The Consumer Federation of America, Bank of America Foundation and BET.com, an arm of Black Entertainment Television, are starting "Black America Saves" to help wage-earners pursue savings and investment plans.
The program will offer free financial planning advice and information.
"This may be the first generation of black Americans who are able to accumulate wealth," said Debra L. Lee, president of Black Entertainment Television. "The community just needs to focus on it more."
The Consumer Federation of America asked Ohio State University to analyze data from the Federal Reserve Board's 1998 Survey of Consumer Finances, which gathered data from more than 4,000 families. Catherine Montalto, professor of the Family Economics Department, computed net wealth by subtracting household debt from assets.
The report found that median household wealth among blacks grew 321 percent between 1989 and 1998, from $3,680 in 1989 to $15,500. However, that still was less than a quarter of the $71,700 accumulated by the typical American household.
Consumer Federation of America Director Stephen Brobeck said blacks have not taken full advantage of investment and savings opportunities, in part because their families have little historical experience with financial planning.
The report found 24 percent of black Americans said they spend more than their income, compared to 14 percent of all Americans. And 32 percent of black Americans say they do not save, compared to 23 percent of all Americans.