After the death last year of George Floyd, Chris Taylor was depressed but motivated to take action.
As a Black banker who grew up with strong financial role models, he knew he could make a difference teaching financial literacy to youth in diverse communities in Columbus, Ohio.
Working with a manager at U.S. Bank, he began crafting a proposal that would create a new full-time role allowing him to do just that. The next step was to run the initiative by our Consumer and Business Banking leader Tim Welsh, who had encouraged employees to reach out after Floyd’s death.
Welsh gave Taylor a call almost immediately.
“He said, ‘Chris, you are the guy to do this,’” Taylor recalled. “’We need to help people.’”
A little more than three months into the project, Taylor, a former business banker who now holds the title of financial education and wellness specialist, has orchestrated 40-plus workshops and taught more than 430 students and adults. That blew away his initial goal of five workshops with 150 participants.
“The kids are loving the content,” he said, “and are really responding well to me.”
Taylor’s work is part of broader efforts at U.S. Bank to promote financial literacy and to build wealth and create access for diverse communities.
In February, we announced U.S. Bank Access Commitment, which is focused on supporting businesses owned by people of color, helping individuals and communities of color advance economically, and enhancing career opportunities for employees and prospective employees. Our financial literacy work includes a partnership with Operation HOPE, a nonprofit organization that’s a leading global provider of financial dignity education and economic empowerment programs for low-to-moderate income youth, individuals and families.
Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, Taylor was fortunate to have parents who taught him about hard work and making sound financial decisions.
His dad worked two jobs, while his mother handled everything at home. Then tragically, when Taylor was seven, his father passed away. His mother took a new job, used life insurance money to buy a home and shouldered all of the family’s financial needs.
“My mom is amazing,” he said. “We struggled a little, but the bills were always paid, and we always ate.”
When he was in sixth grade, Taylor wrote an essay that gained him entry into Ohio State’s Young Scholars Program, which paid for his college. He graduated with a degree in financial management and real estate and became a banker.
Taylor, who joined U.S. Bank in 2019, is now relishing his chance to make a difference in the community. On a recent day, he had four virtual meetings scheduled with students across Columbus.
Taylor, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., has tapped his professional network, including his fraternity brothers, to help line up sessions. He also has worked with our nonprofit partners to set up his financial literacy seminars. Rudy Frias, supervisor of the teen after-school program at the Godman Guild Association in Columbus, said Taylor has been an asset to his program.
“It’s really difficult to connect and build a rapport with young people,” Frias said. “Doing that virtually over Zoom? Talk about having the deck stacked against you. Chris has so much energy and is such a genuine person he has immediately connected to our participants.”
The Godman Guild, which was a recipient last year of a U.S. Bank Foundation Rebuild and Transform Fund grant, focuses on youth and family education and workforce development. Taylor has covered topics from college scholarships to college loans to savings accounts, even drawing some of the parents into the seminars.
“It’s opened up an amazing dialogue,” Frias said.
More than a dozen people in various roles at U.S. Bank, from community affairs, financial education strategy, market leaders, customer experience and marketing were brought together the take Taylor’s idea from vision to reality. Taylor is focused on continuing to deliver programming, while also increasing opportunities for employees to volunteer in financial education.
Taylor said he has been inspired by the smiling faces he sees on Zoom calls and the ‘thank yous’ when class ends. He was particularly touched by one young student.
After class had ended, she told him she didn’t know how else she would have learned about financial literacy without a class like this, Taylor said. Then she added: “It feels especially good to have someone that looks like me teaching us about banking and money.”
Welsh said Taylor’s work is having a profound impact on students and their families.
“This is why we do what we do,” Welsh said. “I am so impressed by Chris’ passion and commitment to this work. He is a role model for all of us.”