Family affair

Tackling economic inequality is a family affair for Michaeljohn Green | The next generation of dreamers

Growing up, what most inspired Michaeljohn Green was his family’s integrity and willingness to help humanity, the lessons he learned as an adult and in his career.

Green is vice president and director of community development at Dade County Federal Credit Union (DCFCU). There he helped create the RISE Miami-Dade Fund program, which has provided $20 million in low-interest loans to Black-owned small and micro businesses across the county since the pandemic began.

“I think I’m a combination of both my parents,” Green said. “My mom is constantly trying to figure out how she can make the world a better place and give back. She was a teacher for a while. She’s worked for a host of different nonprofits. And my dad is a great leader and professional finance.

Green’s own work has helped improve the quality of life and experience for countless Miamians.

“One of the great black leaders is Martin Luther King, and many of his last speeches were about the economic inequality that plagues all of America,” Green said. “There is a stark difference between the wealth of African Americans and the wealth of other families in America.”

michaeljohn green

Green’s resume is impressive. He graduated from Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Management. He played basketball at a few colleges before becoming passionate about community economic development. He has worked for many impressive organizations, such as the Bank of Montreal. And as he climbed the corporate ladder, he noticed fewer and fewer black and brown individuals around him.

“I was once the only African American or person of color in the office, but I think that’s slowly changing,” he said. “[But] there has certainly not been enough change. At the center of many black leaders [has been] to achieve a level of equality where not only are we treated the same as other individuals or races, but we also have the same amount of wealth, resources, and control over our own communities.

In 2020, Green was hired by DCFCU to lead the RISE program and lead community development activities. RISE launched in July 2020, when it was fully funded and began providing loans to local black, minority and women-owned small businesses.

The Miami-Dade Commissioners, through federal CARES Act stimulus funding, have provided millions to RISE, which so far has provided loans to 4,500 families and 900 businesses. To qualify, businesses must have no more than 50 employees, a minimum credit score of 520, and a maximum annual turnover of $5 million.

“There just isn’t a ton of data on black businesses in Miami-Dade,” Green said. “So we’re looking to try to capture that information so that we can continue to deliver a high quality service and really find the pain points that are preventing black and brown businesses from growing.”

Keith Lorren, owner of Spice King, a small business based in Opa-locka, tells the story of a local community business growing with support from RISE. He went from selling his spices in a few stores to showing them in several thousand Walmart stores across the country.

“He was able to take his business to the next level,” Green said. “There are hundreds if not thousands of stories like that.”

Green’s work continues to help pave the way for thousands more people to access new economic opportunities.

“I am a combination of both my parents,” he said. “My dad worked extremely hard to take care of his family and my mom made sure we understood the history of African Americans and Africans around the world. She made us realize that we have to give back and try to make the world a better place.

Kali-Ray Skinner is an NBCU Fellow at Florida International University.

Provide a lot of money to small businesses