this year of Black health and wellness—we focus on economic stability as an essential building block of health. There are numerous studies that identify financial challenges as a key stressor of Americans. Those challenges can be harmful to a person’s mental and physical health causing issues such as anxiety, weight gain, depression, digestive issues, headaches, and heart disease among others, and lead to additional healthcare-related costs. Through our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, and community partnerships, we strive to improve health and wellness by fostering greater economic access and opportunity.

A cornerstone of our approach to building financial capabilities is helping educators and parents engage kids in conversations about basic money matters. Through our five-step financial education program, Money Confident Kids , we cover goal setting, decision making, money and inflation, asset allocation, diversification, and other topics. This gives students, parents, and educators tools and strategies for achieving financial stability, and for identifying obstacles that drive financial inequity—including the racial wealth gap.

We developed the Money Confident Kids program based on more than a decade of research. Since 2009, T. Rowe Price has conducted an annual Parents, Kids & Money Survey (PKM) that gives us insights into behavioral trends and opportunities that may help broaden the reach of our financial education.

Building Wealth: Opportunities, Barriers, and Race

“We know that having financial capabilities does not automatically equate to having the ability to build wealth. The factors contributing to the racial wealth gap are complex, intertwined with history, and we believe there is an opportunity for our financial education programming to address aspects of it,” says Renee Christoff, head of Global Associate Engagement and Corporate Responsibility at T. Rowe Price.

This latest resource allows students to explore tools and strategies for generating financial stability, while analyzing obstacles that drive financial inequity, including the racial wealth gap.

Learn more about Money Confident Kids

According to the 2021 PKM survey, Black (37%) and Hispanic (27%) parents were more likely than white (19%) parents to report being laid off or furloughed. Additionally, Black (45%) and Hispanic (40%) parents were less likely than white (26%) parents to have sufficient emergency funds heading into the pandemic. Between having personal balance sheets that are less secure and employment situations that were more likely to be impacted by the pandemic, parents of color have had higher risks to their financial well-being during the pandemic.

Our annual Retirement Savings and Spending survey found that Black and Latinx 401(k) savings rates are lower compared to their white counterparts. This is an opportunity for employers to promote DEI in defined contribution plans and help address broader social inequality. By better understanding the challenges underrepresented groups face, employers and financial professionals can develop strategies to help ensure participants of all races and ethnicities thrive financially and retire successfully.

The first step for employers may be as simple as seeking input from their diverse employees about what would be helpful to improve financial wellness. Additionally, employers could also incorporate plan designs that prioritize participation, such as automatic enrollment, auto increase, or using incentives, such as matching employer contributions to increase contribution rates.

The T. Rowe Price Foundation similarly prioritizes equity in our philanthropic grant-making. We partner with several nonprofits that are helping to lessen the wealth gap for individuals and small businesses. These collaborations include supporting Brioxy in increasing Black homeownership, CASH Campaign of Maryland in supporting entrepreneurs, and KIVA in increasing access to loans. We also opened the Bmore CoLab, a nonprofit collaboration space that provides various services to promote entrepreneurship and financial wellbeing in Baltimore, MD.

In response to racial inequity, T. Rowe Price and its Foundation committed $2 million to support six local organizations in the fight against racial injustice. These efforts represented a continuation of T. Rowe Price’s commitment to advance racial equity and racial justice. Since 2015, the T. Rowe Price Foundation has granted or has commitments of more than $5.5 million in grants that support organizations which empower young people of color and increase access and opportunities for organizations focused on racial equity and racial justice.

As we commemorate Black History Month and other celebrations of diversity, we invite you to learn more about our DEI initiatives and how our differences bring us together at