An interview with Nancy Brown at Schwab Bank

We have been lucky to have Nancy Brown serve as the co-chair of advisory board. She is well-known throughout northern Nevada for the passion and creativity she brings to community development. She has helped in many ways over the past two years, most recently by connecting us to opportunities for outreach at the Reno Healthy Communities’ Family Health Festivals.

  • You work for Charles Schwab Bank. What is your role with the bank?

I’m the Director of Community Development for Charles Schwab Bank with a diverse banking background and over 37 years of experience.  I’m responsible for the Bank’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA*) community development activities within its assessment areas of Nevada and California.  I’m passionate about my work and work hard to collaborate to build an inclusive economy that provides opportunity for all to build assets needed to obtain financial security.  Focus areas include affordable housing, small business development, financial wellness and asset building.   

I serve on a number of community boards and committees:  United Way NN, Community Foundation of Western Nevada, Access to Health Care Network, Opportunity Alliance, Nevada Opportunity Business Fund, Reno Area Alliance for Homelessness, Truckee Meadows Healthy Communities and Financial Guidance Center.   Nationally I serve on the CFED Assets & Opportunity Leadership Council and the CSFI Financial Wellness Committee.   

  • What do banks have to do with affordable housing?

Investment and lending is one way for banks to meet CRA requirements. Since Schwab Bank is not a direct lender we partner with a number of strong Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Low Income Housing Tax Credit syndicators to deploy needed capital.  CDFIs help us to get our investment and lending dollars into the communities we serve.  Schwab Bank is also a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) allowing us to leverage their Affordable Housing Program (AHP) to support affordable housing development gap funding needs.  We also participate in the FHLB AHEAD grant program.  The FHLBSF AHEAD grant program was created to fund innovative economic development projects and housing initiatives.  This year Schwab Bank was pleased to support 6 AHEAD grant awards to our community development partners totaling $171,000 within the Schwab Bank assessment area.

  • Is there any way community organizations can be involved with CRA planning?

Charles Schwab Bank is one of a few banks in the country to have a CRA strategic plan.  A strategic plan involves a process that allows for community input in the plan.  The current Schwab Bank strategic plan has been vetted by the community and approved by our regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC). The approved plan period is from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018 and includes $1 billion in investment and lending commitment within the Bank’s CRA assessment areas.  We are happy to share a copy of this plan to anyone that has an interest.  You can contact me at or 775-689-6830 to obtain a copy.

  • What is on your wish list for Reno and Sparks as we go into this new growth period?

Enterprise** will be helping Northern Nevada build a road map to affordable housing. This is not just another study; it’s an action plan.  There is a lot of positive energy by groups and people that want to solve the affordable housing needs and they are eager to get to work.  This is the perfect time to create a road map to coordinate efforts, provide economies of scale and improve the provision of affordable housing. 

*CRA - An act of Congress enacted in 1977 with the intention of encouraging depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of surrounding communities (particularly low and moderate income neighborhoods). The CRA requires federal regulators to assess the record of each bank or thrift in helping to fulfill its obligations to the community. This record will then be used in evaluating applications for future approval of bank mergers, charters, acquisitions, branch openings and deposit facilities.

**Enterprise Community Partners, a housing organization with expertise in affordable housing.