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Carson Group is donating $500,000 to the AAAA Foundation to support initiatives at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (or HBCUs) and to help more African American students “forge successful careers” in the financial planning sector, the RIA firm said Wednesday.

“The financial planning profession’s reawakening to diversity and inclusion as a catalyst for innovation and sustainability invites economic advancement for all stakeholders,” said Lazetta Rainey Braxton, AAAA President and co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners, in a statement.

AAAA stands for the Association of African American Financial Advisors, a non-profit group founded by LeCount R. Davis, Sr., in the Baltimore area. In 1978, Davis became the first Black advisor to earn the Certified Financial Planner designation.

“We commend the Carson Group for its intentional focus on collaborating with a trusted organization whose volunteer leaders and constituents actively demonstrate the change we all seek in the financial planning profession,” Braxton added.

Speaking on what prompted the donation, Carson Group CEO Ron Carson said, “Over the past few weeks, I have been buoyed by the meaningful conversations happening within our industry and amongst our team at Carson to ask questions, listen intently and advance diversity in our firm and in our communities.”

With the “greater focus on equality and inclusion [today],” Carson added, “we are proud to partner with an organization that paves the way for the next generation of African Americans to make their mark in the financial planning profession.”

Four HBCUs with CFP-registered financial planning programs will receive funding through Carson Group’s gift to the AAAA Foundation, which has worked closely with program directors from Delaware State University, Clark Atlanta University, Prairie View A&M University and North Carolina A&T.

“The diversity gap in our industry is unacceptable,” according to Jamie Hopkins, managing director of Carson Coaching, in a statement. “We believe that there is no better time than now to push our industry forward through meaningful action.”

Black CFPs accounted for about 1,350  or 1.6%  of some 86,400 CFPs nationwide as of Dec. 31, 2019, according to the CFP Board, though African Americans represent some 13.4% of the broader U.S. population.

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