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  • October 02, 2018

$15K in Grant Funds Awarded to Coalition of African American Communities

Funds Will Support Nonprofit's Financial Literacy Programs and Workshops

GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI, October 2, 2018 — A $14,600 Partnership Grant Program (PGP) award from The First, A National Banking Association (The First), Community Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) will help the Coalition of African American Communities (COAAC) to expand its programs to reach more people by offsetting operational and administrative expenses related to business development classes and seminars. Local dignitaries joined bank and project representatives today to award the funds to the organization at a check presentation.

The mission of the organization is to strengthen relationships between residents and local financial institutions and help create sustainable communities through stimulating small business development, education, training and homeownership workshops.

"Financial and business literacy are critical skills, yet they can be a true challenge to acquire if one does not have the resources," said Mississippi State Representative Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-119. "I commend these banks' partnership with COAAC to support Gulfport entrepreneurs and economic development. I await the productive effect this should have on the growth of our communities."  

Established as The Amos Network following Hurricane Katrina, the nonprofit changed its name in 2014, as well as shifted its focus to financial literacy and small business training for low-income residents.

"We work to build relationships between the community and the banks. I act as a sort of liaison, and I've been able to identify some voids in those relationships," said Anthony Thompson, executive director of COAAC.

COAAC has primarily focused on Gulfport, Mississippi, but recently expanded outside the city to work with the small rural town of Utica, Mississippi. "The town had lost its only bank," Mr. Thompson said, "and we worked with them to attract a credit union. There's also no grocery store in town, so we'll be working on that, too."

This is the second PGP grant the organization has received in two years. "We are so appreciative of the funds," Mr. Thompson said. 'We're not a large organization. Some small groups go away when the funding goes away, but we're driven by passion."

Community Bank Senior Vice President Harry Piascik said the partnership aspect of the PGP is valuable for community engagement.

"Building strong relationships with the community is an important part of our bank's mission," said Mr. Piascik. "These funds will allow COAAC to provide more services and to continue its important work in the community."

Through the PGP, FHLB Dallas member institutions contribute $500 up to $4,000 to a community-based organization (CBO), which FHLB Dallas matches at a 3:1 ratio to provide the CBO up to $12,000 in grant money.

"Strengthening ties between local banks and our communities benefits us all," said Jerome Brown, senior vice president and director of Community Development at The First. "Our bank is thrilled to have played a role in awarding this grant to help this organization continue the valuable work they do."

In 2018, FHLB Dallas has awarded $300,000 in PGP funds through 31 member institutions to assist 32 community-based organizations. Combined with the $114,010 contributed by FHLB Dallas members, a total of $414,010 has been awarded to the organizations.

"Through a collective spirit of commitment and partnership, our members are positively impacting the communities in which they live and serve by participating in programs such as the PGP," said Greg Hettrick, first vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas.

About the First, A National Banking Association

The First, A National Banking Association, headquartered in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, began as a dream on a back porch in South Mississippi. A group of local businessmen talked about creating a bank that would take care of business by taking care of people one customer at a time... and The First was born. Now, that dream has grown from a back porch to cities and towns all over South Mississippi, South Alabama, and Louisiana. The First is more than a bank...because it is still a group of friends building relationships and taking care of business one customer at a time!  The First currently has 62 locations and assets exceeding $2.5 billion.

About Community Bank

Community Bank, a $2.9 billion-dollar bank, headquartered in Mississippi, has 47 offices in four states – Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, with eight of those being on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. With over 730 staff-owners, Community Bank takes pride in offering cutting-edge products and services from checking accounts and an in-house mortgage department to a full suite of business products. For more information, visit,

About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 11 district banks in the FHLBank System created by Congress in 1932. FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $75.9 billion as of June 30, 2018, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community investment by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to approximately 825 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas. For more information, visit

Contact Information:

Corporate Communications
Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas