News release from the City of Fort Wayne:
Mayor Henry launches Bank on Fort Wayne, champions access to financial services for all
City, Local Banks, Credit Unions, Community Groups Join Forces to Strengthen Fort Wayne’s Economic Base, Create Opportunity for Residents
(October 24, 2011) – In partnership with local banks, credit unions and community organizations, Mayor Tom Henry today announced the kick off of Bank On Fort Wayne. The new program will create opportunity for challenged, hardworking Fort Wayne residents by allowing them to open free or no-cost accounts at local financial institutions. Participants will also receive training to enhance their long-term economic independence.
Bank On Fort Wayne is founded on the success of similar programs in 40 other communities around the country. Mayor Henry brought the idea to Fort Wayne as another way to strengthen the area’s economy, promote workforce development and foster a healthy, attractive city for every citizen.
“Bank On Fort Wayne will give some of Fort Wayne’s hardest working residents the tools to keep more of the money they earn, save for the future, and establish relationships with local banks,” said Mayor Henry. “In turn, Bank On Fort Wayne will strengthen our economic foundation and ensure our city is attractive to the good jobs and businesses we need to thrive. Bank On Fort Wayne is an investment in the people of Fort Wayne, our community and our future.”
The Bank On model is based upon the premise that access to mainstream financial services is a building block toward economic stability and asset growth for all individuals and families. Residents who face bank barriers often find themselves using check-cashing or payday-loan services that typically have high-percentage transaction fees. Individuals in these circumstances can be either unbanked or underbanked. Based upon research data, as many as 33,000 Fort Wayne residents could be in this category.
Mayor Henry extols the Bank On program as one that can help low-income or working-class residents gain self-sufficiency. With a previously unattainable or underutilized credit union or bank account and information about financial management and available banking options, residents can establish long-lasting associations, build wealth, plan for the future and avoid expensive fees. A broad-base of financially stable, self-reliant citizens also improves the entire city and sustains a ready workforce.
A true public-private partnership, Bank On Fort Wayne enjoys the engagement of many local banks and credit unions, including: ProFed, Tower Bank, 3Rivers Federal Credit Union, Lake City Bank, Midwest America Federal Credit Union, Fifth Third Bank, PNC Bank, Markle Bank, Grabill Bank, 1st Source Bank, Old National Bank, First Federal Savings Bank of Huntington, and Fire Police City County Federal Credit Union.
“Standing together with the private sector, we are forging a vibrant community- strong and vital in all it parts, filled with possibilities for all our residents,” added Mayor Henry.
Bank On Fort Wayne is unique in the world of Bank-on programs. It is the only one in the nation that requires participants to enroll in educational workshops presented by community partners.
The initiative’s education collaborators are: Community Action of Northeast Indiana (CANI); Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Northeast Indiana, Inc.; Fifth Third Bank; Fort Wayne Urban League; Lutheran Social Services of Indiana; Pathfinder Community Connections; Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service; and the City of Fort Wayne Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services.
There are many benefits to residents optimizing their use of the Bank On Fort Wayne program. A resident can now keep what they earn and avoid check-cashing fees; maintain a safe place for their money, protecting it from theft or natural disaster; gain access to online banking and bill payment; form financial relationships for future loans; and more easily save money.
After applicants have completed the educational sessions, they will receive a certificate that they can take to the participating bank or credit union of their choice to open an account.
The following data substantiate the need for and value of the Bank On Fort Wayne program:
- According to estimates based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, infoUSA, and the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions, 24.1 percent of the residents in Indiana households are unbanked or underbanked, meaning they do not have a bank or credit union account or are underutilizing the accounts they do have.
- The Indiana Business Research Center cites that 13.4 percent of all households in the Fort Wayne metropolitan statistical area – which includes Allen, Wells and Whitley counties -are unbanked or underbanked.
- The Pew Charitable Trusts found in a 2008 survey that 89 percent of unbanked or underbanked American households are employed and earning some type of income. Only 11 percent are unemployed, which means most unbanked households have acceptable financial profiles for most banks – steady, full-time jobs. Still, the survey found that half of those eligible respondents have never had a checking account.
- During spring 2011, the Mayor’s staff collaborated with CANI, Aging and In-Home Service of Northeast Indiana, Inc. (AgingIHS) and the United Way of Allen County to develop the Financial Goals and Needs Survey. The survey – designed to gauge the banking practices and needs of low-to-moderate income city residents – gleaned responses from nearly 600 CANI and AgingIHS assistance applicants. The survey found that 70 percent of respondents felt they had little to no control over their financial situations, even though a majority of them reported having bank accounts.
Coordinated by the City of Fort Wayne, Bank On Fort Wayne is guided by a volunteer community steering committee composed of representatives from the partnering organizations.
In addition to the financial institutions, education providers and numerous community groups, Bank On Fort Wayne has also received the generous, pro-bono support of the Asher Agency in the design of program marketing materials.
Beginning October 31, 2011, information will be available online at.