Audioconference to Focus on Connecting Families to Mainstream Financial Services

Article excerpt

A free, hour-long audioconference will highlight city efforts to connect residents with free and low-cost bank accounts that help them keep more of their income. Sponsored by NLC's Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute), "Banking the Unbanked: City Partnerships to Connect Families with Mainstream Financial Services" will take place on Thursday, June 19 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Speakers on the call will discuss their cities' partnerships with banks and their aggressive outreach to encourage low-income residents to take advantage of these free or low-cost checking or savings accounts as an alternative to high-priced check cashing services. Ten cities participating in the YEF Institute's "Bank On Cities Campaign" are using these partnerships to help low-income families keep more of their income through an approach pioneered by municipal leaders in San Francisco.

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Speakers will include:

* Treasurer Jose Cisneros, City and County of San Francisco; and

* Garry Bliss, director of policy and legislative affairs, Office of the Mayor, City of Providence, R.I.

Additional speakers will be announced.

These speakers, who are involved in the Bank On Cities Campaign, will discuss how they are developing partnerships, securing buy-in from local banks and navigating product development, banking regulations, marketing, community outreach and evaluation. Speakers will also highlight the importance of strong leadership from local elected officials.

Scope of the Problem

Approximately 28 million Americans are "unbanked" (do not have bank accounts), and instead rely on check cashers and payday lenders for their financial transactions. Utilizing these high-cost services takes a large bite out of every paycheck. In addition, the lack of a bank account prevents residents from saving money and establishing credit. The inability to accumulate savings and other assets can leave them especially vulnerable to financial challenges caused by unemployment, illness or other crises.

Cities have a vested interest in helping residents become financially secure. …