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5E Observer

2018, Issue 2

Connecting People and Information to See the Big Picture


On any given day, our efforts to connect with the people of the Fifth Federal Reserve District are as far reaching and diverse as the communities we serve.

From building relationships and partnerships with leaders and organizations in our communities to educating about who we are and what we do, these connections allow us see the big picture of what’s happening across our District. This informs monetary policy, our research and other community development initiatives, and in turn, helps the Fed achieve its public service mission.

Connecting people with information about the Fed also provide opportunities to build awareness, trust and transparency of our role in the economy and how we connect to their everyday lives.

Connecting Through Valuable Relationships

Working with our board of directors and advisory groups, we form valuable relationships with business, education and community leaders that help expand our knowledge and perspectives. Our directors play a critical role in bringing diverse perspectives and providing information about economic conditions locally and in their respective industries, including business, labor, healthcare, education, non-profits and more.

At our Baltimore office, Regional Economist Sonya Waddell presents to over 90 community leaders about the opioid epidemic.

Our business and community relationships also provide us with opportunities to better understand emerging issues like early childhood education and affordable housing shortfalls, the impact of the opioid epidemic on the region’s workforce, and the problems facing small businesses and underserved communities. One of our advisory groups, our Community Investment Council (CIC), for example, is comprised of leaders from both rural and urban communities who understand the challenges to and opportunities for local economic growth. Get to know more about CIC through this video.

“A big part of the work CIC does with the Fed is in providing insight into the financial credit needs of underrepresented markets, low-income consumers and low-income communities who aren’t part of the financial mainstream,” explains Deborah McKetty, CIC chair and CEO of Community Works Carolina in Greenville, South Carolina. “We inform the Richmond Fed of what those needs are and how together we can more closely work through strategies and current partnerships with local banks to be able to provide access to credit to all markets.” 

The formal relationship between our Bank and our regional financial institutions includes many touchpoints, but it’s the informal gatherings like our annual Community Bankers Forum with more than 100 financial institutions that provide the greatest opportunities for sharing and learning. 

“The Forum allows us to share a broader perspective on supervision, payments, monetary policy, credit risk, and statistics and reserve accounts,” says Sean O’Hara, Financial Institution Outreach coordinator. “Each year many of us walk away with new connections and deeper insights on the challenges facing financial institutions in our District.”

Connecting Through Education and Conversation

Yearound, our Economic Education team and Fed Ambassadors hosts tours, activities and workshops to help community members better understand the Fed and their connection to the economy. In addition to information, publications and tools on our public website, one of our most popular resources is Invest in What’s Next — an interactive, online resource that helps students prepare for life after high school and has been used by more than 20,000 people nationwide.

Economic Education Specialist Yolanda Ferguson demonstrates an Invest in What’s Next classroom activity during a teacher workshop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Virginia teacher Dina J. Baber discovered the tool during a workshop we sponsored with VCU’s Center for Economic Education, and shared it with some of her students. The experience inspired several of them to action. “Each of them is investigating colleges and thinking more responsibly about their future,” she noted in a letter, adding, “the financial components of the program are especially interesting [to them].”

Our Bank also relies on a Teacher Collaborative Committee to provide input and feedback on Richmond Fed resources like Invest in What’s Next; help guide the Bank’s outreach efforts to teachers and students; and discuss best practices. The Committee consists of high school economics and personal finance teachers from the Richmond, VA, Baltimore, MD, and Charlotte, NC metro areas.

In addition, our “Conversations with the Fed” speakers’ series invites the public to discussions on special topics and issues affecting communities. Recent events centered on payments innovation and economic disparities in the Charlotte, N.C. area. Subject matter experts in our research, financial services and payments areas also routinely give speeches and presentations to a wide range of regional audiences. Regional economists Rick Kaglic, Andy Bauer and Sonya Waddell also regularly reach the public through media interviews  — sharing data, analysis and perspectives on employment conditions, business and helping make the connection between the regional and national economy.

Through valuable relationships, education and conversations, connecting people and information to see the big picture is what we do. It’s a two-way street, too — our Bank gains insights and perspectives to help us better understand what’s happening in the economy, and people across our District learn more about the Fed and how our work connects to their everyday lives.

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