Expanding financial access through listening, learning, & partnership

Article

January 11, 2022  |  2 min read

By Chelsey Sleator, Senior Manager, Communications 

Alvin O., a Schwab Community Development Group member

To Alvin O., diversity is about vulnerability: admitting you may not know something and taking the time to listen and learn from the people around you about what makes them different. 

In his role within the Community Development Group (CDG) in Henderson, NV, Alvin brings together his own experiences, and information about his target clients to better understand how Schwab can better reach Black and Hispanic investors. 

To do this, he forms partnerships, like those he cultivates with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) and National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB, a group with a mostly Black membership), where he provides workshops to their members to enhance their financial lives. 

Being an advocate for diverse and underserved communities stems from early life experiences. 

Growing up, Alvin was a “military brat,” and moving every two or three years, he was exposed to a variety of cultures, educational styles, and environments. At age 10, living in the Azores (off the coast of Portugal), Alvin witnessed poverty in his backyard, literally. 

“We’d have families knock at our door, asking for a loaf of bread,” he says. “So, my mom would have a grocery bag of food by the door that we could give to these families, but seeing that and experiencing that at that age, it does something to you.” 

Alvin also credits his advocacy to taking the time to learn more about himself. 

“The ability to be around so many different cultures and get a diverse perspective is something I value about my upbringing,” he says. “It also drove me to get a better understanding of my own history and attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). I still hadn’t lived around Black people outside of my immediate family. Ironic as it sounds, in order for me to round out my diverse experience, I needed to attend an HBCU.” (Alvin’s a graduate of Florida A&M University and earned his master’s at Prairie View A&M University. Both are HBCUs.) 

Now in his role at Schwab, he informs his advocacy approach, in part, by being a member and ally of several Schwab Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). 

“The resources and teachings I’ve received from attending events through a variety of ERGs has kept me ingrained within the Schwab culture and has taught me that when people can be vulnerable, open up, and listen, a bigger community is formed,” explained Alvin. 

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This article is part of a series focused on employees of Charles Schwab Bank’s (CSB) Community Development Group (CDG). The CDG is focused on building financially strong communities and ensuring that Schwab meets its obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires regulated financial institutions to support the credit needs of the communities in which they do business, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. To learn more about CSB and the CDG, visit aboutschwab.com/our-communities.