The following is a contributed article by Patty Juarez and Ruben Barrales.
Wells Fargo has reaffirmed its commitment to the Hispanic and Latino community with a $2 million donation to the Smithsonian Latino Center in support of the historic National Museum of the American Latino and the development of the Molina Family Latino Gallery. Wells Fargo is a corporate founder of the Latino Gallery and a founding donor of the National Museum of the American Latino, as well as the first financial institution to commit $2 million to the project.
Ever since the first Wells Fargo opened its doors for business in 1852, Hispanic and Latino employees have been a key part of our company. From the start, we hired Spanish-speaking employees who could serve the large population of people who had migrated from Mexico and Central and South America and had been living in California for decades before it became a U.S. state in 1850.
It is important for us to honor and capture the many contributions U.S. Hispanics and Latinos have made through arts and culture, science and technology, business, sports and activism. All of these have made America a stronger, better, more equitable and inclusive country. Moreover, it is incumbent on us to tell the story correctly.
We see the museum as an opportunity to reinforce that we celebrate the Latino community, and we look forward to being a part of this historic new chapter. But as historic as this point in time is, it is really about the future. We know that the Latino community in our country is growing in its significance and contributions.
Today, approximately one in five individuals in the United States identifies as Hispanic or Latino. The median family wealth of Hispanic households grew nearly three times faster than the average U.S. household in the last decade. From 2010-2019, two-thirds of U.S. labor force growth came from workers identifying as Hispanic. This community loves the American dream. They want to own a home, form a family, graduate from college, get a good-paying job and start creating wealth for future generations.
With help from Wells Fargo, the National Museum of the American Latino and the Molina Family Latino Gallery will honor the strides and contributions that we Hispanics and Latinos have made and continue to make in our country. Celebrating and understanding what we have achieved in the past will help guide us to an even prouder and more prosperous future. That is why it is important to support the building of the museum.
In fact, Wells Fargo was an early supporter of the idea of a Latino American museum, even before Congress authorized the project in December 2020. The Hispanic and Latino employee resource group led a conversation with senior leadership about the importance of supporting the museum. We worked closely with Eduardo Díaz, Director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, and Jennifer Pichardo, Senior Advancement Officer at the Smithsonian, to see what role Wells Fargo could play. The project is something we took personally within the organization so we could see our support of the museum become a reality.
Additional fundraising from individuals and corporations, as well as site-selection on the National Mall and development of the project, will take many years. In the meantime, the Molina Family Latino Gallery at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will open in 2022 as a preview of the eventual National Museum of the American Latino.
We are proud to support the Smithsonian Latino Center and we honor our Hispanic and Latino employees and customers with this commitment. Wells Fargo's success is tied to the success of the communities we serve. We want to meet the community's diverse financial needs so people can achieve and maintain financial prosperity, which leads to the creation of generational wealth. We continue to engage in initiatives that advance positive customer, community and workplace outcomes.
Many of our customers are Hispanic and Latino, and many of our branches are located in Latino neighborhoods where we serve them in Spanish. Even in these modern, mobile times we can still provide that in-person, in-language service that is so valuable and so important to the Latino community. We want to be there in whichever way they need us to be there for them. Our success as a bank is tied to us serving the communities that we live and work in. That includes the Hispanic and Latino community and many other diverse communities.
The Hispanic and Latino communities lead first-home purchases in the United States, and Wells Fargo is one of the leading banks helping them purchase those homes. In fact, overall our commitment to the Latino community has been growing faster than any other segment of our business. Through the end of 2020, Wells Fargo helped more than 188,000 Hispanic families become homeowners with $48.7 billion in financing. Additionally, we see growth in small business, middle market and corporate and investment banking opportunities in our market among Latino-owned and led businesses.
Our passion for our community comes from within. We both come from immigrant families who came to this country to pursue the American dream. Many of our colleagues have similar backgrounds, so we honor and support them by sharing our combined stories. The Hispanic and Latino community at Wells Fargo is the largest minority group at our company. We have more than 41,000 Hispanics and Latinos representing approximately 17% of Wells Fargo employees. And this group is growing. Those coming behind us are coming in with great force and great skills. Our job as leaders is to help usher the future generations behind us. We have a huge population in our company of Hispanic millennials and Gen Zers ? and younger. The fact that we have such fantastic and talented youth makes us want to work that much harder to ensure their future is that much brighter within our company.
Patty Juarez, is Wells Fargo's Executive Vice President & Head of Diverse Segments-Commercial Banking and has worked for the company since 1995.
Ruben Barrales is Wells Fargo's Senior Vice President, External Engagement, Diverse Segments, Representation and Inclusion and has worked for the company since 2019.