Media Contact: Malcolm Wells

September 28th, 2019

The Association for Black Economic Power (ABEP) was founded by community members with the mission to transform local communities by equipping Black people with powerful economic tools and resources. Over the last two years, ABEP prioritized the work of opening the proposed credit union, Village Financial Cooperative and has operated behind that name. Establishing a Black-led financial institution is a vision from our community, where institutional economic power is a key to addressing the inequities we face in Minnesota. 

Working towards building a sustainable financial cooperative ecosystem with community, pledged members, and stakeholders demand a refusal to replicate models that harm Black life and joy. Upholding such values requires those in this work to constantly be in a state of reflection, internally and externally. We had to acknowledge a lack in leadership necessary to facilitate the principles of the mission and vision of the organization and make changes accordingly. 

In early August, workers within the organization provided the ABEP Board of Directors with information that presented organizational mismanagement, gross negligence, and misconduct of non-profit finances and the treatment of its workers. On August 20th 2019, the board decided to remove Me’lea Connelly from the position of Executive Director. We believe these changes were necessary to uphold our commitment to community, remain compliant with legal obligations, be transparent with supporters and funders, as well as provide a healthy work environment.

We know that every step we take with the intention of moving closer to Black economic liberation is vital, and cannot be done without transparency, humility, and accountability from the board. Too much collaborative work effort has gone into creating avenues for Black financial well-being in the Twin Cities. Throughout this process, the Board, Executive Committee, and staff remained steadfast in our commitment to advance the work of ABEP with integrity.

On Friday, October 18th we will be hosting a community forum at New Salem Baptist Church from 6:00-7:30pm. We invite all members of the community to attend, ask questions regarding recent changes, get further updates, meet the new leadership team of ABEP, and learn about next steps for the organization. We also invite any press inquiry regarding this matter to attend the forum. 

We thank you for all of your love, support, and commitment to the work. In the meantime, subscribe to our newsletter  & stay up-to-date on details regarding the forum.