PNC Financial Services Group said Thursday it will commit more than $1 billion to a broad range of programs that will help end systemic racism and provide economic empowerment to black individuals and communities.

Initiatives to be funded by the Downtown-based bank — one of the largest in the U.S. — include workforce development, financial education, affordable housing, revitalization of low-income neighborhoods and small business support.

“This is about much more than writing a check,” William Demchak, PNC’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

“We are living in one of the most important civil rights movements of our time,” he said. “Each of us has a role to play in [combating] racism and discrimination, and PNC is committed to driving real change in areas in which we can make the greatest impact.”

PNC’s reserves against bad loans skyrocket amid uncertain economy

The announcement comes in the wake of worldwide protests against police brutality following the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in the custody of police officers in Minneapolis.

In response, businesses, nonprofits, universities and other organizations are speaking out and issuing statements about plans to address diversity and inclusion in hiring practices, board representation and product marketing.

Quaker Oats, for instance, said it would drop the Aunt Jemima name and redesign the packaging on its iconic syrup and pancake-mix brand.

On Thursday, social media giant Facebook said it will commit $200 million to support black-owned businesses and nonprofits that serve black communities throughout the U.S.

The new funding builds on a $1.1 billion investment in black and other diverse suppliers and communities nationwide, Facebook said. The tech company will also offer free digital skills training in black and Latino communities over the next three years, and will launch a new space in the Facebook app called Lift Black Voices.

Many companies and organizations have designated Friday as a holiday to mark Juneteenth, which commemorates the date slavery ended in the U.S. — June 19, 1865. PNC will close all office and branch locations at 2 p.m. on Friday.

Inside the bank, Mr. Demchak said, “We are having more candid, transparent and quite frankly, more difficult conversations about the challenges facing our black colleagues and customers and what we must do to change that. We have a responsibility to act.”

Patricia Sabatini
PNC, other big banks set to close early Friday in nod to Juneteenth

Joyce Gannon: jgannon@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1580.

First Published June 18, 2020, 5:18pm