By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
JPMorgan Chase celebrated the grand opening of its first branch in Leesburg, Va. on Feb. 17, helping to satisfy the firm’s ongoing commitment to expanding its footprint in Northern Virginia. The financial institution now has three branches in Loudoun County, and by the end of 2023, it will have six.
During the grand opening, JPMorgan Chase also announced its partnership with More Than Peach, an inclusive art supplies brand created by 12-year-old Leesburg resident Bellen Woodard.
Through the collaboration, Woodard designed a coloring and activity book to help teach youth about money and finances.
“We want to make sure that we’re reaching out to our clients, helping them with their financial needs, through our team of experts,” said Angie Royster, JPMorgan Chase Northern Virginia market director.
“By adding more branches we’re really able to meet clients face-to-face through their biggest life events, whether it’s retirement, saving for their kids’ education or whatever that life event is, we want to be able to be there for them.”
In 2022, JPMorgan Chase announced that it would double its initial 2018 branch network commitment to open 140 banks throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. by 2025. Thirty percent of the branches will be located in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.
Throughout this network expansion, JPMorgan Chase is committed to hiring from the local community and has already created 80 jobs in Northern Virginia.
“We’ve seen different banks that have decided to exit traditional banking, and yet, Chase decides to open more branches. They decide to expand their footprint so we can still bring that traditional touch to people and be able to help them one-on-one with private and consumer banking,” said Hani Hussein, Leesburg branch manager.
“And, so we can have a strong relationship and be here for them when they truly need us. They can actually walk out of their homes, a block away and be in the heart of our branches.”
Because financial literacy is a primary concern for JPMorgan Chase, it chose to partner with Woodard, a crayon activist, to engage the youth around good money management.
Through More Than Peach, Woodward provides colored pencils for all skin colors and shades. Her multicultural pack features 12 colors named after natural landmarks, like the Serengeti and the Sahara, and she also has a rainbow pack featuring 24 colors.
The 12-year-old founded the business in 2019 after wondering why the peach-colored crayon was always referred to as the “skin-colored” crayon in school, despite there being an array of skin tones in the classroom and world around her.
“It was created so no kid feels disincluded, and so no one feels disincluded, so that everyone feels like they can represent themselves just as much as anyone else could,” said Woodard.
“I also wanted my voice to be heard, and I think it’s really important to teach kids how to use their voices because if there’s ever a problem in school and you feel confused about it, there’s probably someone else who’s feeling the same.”
Woodard attended the Leesburg branch grand opening with her family. She said she wanted to collaborate with JPMorgan Chase on the coloring book because it’s important for people to start saving and learn about financial health when they’re young.
The More than Peach x Chase Savings Plan coloring and activity book along with More Than Peach colored pencils are now available at the Leesburg branch and 13 JPMorgan Chase community branches across the country, including those in D.C. and West Baltimore.
“I think some people assume that I can’t be an industry leader, but I think I already am,” said Woodard. “I want to promote empathy, leadership and creativity because those are three really important things to me.”
Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.
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