Home Madison BMO Harris Bank announces multi-year pledge to three Black-led orgs in Madison

BMO Harris Bank announces multi-year pledge to three Black-led orgs in Madison


BMO Harris Bank announced today that it would donate $650,000 over five years to the Center for Black Excellence and Culture, the Urban League of Greater Madison’s Black Business Hub and the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County’s McKenzie Regional Workforce Center.

“When you look at these three organizations, they are addressing what we feel is a real need in Madison,” BMO Wisconsin regional president Anthony Hudson said in an interview with Madison365. “These are three organizations (and their) leaders that have a proven track record of delivering quality results. In our minds, there aren’t three better projects to invest in.”

Anthony Hudson

The Black Business Hub, currently under construction at the corner of South Park and Hughes Place on Madison’s South Side, is expected to open in 2023 as the headquarters for a number of Black-owned businesses as well as the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

The Center for Black Excellence and Culture is also slated to open next year next to Fountain of Life Church on Badger Road.    

Hudson said the Center for Black Excellence and Culture and the Black Business Hub would both receive $50,000 per year for five years, and the McKenzie Regional Workforce Development Center would receive $50,000 per year for three years.

“These organizations are raising funds just to be able to put shovels in the ground, but then get to the point where the buildings are constructed, and they need support for programs,” Hudson said. “And then it’s how we are able to ensure that they’re successful in those early years, that allow us to continue these conversations well into the future and have the appropriate outcomes to support future investments.”

The donations come as part of BMO Harris Bank’s EMPower program, an investment of $5 billion over five years announced in 2020. Hudson said $3.6 billion has already been deployed in the form of mortgage loans for Black and brown families, business loans for Black and brown owned businesses and philanthropy aimed at supporting organizations that serve communities of color.

“In its simplest form, we want more Black business owners and we want to create more jobs,” Hudson said. “We’re really excited. This isn’t a space where we want to be territorial or box anyone out. We’re actually hoping that this support can get the attention of our other corporate partners in this community to rally around these three organizations and help all three projects be successful.”

“The Urban League of Greater Madison is enormously proud of the partnership that we have with BMO in creating greater access to opportunities in the banking industry,” Urban League of Greater Madison CEO Ruben Anthony said in a statement. “As we are on a mission to help build wealth for Brown and Black people in this community, BMO is right there with us, supporting initiatives such as the development of the Black Business Hub. This project and partnership we will create wealth for multiple generations.”

“The Center for Black Excellence and Culture offers an exciting and important opportunity to create a cultural home for the Black community in Madison. This important investment in The Center demonstrates BMO’s support in making the Madison community a welcoming, culturally rich home where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. We are grateful for BMO’s leadership and commitment to The Center,” Center for Black Excellence and Culture founder Dr. Alex Gee said in a statement.

“Recently, we took on an initiative to build a skilled trades center that will offer the youth in our community another pathway to success and BMO was one of the first supporters to join our cause. Their team members are helping us build out a $35 million youth work force center by providing volunteers, funding, and guidance to help us achieve this historic goal, which will ultimately improve the labor shortage and racial disparities we see in our region,” Boys and Girls Club of Dane County CEO Michael Johnson said in a statement.