Bank-On Save-Up is a new program aimed at giving individuals and families access to bank accounts. It is part of a nationwide initiative aimed at helping underprivileged families build financial independence.
The project is being administered locally by a group called the St. Louis Unbanked Taskforce.
Co-chair of the group Jackie Hutchinson says that opening a bank account can be a first step toward financial security. “If people can begin to use mainstream financial services, they can build credit, they can buy a car, and move on to buy a house, and we see that as stabilizing in our community,” she says.
Alex Fennoy is co-chair of the St. Louis Regional Unbanked Task Force, which is administering the project.
He says that one of the goals of the program is to save money and disassociate from fringe services such as check cashing companies.
“If you are in a bank account, it’s about a $1200 annual savings. So we want people to have that in their pocket, and then to in turn start saving that.”
A 2011 FDIC study revealed that St. Louis ranks third highest in the country for unbanked African Americans.
The study also states that 10 percent of homes in the St. Louis metro area have never had a bank account.
18 financial institutions have signed on to participate so far, says Fennoy. Customers can also receive ongoing financial education from area nonprofits have the option to have accounts tailored to their needs, including “second chance” and low-balance checking accounts. Participation is open to individuals in the greater St. Louis region.
The program will debut on February 28 with a morning press conference at St. Louis Community College, and an evening gathering for families where people can sign up for accounts on-site. People interested in the project can call 1-888-STLUNBANKED or visit stlunbanked.org.