WASHINGTON (5/9/08)--A new project aimed at helping U.S. workers who are underserved by mainstream financial institutions was announced Wednesday by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Pew Safe Banking Opportunities Project is designed to help workers secure access to safe, affordable, fair and empowering bank and credit union accounts (PR Newswire May 7). The two-year, $2.1 million initiative will develop and promote standards for the accounts so that moderate-and low-income households that are new to, or have been left out of, the mainstream banking system are less likely to rely on overly expensive, income-stripping financial products. The project will develop standards for bank accounts, promote their voluntary adoption by credit unions and banks, and educate the public about the standards. It also will work with industry representatives, state and local governments, consumer advocates, and personal finance experts to develop and promote the standards. “The three core principles that will guide the development of the standards are clarity, consent and fairness,” said Shelley Hearne, managing director, Pew health and human services. “For too long, millions of households that lack a basic bank account have had to rely on expensive check-cashing establishments.” Credit unions and banks that adopt the standards will be eligible to use a logo that will help consumers know the product is safe.