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Akron, Ohio

City of Akron, in partnership with United Way, awarded $90,000 grant to launch Ohio’s first Bank On coalition

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City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of Ellen Lander Nischt, Press Secretary
Published: 11-01-2017

AKRON, Ohio – November 1, 2017 – The City of Akron, in partnership with United Way of Summit County, announced today that it has received a $90,000 grant from national nonprofit the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund). The grant will advance the city’s banking access efforts by funding the creation of a two-year fellowship position at United Way of Summit County tasked with launching and coordinating the efforts of a local Bank On coalition, Bank On Rubber City. This will be one of five such fellowships funded nationally; there are over 65 coalitions nationwide, but this will be the first in the State of Ohio.

The goal of CFE Fund’s Bank On program is to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable financial products and services. Local Bank On coalitions across the country, largely led by or working closely with local government, work to expand access to appropriate financial products and services to the over 65 million people outside of the mainstream financial system who rely on alternative, costly financial services. 

According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development, 13 percent of Akron households are “unbanked” – nearly twice the national average. Without a checking or savings account, these families often pay too much for basic financial transactions. The average full-time worker without a bank account can spend $40,000 over the course of their lifetime just to cash checks. Another 20.5 percent of Akron households are “underbanked,” meaning they make use of fringe, often costly, financial services.

 

“The long-term success of our community depends on maintaining a strong urban core, with a growing economy and a healthy, stable population.  But, we cannot achieve progress as a city if our residents lack access to healthy financial relationships,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said.  “We are grateful for the partnership of the United Way of Summit County, in recognizing that hardworking Akron households deserve better opportunities to increase their financial knowledge, independence, and health.  This Bank On coalition grant will catalyze financial freedom—by equipping us with the manpower, training, tools, and resources we need to empower residents and improve lives.”

Earlier this year, United Way of Summit County announced four Bold Goals that will guide its impact work over the coming years. For its Bold Goal #3, United Way is working to financially empower 11,000 Akron residents, especially those who are working, but who are struggling to get traction financially. Bank On Rubber City will form a critical part of United Way’s strategic plan to meet this goal.                                                                

“The overall health of our local economy depends on the financial wellbeing of thousands of individual families,” says Jim Mullen, president and CEO of United Way of Summit County. “Yet 57 percent of Akron households earn less than Ohio’s basic cost of living. Providing those families with the resources they need to build stable lives, budget effectively and save for their children’s futures is a vital investment in the long-term prosperity of Summit County.”

The CFE Fund leads the national Bank On movement, supporting city coalitions working to connect individuals and families to the financial mainstream through partnerships between local governments, financial institutions and community organizations.

The national Bank On Fellowship Program provides funding to five Bank On coalitions to support a full-time staff position for two years — a “fellow” — to lead coalition activities. It is the first national initiative focused on building a multi-city cohort of successful Bank On program coordinators, equipping them with the resources and tools needed to make significant advancements in local banking access efforts while at the same time generating best practices for other coalitions around the country. The Bank On Fellows initiative is part of Wells Fargo's $1 million investment to support the national Bank On movement.

“For millions of adults, meeting basic financial needs—like paying bills or depositing and using their paychecks—is a costly struggle,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “Bank On coalitions across the country do critical work helping consumers access safe, affordable accounts, but often lack vital resources like staff leadership. We are proud to support Bank On Rubber City and their new fellow, Nicole Chavers, in helping Akron residents connect to safe financial products.”

“Strengthening the economic viability of our communities is one of Wells Fargo’s corporate social responsibility priorities,” said Shelley Marquez, Wells Fargo Senior Vice President and Community Relations Senior Manager. “We believe it’s important to focus on creating long-term solutions to the obstacles that keep many people out of the financial mainstream and are proud to sponsor the Bank On Fellowship program, which will allow coalitions to devote full-time resources to this critical work.”

Wells Fargo’s investment in the Bank On initiative also supports additional CFE Fund resources to local coalitions, boosting its efforts to expand access to safe and affordable financial products and services.  The CFE Fund provides funding and technical assistance to help coalitions improve availability of appropriate low-cost, low-fee transactional bank accounts that are certified as meeting the Bank On National Account Standards.

The Bank On National Account Standards identify critical product features for appropriate bank or credit union accounts, making it easier for local coalitions across the country to connect consumers to accounts that meet their needs. Core account features 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 Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 8,400 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 42 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 268,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 25 on Fortune’s 2017 rankings of America’s largest corporations. The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Wells Fargo No. 3 on its most recent list of the top corporate cash philanthropists. In 2016, Wells Fargo donated $281.3 million to 14,900 nonprofits and Wells Fargo team members volunteered 1.73 million hours with 50,000 nonprofits. Wells Fargo’s corporate social responsibility efforts are focused on three priorities: economic empowerment in underserved communities, environmental sustainability, and advancing diversity and social inclusion. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

About United Way of Summit County
United Way of Summit County takes on the issues that matter most to children and families in Greater Akron. We pursue Bold Goals through forward-thinking strategies, innovative programs and hands-on work in our community. We team up with private and public leaders, local businesses and thousands of volunteers from across our community to create change that matters. Together, we are hand raisers. Game changers. Because there’s a better future in store for Greater Akron, and the time is now to make it happen. Learn more at uwsummit.org.

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For further information, contact:
Ellen Lander Nischt
Press Secretary / Assistant Director of Law
166 South High Street
Suite 200
Phone: 3303752325
E-mail: ELander@akronohio.gov

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