FINRA Foundation Awards 2022 Ketchum Prize to Cesar Escalante
University of Georgia Professor Recognized for Pioneering Research and Advocacy to Advance Financial Inclusion and Alleviate Racial and Gender Bias in Agricultural Lending
WASHINGTON—The FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) today awarded Cesar Escalante the 2022 Ketchum Prize—its highest honor—in recognition of his outstanding service and research to advance financial capability and inclusion in the U.S.
Escalante is a professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, where he has been on the faculty since 2001. A pioneer in the research of racial and gender biases in agricultural lending, Escalante has contributed significantly to racial and gender equity in credit access. He is also acclaimed for mentoring up-and-coming researchers of color.
“Professor Escalante’s rigorous and influential work related to equity in farm lending and his strong commitment to mentoring young scholars in the field of financial capability embody the ideals celebrated by the Ketchum Prize,” said FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh. “The experts serving on this year’s Ketchum Prize review committee were impressed by the combination of his scholarship and his ability to apply that scholarship in very practical ways to advance financial inclusion among underserved audiences. They noted, too, that his work holds particular importance for rural America, which experiences financial capability and financial vulnerability challenges that are often especially difficult to address.”
"I am truly honored to receive the Ketchum Prize from the FINRA Foundation,” Escalante said. “At the same time, I feel very much inspired by the realization that my tri-fold responsibility (in teaching, research and Cooperative Extension outreach) at our land-grant institution contributes to upholding financial inclusivity and improving financial capability among Americans. As my work continues to draw attention to the needs of those who are socially and financially disadvantaged in the farm sector, I can only hope that future reforms and efforts will not only safeguard principles of equity and fairness within and beyond farm lending, but also create many opportunities for minority business owners to operate more viable businesses that can thrive in highly competitive economies."
While working as a Cooperative Extension faculty specialist in the early 2000s, Escalante learned first-hand about the lending and credit experiences of Black, Hispanic, Native American and female farmers. During the ensuing years, he analyzed credit access constraints, allegations of lender bias and the repayment implications of lenders’ loan packaging decisions. His empirical studies helped raise awareness of the need for equitable and fair lending practices in serving the credit needs of socially and financially disadvantaged farmers. His work supplemented other efforts that ultimately led to important changes implemented at the Farm Service Agency to address strained borrower-lender relationships.
Escalante has extended his research to microfinance and tackled issues to improve credit delivery mechanisms aimed at helping poor households achieve greater financial sustainability and poverty alleviation in developing countries.
About the Ketchum Prize
The FINRA Foundation’s $10,000 Ketchum Prize honors FINRA’s former chairman and CEO Richard “Rick” Ketchum, who retired in 2016 following three decades of distinguished leadership in securities regulation. Ketchum also served as chairman of the FINRA Foundation and is a longtime advocate for helping families achieve economic well-being.
Following Ketchum’s retirement, the FINRA Board of Governors and the FINRA Foundation Board of Directors took steps to perpetuate his vision and achievements by endowing an annual cash prize to recognize researchers and educators who have made major and uncommon advances toward improving investor protection and financial capability in the United States.
Previous Ketchum Prize recipients include: First Nations Development Institute financial education consultant Shawn Spruce; University of Pennsylvania Professor Olivia S. Mitchell; Professor Annamaria Lusardi of the George Washington University’s Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center; Michael Morris of the National Disability Institute; and Professor Michael Collins, faculty director of the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The FINRA Foundation is now accepting nominations for the 2023 Ketchum Prize. Information is available at www.finrafoundation.org/awards.
About the FINRA Investor Education Foundation
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools to make sound financial decisions throughout life. For more information about FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit www.finrafoundation.org.
FINRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates one critical part of the securities industry—brokerage firms doing business with the public in the United States. FINRA, overseen by the SEC, writes rules, examines for and enforces compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws, registers broker-dealer personnel and offers them education and training, and informs the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers a dispute resolution forum for investors and brokerage firms and their registered employees. For more information, visit www.finra.org.