Business Access Advisor Has the Blueprints for Building Small Business Success

From a woman-owned construction company to a community-focused café, Delphine Pruitt is here to help Southern California businesses and communities flourish
May 15, 2024 9:30 AM ET

Originally published on U.S. Bank company blog

With more than 25 years of financial industry experience and acumen Delphine Pruitt knows, and is known by, just about everyone serving Black-owned businesses in Southern California. But, more importantly, she is trusted and respected by them too.

With a generous heart for helping others and an easy-going grace that helps her to move from community events to corporate boardroom without missing a beat, her efforts have garnered prominent recognition, including the recent honor of a Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from the Biden administration. The recognition is bestowed upon individuals who exemplify unwavering integrity, outstanding accomplishments, and exceptional contributions to serving the public good. She also received an honorary doctorate degree from Leaders Esteem Christian Bible University for her outstanding commitment to humanitarian causes throughout her career.

“The Lifetime Presidential Achievement Award is an incredible honor,” said Pruitt. “But what I know for sure is that being able to help small business owners achieve their dreams is the gift of a lifetime.”

In 2023, Pruitt joined U.S. Bank Chief Diversity Officer Greg Cummingham to accept a recognition from the Greater Los Angeles African American Chambers of Commerce, which honored U.S. Bank as the Banking and Financial Corporation of the Year, a relationship that Pruitt helped to nurture and strengthen.

“Delphine is helping people to pursue their dreams. She’s opened doors for U.S. Bank to provide support in our communities of color and has transformed the lives of countless individuals while propelling economic growth and amplifying voices in marginalized communities across the country,” said Cesar Hernandez, Business Access Advisor Leader in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Washington.

This small business month, U.S. Bank is celebrating the entrepreneurs who power small businesses across the country, and Pruitt and her peers the Business Access Advisors serve as important ambassadors of U.S. Bank Access Commitment®, the bank's long-term approach to help close the wealth gap for underserved communities, including communities of color, which launched in 2021, and expanded to include bilingual Business Access Advisors in 2024.

A typical week in the life of Pruitt provides a glimpse of the depth of her connections with clients across the community. First, she headed to downtown Los Angeles to visit U.S. Bank client O2EPCM, Inc. dba O2 Engineering, Projects & Construction Management, an award-winning company founded in 2016 by Omoné O. Livingston. While already a U.S. Bank client, Livingston didn't actually meet Pruitt until years later at a community event and they immediately hit it off.

“I met Delphine at a networking tea, and realized we have a lot in common. We both have a strong spiritual faith and prioritize giving back to the community,” said Livingston, who participates as a volunteer in many philanthropic initiatives, most notably acting as a mentor in several scholarship and internship programs benefiting women in STEM and youth from underserved communities. “The O2 in our business name are my initials, double ‘O,’ and O2 also represents Oxygen, a breath of fresh air our team brings to projects we are involved in, and Delphine does that too!”

Later, Pruitt heads to Leimert Park for a visit with longtime U.S. Bank client Anthony “Tony” Jolly, owner of several businesses with a vision for fostering and elevating the community in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles.

Pruitt recalls, “I met Tony at an event where he was speaking. Folks around town had told me all about the work he was doing to support the community, so I introduced myself and let him know I had been looking for him and that I was here to help him.”

Jolly reflects on that meeting and their subsequent working relationship by saying, “It was nice to be looked for, especially by a talented banker and ally like Delphine. She always answers my phone calls – on the first ring – I don’t know how she does that.”

Jolly is an active member of the nonprofit Black Owned and Operated Community Land Trust, which is working to welcome new jobs, economic opportunities, healthy foods, entertainment, creativity, and culture into the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, known as Black LA, a moniker showcasing the neighborhood’s nearly 80% Black population.

Jolly’s many businesses include the plant-based eatery ORA, which he created to provide healthy options and a community-driven cafe culture. Jolly is also creating new jobs through a workforce development program established by his coffee brand Crenshaw Coffee Co. His company’s coffee is sold online, at ORA, and at events through the Crenshaw Coffee Co. cart, which was recently a star contributor to the U.S. Bank Slauson and Crenshaw Branch block party celebrating the bank’s first Black Heritage Community Branch.

“I’m also helping to plan the upcoming Leimert Park Juneteenth celebration which will feature the best coffee, creativity, and culture that the Crenshaw District has to offer,” says Jolly. “Delphine plans on attending, and I will have a cup of decaf ready for her.”