The National Black Bank Foundation (NBBF) is adding some heavy hitters to its board.

According to Business Wire, NBBF is a racial justice nonprofit committed to ensuring the communities of color have access to capital in order to build wealth through the Black banking sector.

Just last week the board appointed King Center CEO Dr. Bernice A. King and actor Hill Harper to its board of dynamic leaders.

Harper and King will join a board of directors that includes ESPN analyst and Super Bowl XLIII winner Ryan Clark, National Bankers Association Chairman Robert James II, Aspen Institute Fellow Yolanda Daniel, and founder and CEO of Calliope Advisors Lauren McCann.

“Black banks help Black families escape the continuum of poverty by building real wealth, which is why the work of uplifting these community anchors is so urgent,” said NBBF Board Chair and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones. “We’re deeply honored that Dr. King and Hill have invested themselves in our mission.”

Today there are just 18 Black-owned banks across the United States, but in 1976 there were more than 50.

Reports indicate that in 2019 nearly half of Black households were either underbanked or completely unbanked in comparison to only 15 percent of white families.

Due to lack of access to essential financial services, Black Americans have relied heavily on costly alternatives like check-cashing services, payday loans, money orders, and prepaid credit cards. The fees alone from the services can add up to over $40,000 over a financial lifetime.

“It’s expensive to be Black and underbanked in the United States,” said Harper. “At $20,000, the net worth of the typical Black household in this country is half of what underbanked families waste on predatory banking alternatives. A vibrant Black banking sector is the first step of many in erasing this country’s racial wealth gap.”

Dr. Bernice A. King also shared in statement:

“It’s been more than fifty years since lenders were barred from discriminating against borrowers on the basis of race, but Black people are still denied mortgages at a rate 80 percent higher than white people. The NBBF is committed to correcting a legacy of discrimination in banking that still ruthlessly excludes Black, brown and indigenous people. This work—eradicating what my father called the inseparable twins of economic injustice and racial injustice—is vitally important, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

For more information on NBBF,  click here.