A 1934 map of Waco captures one of those patterns: redlining. Like cities all across the U.S., it shows the explicit recommendations where investments in certain neighborhoods would or should take place. In its shaded colors, it showed little to no investment was to take place in East Waco and areas of South Waco (Baylor excluded) while investments should be focused in the farther areas of North Waco, Lake Waco, and Lake Air.
While many of us are aware of “redlining,” this map of our city depicting these areas shows redlining in full effect. It was planned and supported by financial institutions; federal, state, and local governments; and loan and lending organizations.
Big, audacious goals will be needed to address such systemic fires that have been burning for years, and Waco now has a “blueprint” for improving financial security in Waco.
In the summer of 2020, amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund released the City of Waco’s Financial Empowerment Blueprint, which created six categories of focus to improve financial security of Wacoans, as well as an outline of initiatives designed to address the growing wealth gap. Prosper Waco will be following the recommendations of this Blueprint. New initiatives will be launched in 2021, and existing workforce initiatives like Upskill Waco will be expanded and brought to scale.
The phrase, “it takes a village,” describes the work ahead for Blueprint initiatives. Waco will need to come together and support these initiatives to ensure the financial security of all Wacoans -- particularly our Black and Hispanic residents. Redlining and other discriminatory practices presented a drain on our overall economy, but the Blueprint initiatives now give us a plan for building a new, more equitable economy - one that will present opportunities to all Wacoans.
In 2015, community meetings called for an increase in safe and affordable housing, financial literacy, equitable access to capital for minority-owned businesses, and local training to address shortages in “upskill” pathways for low-income workers.
In 2020, Prosper Waco adopted an enhanced equity focus, looking closely at historic and persisting disparities affecting workforce efforts and financial security for all Wacoans. The decisions made in our past have had long-lasting impacts on minority communities and have contributed to the still-growing Black/White wealth gap. New initiatives to ensure the financial security of Wacoans, including addressing the wealth gap, can be more effective by recognizing the patterns of underinvestment from the past.