The Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx are striving to keep addressing racial inequities in the Twin Cities with a new partnership focused on financial wellness.
On Wednesday, the two professional basketball franchises announced a multi-year partnership with Boston-based financial services technology company Stackwell to host financial literacy events and introduce people to the company's digital stock portfolio app, designed specifically to close the wealth gap for Black Americans.
The teams will provide a vehicle to promote the Stackwell brand during games and will use their practice facility at Mayo Clinic Square to host events in collaboration with employers, social justice organizations and community groups.
The partnership will be visible during the 2022 and 2023 NBA and WNBA seasons.
Ryan Tanke, chief operating officer for the Timberwolves and Lynx, said the partnership is an extension of what the teams have been doing the last several years, but grows amid a racial reckoning in the Twin Cities, and the nation, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020.
"We looked at the opportunity with Stackwell as another step forward," Tanke said. "While there's certainly been progress and we're proud of our efforts to be part of that conversation, there's still a lot of work to do be done."
Through the app, a person will answer a series of questions to assess their investment goals and financial objectives. After an analysis of those responses, the app will automatically communicate back an investment portfolio recommendation and strategy the user can accept. The user can also choose other investment options. From there, Stackwell will manage the person's stock portfolio.
The app also includes educational content for those new to stock investing. A person must be 18 or older to use the app.
An automated approach to stock portfolio management removes the anxiety of not knowing where to start, or which assets to invest in, a problem most Black people experience, Stackwell founder Trevor Rozier-Byrd said.
Rozier-Byrd, a former financial services analyst, has been a conscious observer of what's transpired in the Twin Cities since Floyd's murder, and views the metro as the epicenter of a social justice movement taking place in the U.S.
At $40,785, the median income for Black households in Minnesota in 2020 was about $35,000 lower than that of white households, according to a recent report published by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The report also shows one-third of the state's Black households had income below $25,000 that year.
The median income for Black households in the U.S. was $43,674 in 2020.
According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, at least 60% of U.S. adults in that income category report having no financial educational opportunities.
By leveraging the economic power of stock markets, Black Americans can build wealth to control things that matter in their lives, like housing, health care and education, Rozier-Byrd said.
"We believe the racial wealth gap is the social justice issue of our time," he said.
Stackwell has forged similar partnerships with the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards and the WNBA's Washington Mystics, Rozier-Byrd said.
In August, Stackwell raised $3.5 million from investors, including executives with the ownership groups of Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox and the NFL's New England Patriots.
That capital went toward the release of the company's app and other marketing costs, Rozier-Byrd said.