Bank on St. Petersburg - Approaches 2,000 new accounts.

Posted on 03/03/2013

Bank on St. Pete was my baby in 2009. The effort to bring mainstream banking and financial literacy to underserved neighborhoods has outgrown me! The project has become BANK ON TAMPA BAY and is reaching out to people on both sides of the bay. The United Way has assumed the lead role in this effort with consider resources and energy. It is gratifying to see an idea grow to serve our region.

My effort to bring the 18,300 households without banking services into the financial mainstream was announced at City Council on January 15th. We will be bringing a program from San Francisco that brought 24,000 households into mainstream banking services and away from the predatory check cashing and
payday loan businesses within 24 months.

This program potentially represents the single greatest thing that a local government can do to raise the standard of living of the 15% of our community that uses the loansharks and predatory cash checking services. Studies suggest that this segment of our community spend up to 5% of their income on
these ripoffs that we can help them avoid.

It will be a coalition of the City of St. Petersburg, the banks and the "wealth building coalition" that will bring these services to the community. The City's role is to make it happen, insure a good product
and get the word out. Ten other cities across the country are also bringing
this service.

UPDATE: Mayor Baker and Council Member Nurse have invited the banks and credit unions to meet on February 2nd in hopes of getting many of them to commit to this program. The offers to help are coming in everyday. The
final element needed to make this work is a financial literacy campaign so people learn to plan and budget their money.

UPDATE 2/18/09 Over 100 people filled a room at City Hall to kick-off the Bank on St. Petersburg program. 22 financial institutions were represented.
Committee will be meeting starting next week to work out the details of bringing this here. Getting the 15% of our community into the mainstream financial community can have more impact than any other program.

UPDATE 3/21/09 - I spent a day in Washington on the 15th with leaders from about 20 cities who are working on the Bank on .. projects. The goal is have the first cities teach the newer onces, like St. Pete, so we can learn from their experience. We are working through the details so we can implement this
quickly with as few problems as possible.

UPDATE 7/20/09 - August will be the launch of the Bank on St. Petersburg program. We have 15 banks and credit unions going through the final steps to
be ready to open their doors to more customers. Everyone wins with this program.

UPDATED Feb 2011
The program had brought 1,600 new customers into the mainstream banking system after the first year. The pace is picking up and financial education is being added to programs and in classrooms around town. Getting into the mainstream banking system is the first step into financial security. Thanks to the banks, credit unions, wealth building coalition, and other partners for helping this reach more people each day.


Bank on St. Petersburg has enrolled more than 2,00 new customers into the mainline banking system so far. A majority have also taken financial literacy training and have opened savings accounts. Many are laying the foundation for responsible home purchases.

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