It is tough to keep up with Mike Eggleston, literally. This avid runner and soccer coach manages many activities, among them leading a team of community development advisors across the seven states that are part of the Fed’s Eighth District.
Mike and his Community Partnerships and Investment team at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis engage with financial institutions, community organizations, and government entities that focus on overcoming barriers preventing people from fully participating in the economy.
An early service opportunity opens the door to a career
Growing up in suburban St. Louis, Mike said, he benefited from a safe community, good schools, and a stable and supportive family. But he knew that not everyone shared those experiences. “As an undergrad at Indiana University, I heard about this program where you could work in service for a year,” he said. Mike decided to apply.
After graduating from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Mike moved to Detroit as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), a nonprofit organization that prepares young leaders for service work in underserved communities. A component of the JVC program is being placed with a partner nonprofit agency. (JVC currently partners with more than 129 organizations in 30 communities across the country that support education, legal services, community development, and more.)
He credits Rob Dewaelsche, who was then the executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Detroit, for allowing him to work for the organization when his first placement during his Jesuit volunteer year didn’t work out.
“At Habitat for Humanity Detroit, I saw the preparation and determination of people to own their home, many for the first time. As a kid from the suburbs who studied business as an undergrad, this was the first time I learned about past discriminatory practices, such as redlining,” Mike explained. “It really opened my eyes to the community development field.”
Dedication unlocks potential
Through his experience working with Habitat, Mike dedicated himself to addressing social and economic disparities within his hometown of St. Louis. Prior to the Fed, his work primarily focused on affordable housing. “Working in affordable housing for both a nonprofit and then a bank, I developed a greater understanding of the public policies and financing available.”
In his role with the St. Louis Fed, Mike leads a team of advisors that works with stakeholders to understand economic conditions and capital flows in under-resourced communities, identify and share promising practices, and foster partnership-building among organizations.
“I am motivated by the untapped potential of people in our communities and the heroic efforts of individuals and organizations to unlock that potential,” Mike said.
One such organization is The Hub, developed by Tabernacle Community Development Corporation (Tabernacle CDC). “I have been inspired by how Tabernacle CDC, a relatively new organization led by Pastor Andre Alexander, has been able to coalesce partners and resources that a north St. Louis community desperately needed,” Mike said.
The Hub houses a bank branch, health clinic, community meeting space, and more of the amenities typically available in well-resourced communities. “I’m proud that through a convening of the St. Louis Fed, Pastor Andre was able to connect with funders, some of whom would later provide financing that transformed a vision into reality,” Mike said.
“I am motivated by the untapped potential of people in our communities and the heroic efforts of individuals and organizations to unlock that potential.”
Banking on everyone
Among the projects that Mike’s team oversees is the BankOn National Data Hub (BOND Hub). BankOn is a program aimed at bringing the more than 5 million people who rely on high-cost financial services into the financial mainstream. This is done through banks and credit unions offering checking accounts with flexible terms that are certified by the nonprofit Cities for Financial Empowerment.
“Financial security starts with having access to affordable financial products and services,” noted Mike. “A checking or savings account might seem basic, but it’s the building block that allows for checks to be direct deposited, bills to be paid online and much more.”
BOND Hub consists of account data voluntarily reported by financial institutions. Data analysis is shared via an annual report and an interactive dashboard, and the data is made publicly available.
Capacity builds relationships
Mike’s team has helped implement several initiatives to transform the flow of capital into underserved communities. His team leverages local relationships, research, and best practices to connect financial institutions, philanthropies, community organizations, and key partners to help invest in community projects.
Take, for example, the work of Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs. His team advises and facilitates several CDFI collaborative efforts throughout the Midwest and Southern states served by the St. Louis Fed. Later this year, Mike’s team will bring together these CDFI networks and coalitions in person for peer learning during a national conference in Washington DC.
Another focus of Mike’s team is attracting dollars to support economic development.
Mike helped develop the St. Louis Fed’s Community Investment Explorer 2.0, an interactive data tool that lets users see where some $3.2 trillion in community and economic capital investments has been invested from 2012 to 2020. “I’m grateful to hear how organizations and communities act on this information,” he noted. In Louisville, for instance, community leaders are using the Community Investment Explorer to spark conversations on boosting CDFI investments in the region. Leaders in that city have also established a CDFI network to foster greater collaboration.
“I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Mike said. “I can’t stress enough the importance of working with talented and dedicated colleagues at the St. Louis Fed and across the Federal Reserve System to help effect change in lower-income communities.”