The Penny Savings Bank, founded by Reverend William Reuben Pettiford in Birmingham in 1890, was the first black-owned and black-operated financial institution in Alabama. The bank backed and encouraged development of black businesses, especially in urban areas, as well as savings by African Americans.
The Penny Savings Bank contributed in great part to the black ownership of homes, the building of churches and businesses, and teaching many African Americans in the city how to properly manage their financial resources, until its closing in 1915.
Identity-based giving is a concept familiar to the Black community, which has long pooled and redistributed its means to support its families, organizations and businesses on its own — using its available community assets to create what it needed. Today, empowering community philanthropists to leverage its available resources at every giving level creates the opportunity for us to strategically target the issues that affect us directly.
The global and regional issues in our community are many, and they are complex. You’ve seen them, and likely you’ve been affected firsthand — know someone who has been — by ongoing racism, violence, economic, health and educational disparities or gender-based discrimination. Community philanthropy provides an infrastructure and organized means to address these issues and create social change. Our approach is assets-based, drawing on a rich history of charitable giving in the Black community. To that end, The Penny Foundation’s roots, efforts and impact are locally managed, locally driven and locally accountable. We celebrate and respect our forebears who linked arms and used their places of worship, social savings clubs, benevolent funds and penny savings banks as organized instruments to support and grow our community from within. We stand on their shoulders.
A legacy is not only what you inherit; it’s what you leave behind for those to come.
Your gift can support the growth of future leaders and support community development.