One Year Later: How Dallas’ Fintech in Action Used $1.7M to Become a Resource for National Black Talent

The coalition—dedicated to hiring, promoting, and retaining more Black professionals in fintech—has doubled its number of partners and participating firms and served more than 250 students from four cities just a year after forming.

Executive Director Michelle Williams leads the coalition from Dallas.

Fintech in Action Executive Director Michelle Williams [Courtesy photo]

Last year, while corporations across the country were forming DEI plans and stating missions of inclusion following public outcry over the death of George Floyd, the executives behind Dallas-based Apex Clearing and its parent company, PEAK6, realized they had to do more.

What resulted was Fintech in Action—a new initiative dedicated to advancing the hiring, promoting, and retaining of Black employees in the financial technology industry. Its founding goal was to accelerate progress, innovation, and opportunity for both students and professionals.

The coalition kickstarted with 18 financial firms, community stakeholders, and fintech organizations and a $1.7 million dollar investment from Apex. Their mission was to directly address the pipeline issues in financial services and financial technology.

From the start, the initiative was based in Dallas—spearheaded by Executive Director Michelle Williams, who previously held leadership positions at Voice of Hope, Leadership ISD, and The DEC Network.

One year later

Now, a year after launch, Fintech in Action (FIA) is celebrating its progress—while recognizing that there’s still work to be done.

As the name suggests, it’s an action-oriented coalition. FIA’s plan was to prioritize racial equity across the industry by increasing the inclusion of Black students and professionals and focusing on hiring, promotion, and retention.

The group sought out like-minded partners that could accelerate tangible progress, forming collaborations to take concrete steps to fight systemic racism and create Black equity in finance.

The organization says it has honored that commitment—and more.

“FIA has made incredible strides during its first year. Although we’ve witnessed growth, there is much work to do in creating economic equity for Black students and professionals in finance,” Williams said in a statement. “This is only the beginning.”

To date, Fintech in Action has doubled its number of partners and participating firms and served more than 250 students from four cities: Dallas, Houston, New York City, and Chicago. Current FIA partners and coalition members include Dallas-based GigWage, Indianapolis-based Givelify, Loop (run by Austin-based John Henry), and more.

The organization also invested $1 million in the Greenwood Project, a Chicago-based nonprofit that creates career pathways in financial services for high-achieving minority students.

The capital allowed the Greenwood Project to increase its internship cohort by 160 percent. All high school seniors who are part of the nonprofit are now in the midst of negotiating multiple full-time offers for employment.

It takes action

“There’s not a lack of talent in the Black community, but a lack of opportunity,” William Capuzzi, CEO of Apex Clearing, said in a statement. “Together, along with all of the other FIA coalition members, we’re investing in the future of what ought to be.”

Capuzzi says Apex wants to make its industry “one of inclusion for all those who choose to make it their livelihood.”

“It takes more than writing a check. More than a social media post. More than words—it takes action,” he said.

What’s next?

FIA says it’s the only coalition to date to achieve “considerable and measurable success” following the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. It considers the past year’s achievements as cementing its stake as a resource for Black talent across the industry.

From here, FIA plans to continue adding more members to expand its programs and initiatives. According to Williams, that includes finding support from financial firms, community stakeholders, and others that can drive systemic change.

The emphasis will be on more place-based partners—ones that can introduce internships, job placements, education, and exposure in fintech.

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