WASHINGTON (4/16/09)--Eight cities are encouraging low-income consumers to use financial institutions through a Bank on Cities campaign that will include credit unions and banks. The campaign, sponsored by the National League of Cities (NLC) in Washington, D.C., aims to help the 28 million unbanked and 44 million underbanked Americans--who lose $11 billion annually to payday loans (Nation Cities Weekly
April 13). NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) selected the cities to participate in a second phase of the campaign, which provides technical assistance for municipal leaders so they can connect low- and moderate-income families with mainstream financial services. The cities are:
* Bryan, Texas; * Denver; * Gaithersburg, Md.; * Indianapolis; * Louisville, Ky.; * Newark, N.J.; * Rapid City, S.D.; and * St. Petersburg, Fla.
Teams from each city will receive assistance from YEF Institute staff and will participate in monthly conference calls, Web seminars and cross-city meetings. Many Americans do not have a credit union or bank account, according to Clifford M. Johnson, YEF Institute executive director. “Because a city’s economic health depends on the financial security of its residents, cities have a lot to gain by partnering with banks and credit unions to expand financial opportunities for families, especially in these uncertain economic times,” he said. John Fischer, assistant director of economic development for the city of Louisville, was recently appointed to oversee the campaign. Fischer said he would like to have all Louisville credit unions and banks involved (The Courier-Journal
April 14). The campaign was inspired by a 2006 Bank on San Francisco initiative, which allowed financial institutions in the city to promote low-cost financial products. The program has helped residents open 16,000 accounts at financial institutions. In 2008, the first phase of Bank on Cities assisted 10 cities in developing initiatives to expand access to free and low-cost bank accounts and financial education.