Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, speaks about racial equality and the Texas economy

In 2018, JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon visited Brookhaven College to celebrate the bank’s $3 million gift to the Dallas County Promise, an initiative of the Commit Partnership and Dallas College to raise awareness of local students preparing for well-paying jobs.

He returned to Dallas Wednesday as part of a nationwide bus tour to meet customers and employees, with additional stops in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. As part of the trip, Dimon learned about the bank’s multimillion-dollar investment in the program, which has since grown well beyond Dallas County.

His itinerary included a stop at the Oak Cliff branch of the bank, where he discussed the investment with Todd Williams, CEO of Commit Partnership; Eric Ban, Managing Director of Economic Mobility Solutions and former Managing Director of Commit Partnership; Michael Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College; students involved in the program; and Chase executives.

Since its inception in 2017, Dallas County Promise has supported 90,000 high school seniors and the model has been replicated in 12 regions across Texas. The program provides academic and career counseling; Internships, internships and mentors; and scholarships for community colleges and four-year universities. The 2023 cohort will have about 25,000 students, more than double 2018’s 9,300 students.

“It means the world to me, it’s given me the opportunity to have an education I could only dream of when I was younger,” said Julio Ruiz, a first-generation college sophomore in his final semester of his finance major and Public Policy at Southern Methodist University. “Growing up, I knew I had the grades and the passion to do it; All I knew was that my family couldn’t afford it.”

He says he hopes to be a pilot.

Chase’s funding helped Dallas County Promise build a technology infrastructure that allows advisors and administrators to see real-time data and better track student progress, which Dimon found outstanding. He said that with a similar program the company is involved with in New York City, it was difficult to collect good student data and encouraged Williams to share some of the methods they are doing in Dallas.

“The bottom line is measurement,” Williams said. “If you don’t understand the challenges, you won’t make improvements.”

JPMorgan Chase has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in skills and professional development programs like the Dallas County Promise. It has also invested $30 billion in a racial justice initiative that includes Advancing Black Pathways, an attempt to support Black individuals, families and entrepreneurs through business opportunities, educational programs and various other initiatives.

The bank has 15,000 employees in Dallas-Fort Worth, up from just 4,000 in 2003. It has 30,000 employees in Texas, surpassing the 28,000 the company employs in New York.

At the Oak Cliff branch, Dimon sat down with reporters The Dallas Morning News, The Dallas Examiner and The Dallas Weekly to discuss racial justice initiatives and the Texas economy. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

How was Advancing Black Pathways successful and what are your future goals to continue along this path?

That’s how it started internally. We looked at all the diversity numbers and we did a very good job breeding Asian, Hispanic, LGBT but not a very good job breeding Black. So we created a separate effort, and when big companies do something separate, it actually works. We put people where that’s their only job by raising black CEOs and CEOs and they’ve gone up 50% or 60% since then, so it’s working. They start following everyone – are they on track, are they not on track, what do they need to do, and also retention, recruitment and stuff like that. Then we expanded that outside of the company and helped other black executives, entrepreneurs, etc. So it works. Time and effort and it works. And our people love it.

Chase’s partnerships and scholarships are focused on enhancing opportunities for students in the healthcare, IT and business fields. With COVID, the teacher shortage and other things coming to light as inequalities within our community, would you envision JPMorgan helping Chase train young people for other career options like education?

Everyone needs what I call program management, which is just like learning how to run things. It could be a service company – almost everyone needs cyber these days, big and big and small. So it’s everything the local community needs. Some communities have advanced manufacturing, equipment management, and the like. …Companies don’t typically hire teachers, so we could probably help less there than the system itself. But we go to the NYPD and ask them, ‘What do you need?’ And when we find what they need, we educate people out for them too.

Jamie Dimon (right), CEO of JPMorgan Chase, visits a branch in Oak Cliff, Dallas.
Jamie Dimon (right), CEO of JPMorgan Chase, visits a branch in Oak Cliff, Dallas.(Liesbeth Powers / Photographer)

How does D-FW fit into a possible recession? We weathered the 2008 recession fairly resiliently. Do you think it will be the same this time?

Our plans to grow here will not change at all whether there is a recession or not. I think Texas has done so well, there’s a good chance you’ll do a lot better when there’s a downturn, and do a lot better than most other parts (of the country). There will be parts of the country that will really suffer in a downturn. Texas is business friendly, education friendly, lower taxes. I mean, you guys are getting companies moving out of California, Illinois, that’s why. And I don’t think that will change.

What do you think about crypto?

Blockchain is real. Cryptocurrency, it’s a scam and you should stop writing so much about it.

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