Bank Black USA



San Francisco, CA

Tax-Exempt Status:



Financial Activism



Fiscal Sponsor:

Cowrie Initiative

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Bank Black USA advocates for increasing the number and influence of Black-owned financial institutions. The group claims that Black Americans are disadvantaged in access to banking services and in bank ownership, and that these disparities are the result of discrimination on a structural level in both the industry and in society as a whole. To address this alleged shortage, the group calls on individuals, businesses, and organizations to preference Black-owned financial institutions. The group also recruits financial institutions to become partners of the project. 1


Bank Black USA encourages consumers to buy stock in Black-owned banks, open bank accounts with them, and take out business loans from them. The group also provides information on Black-owned banks, especially ones that serve people with spotty financial histories, citing statistics that show that Black Americans are much more likely than white and Hispanic Americans to have bad credit scores. In addition, the group solicits direct support through donations. 2

Bank Black made headlines in 2017 for advocating for $500 million in new deposits into Black-owned banks by Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2018. HuffPost reported that the initiative was based on rapper Killer Mike’s investment in Black-owned banks the prior year in response to concerns about police brutality against Black Americans. 3

In March 2021, Bank Black issued a statement claiming that Black-owned businesses and organizations had not received a fair portion of federal COVID-19 relief funding due to alleged systemic discrimination. The group called for additional government programs to “level the playing field.” 4


Bank Black USA received the “Best Activism Website” at the 2022 Webby Awards, an initiative of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Members of the award selection panel included Nikole Hannah-Jones, the far-left race activist behind the 1619 Project and feminist activist Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern with whom President Bill Clinton had an affair. 5 6

Bank Black co-founder Stephone M. Coward III has appeared on the Forbes Next 1000 list for his work as an activist entrepreneur. 7


The fiscal sponsor of Bank Black USA is the COWRIE (Cooperative Wealth, Re-Investment, & Empowerment) Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promoted the project directly until December 2022 before “Bank Black USA” became an independent brand. 8

The left-of-center advocacy organization PolicyLink, which lobbies for higher government spending on entitlement programs and works to overturn election integrity measures, partners with Bank Black. Several higher education institutions, including the University of Michigan, the University of Kansas, and the North Carolina State University have also endorsed the program. 9

Several alumni of the fellowship program run by the Just Economy Institute, which advocates for wealth redistribution towards left-of-center causes through both government policies and private-sector initiatives, have gone on to work with Bank Black. 10


Christopher E. Williams is one of the seven co-founders of Bank Black USA. He describes himself as a “black-queer liberationist” who is “very active” in “queer organizations” and who prioritizes the interests of “black-queer people” in his work and activism. Williams previously participated in the fellowship program of the Just Economy Institute. 11

Stephone M. Coward II is one of the co-founders of Bank Black USA. He spent 17 years in the banking industry, where he used his position to advocate for prioritizing the interests of minority groups. Like his fellow founder Christopher E. Williams, Coward has participated in the Just Economy Institute fellowship program. 12 13  He also sits on the board of Impact Ventures, an investment firm which selects funding recipients on the basis of race, gender, or other perceived disadvantaged status. 14

Christopher LeFlore is one of the co-founders of Bank Black USA. He works as a special assistant to the president of the Kresge Foundation, a grantmaking organization that funds projects which oppose immigration enforcement and conventional fuel use, as well as campaigns which promote left-of-center racial ideology. 15


  1. [1]“Black communities have been plagued by injustice.” BankBlack. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  2. “How to bank Black depends on you.” BankBlack. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  3. Taryn Finley, “Black banks are in decline. This group wants to show how much they matter.” HuffPost. February 9, 2017. Accessed May 29, 2023.
  4. Chris LeFlore. “The Impact of COVID-19 on Black-Owned Businesses.” Bank Black USA. March 22, 2021. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  5. Robert Herring. “BankBlackUSA Honored For Best Activism Website In the 26th Annual Web Awards.” BankBlack. April 17, 2022. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  6. “Monica Lewinsky tweets ‘#MeToo.’” Fox News. October 18, 2017. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  7. “Stephone M. Coward II.” BankBlack. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  8. The Cowrie Initiative. Twitter. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  9. “Uniting for a greater impact.” BankBlack. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  10. [1]“Make Them Endure, Give Them Space.” Just Economy Institute. April 11, 2023. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  11. “Christopher E. Williams.” BankBlack. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  12. “Stephone M. Coward II.” BankBlack. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  13. “Christopher E. Williams.” BankBlack. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  14. “2022 Sponsorship Prospectus.” Impact Ventures. Accessed May 23, 2023.
  15. “Christopher LeFlore.” BankBlack. Accessed May 23, 2023.
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Bank Black USA

2919 23rd Street, Unit 2
San Francisco, CA