Government, nonprofit and commercial partners announced today the launch of Bank On Allentown to advance banking access efforts throughout our region. Bank On Allentown will work to build residents’ financial stability by connecting them to safe and affordable banking products.
“Bank On Allentown will open-up a brand new world to our residents who don’t have banking services,” said Mayor Ray O’Connell. “For example, a checking account helps the consumer manage money and keep it safe. There is less need for large amounts of cash and the savings from paying fees at other institutions will start to add up. I want to thank all our partners for pulling together and offering this critical service to our residents.”
Banking access is critical to financial stability – a basic banking account is an important first step into the financial mainstream, depositing earnings securely, paying bills efficiently, accessing credit, and saving for emergencies and the future. According to Prosperity Now, 37% of households in Allentown are unbanked or underbanked, meaning they rely on costly alternative financial services - like check cashers, payday lenders, and pawns shops – for routine financial transactions. They are half as likely to be able to save for emergencies and being unbanked can cost more than $40,000 over a lifetime.
Bank On Allentown will work to expand access to appropriate financial products and services to residents outside of the mainstream financial system. The coalition is a partnership of the City of Allentown, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Financial Literacy Center, FDIC, People First, First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union and QNB Bank.
“Here in Allentown, as many as 60% of households are facing serious financial instability with no savings for an emergency. For our families to be strong, we need strong, financial solutions. We applaud all of the partners who are stepping up to bring Bank On to Allentown,” said Marci Martinez-Howey, Senior Director of Finance, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
"Now, more than ever, we need to equalize the playing field for Allentown residents,” said State Representative Mike Schlossberg. “Far too many of our citizens don't have access to the banking system. This keeps them locked out of safe financial transactions, building up good credit, and homeownership. This must change, and Bank on Allentown can help them get there."
Bank On Allentown joins nearly 90 local Bank On coalitions across the country. Their work is supported by the national nonprofit Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s (CFE Fund’s) national Bank On initiative, which works to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable bank and credit union accounts.
Stephanie Newell, Member Experience Manager for First Commonwealth's financial center in Downtown Allentown said, “When we were first invited to participate in Bank On Allentown over 2 years ago, we knew immediately it was something we wanted to be a part of! At First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union, it is our mission to offer financial happiness – trusted guidance, insights and education – and affordable banking products and services to all members of our community. We’re proud to partner with the City of Allentown and United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, helping to bring the Bank On Allentown Coalition to fruition and are committed to serving as a beloved partner in the financial journey of its members.”
“Tens of millions of people who can least afford it are spending billions of dollars to do what many of us do for free without even thinking about it – pay bills or make purchases, safely and automatically deposit and access our income, and save,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “We’re excited about what Bank On coalitions can accomplish and are proud to add our support to Bank On Allentown’s critical work helping people access safe, affordable accounts.”
The CFE Fund leads the national Bank On movement, supporting more than 90 local coalitions working to connect individuals and families – the over 63 million residents currently unbanked- or underbanked - to the financial mainstream through partnerships between local governments, financial institutions, and community organizations. Through the Bank On initiative, the CFE Fund provides resources and technical assistance to local coalitions, boosting their efforts to grow the availability of low-cost, low-fee bank and credit union accounts certified as meeting the Bank On National Account Standards and connect residents to these accounts. Core account features outlined in the Standards include low costs, no overdraft fees, robust transaction capabilities such as a debit or prepaid card, and online bill pay.
About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)
The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. For more information, please visit www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.
About Bank On
Bank On coalitions are locally-led partnerships between local public officials; city, state, and federal government agencies; financial institutions; and community organizations that work together to help improve the financial stability of unbanked and underbanked individuals and families in their communities. The Bank On national initiative builds on a grassroots movement of close to 90 coalitions in cities across the country, offering national account standards, capacity grant support, pilot funding, and a learning community. In addition to connecting unbanked individuals to accounts, Bank On programs raise public awareness, target outreach to the unbanked, and expand access to financial education. Visit www.cfefund.org/bankon for more information, or follow the conversation on Twitter @CFEfund #BankOn.