Starting Monday, a Detroit-based bank is offering Detroiters a deal on opening a checking account as part of a broader effort to raise awareness about community needs and help address racial wealth disparities. 

Between Sept. 28 through Oct. 8, First Independence Bank, the only African American-owned bank headquartered in the state, is offering as many as 100 checking accounts with no first-month’s fee and with a complimentary $25 deposit. 

The effort is part of a campaign called “Detroit Is Us,” launched by TandemEd, a national consulting and multimedia company with locations in four cities including Detroit. The campaign’s goal is to celebrate and amplify the voices and needs of Black Detroiters, said Jason Rivers, managing director of services for TandemEd. Maurice Morton, a local entrepreneur, and TandemED are underwriting the associated costs and $25 deposit.

Since August 2019, TandemEd met with about 300 Detroiters in more than 30 focus groups to discuss their vision for the city and they came up with the name “Detroit Is Us.” Participants created pillars — recreation, wealth building, health and wellness and education — to accomplish their goal of uplifting the Black community in Detroit.  

“We advocate that (Detroiters) are absolutely the leaders of their spaces,” he said. “How do we mobilize resources around what those community members say is most important … to not only meet their needs but to thrive?” 

As part of the larger campaign, TandemEd aims to boost financial literacy and community wealth building in the city and support a historic Black-owned institution. Starting this month, Detroit Is Us will host virtual and in-person events including an education roundtable and mental health workshop.

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