Magazine article American Banker

Fleet Sponsors Borrower Education in D.C

Magazine article American Banker

Fleet Sponsors Borrower Education in D.C

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Hoping to help minorities become more sophisticated banking customers, Fleet Financial Group and a Boston-based community organization have teamed up with 30 Washington churches in a new educational initiative.

The Campaign for Economic Literacy, which' was developed in Boston by the Organization for a New Equality, hopes to reach 15,000 Washington minority group members in the next 10 months.

Equity Ownership

Through the program, the organization will distribute pamphlets in church bulletins, hold financial workshops, and help people establish relationships with area lenders.

"We are anxious that people not only be able to pay their bills but that they also own equity in American society," said A. Knighton Stanley, pastor of the Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ, one of the program's participants.

"We believe this will catch hold in Washington," he said, "and we certainly need economic development in this city."

The program is just one of a growing number throughout the country geared to improving the financial savvy of minority group members. As banks seek to increase their minority lending, they have looked increasingly for ways to broaden the pool of qualified borrowers, as well as reaching out to those who are already creditworthy.

Churches' Central Role

A pillar of many minority communities, churches have increasingly played a role in carrying out these programs.

The Rev. Charles Stith, national president of the Organization for a New Equality, has Spearheaded the new campaign. After seeing how successful activists have been in spurring minority and inner-city lending, he wanted to make sure the residents could take advantage of their opportunities, he said.

"The average white family in America has a net worth 10 times that of the average African-American family," Rev. …

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