UNITED WAY OF GREATER ROCHESTER AWARDED FELLOWSHIP TO EXPAND MONROE COUNTY BANKING ACCESS
Full-Time Bank On Fellow Will Lead Coalition of Government Leaders, Community Organizations, and Financial Institutions in Monroe County to “Bank the Unbanked”
June 29, 2021 – United Way of Greater Rochester and national nonprofit the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) announced Robert Arnold III as Greater Rochester’s Bank On Fellow for a two-year term to advance banking access efforts. Bank On Rochester is one of six Bank On coalitions across the country whose work will be supported by this cohort of the Bank On Fellows initiative. The goal of the national Bank On program is to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable financial products and services. The program’s national certification prescribes a safe, affordable, and fully functional consumer account, and is already offered by nearly 100 banks and credit unions across the country at over 32,5000 branches, comprising nearly 50% of the U.S. deposit market share. Nearly 90 local Bank On coalitions across the country, led by or working closely with local government, are working to expand access to these financial products to the over 36 million people outside of the mainstream financial system, through programming opportunities including stimulus payments, tax credits, unemployment insurance, and more.
Now in its third Wells Fargo-supported cohort, the national Bank On Fellowship Program provides funding to six Bank On coalitions to support a full-time staff position for two years — a “Fellow” — to lead coalition activities. Launched in 2017 with generous support from Wells Fargo, it is the first national initiative focused on building experienced banking access leaders across the country, equipping them with the training, tools, and resources to make significant advancements in local banking access efforts while at the same time generating best practices for other coalitions.
The CFE Fund leads the national Bank On movement, supporting local coalitions working to connect individuals and families to the financial mainstream through partnerships between local governments, financial institutions, and community organizations.
“The importance of a safe account for everyday financial needs—like receiving funds and paying bills—has never been clearer,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “Particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Bank On coalitions across the country have done critical work helping consumers access certified mainstream bank and credit union accounts to receive stimulus payments and other emergency supports, pay bills, and manage their finances. We know that dedicated staff leadership will supercharge coalition efforts. We are proud to partner with Wells Fargo to support Bank On Rochester and their new full-time Fellow, Robert Arnold III, in helping Monroe County residents connect to safe financial products.”
The Bank On Fellow will allow for a strategic single point of communication and collaboration to engage partners at every level of the banking access spectrum. Robert’s unique blend of community-based leadership experience in local nonprofits, as well as his service in the US Army, will allow him to act as a neutral and supportive resource working to and engaging with stakeholders, community partners, and residents.
“I am excited to join United Way of Greater Rochester as a Bank On Fellow to implement this program and support community members in working toward financial stability,” said Bank On Rochester Fellow Robert Arnold III. “The Bank On platform aligns with United Way’s mission to help individuals and families in Greater Rochester thrive with the financial, social, and personal assets to improve their economic mobility.”
“The high number of unbanked households is a complex and long-standing challenge and we want to help more people gain access to affordable, mainstream banking services, whether through Wells Fargo or another provider,” said Darlene Goins, head of Financial Health Philanthropy for Wells Fargo. “This year as part of our new Banking Inclusion Initiative, we’ll also be collaborating closely with CFE Fund and our Fellows to pilot new strategies and approaches that help reduce barriers to banking access in several markets with high concentrations of unbanked households.
Wells Fargo’s investment in the Bank On initiative also enables the CFE Fund to provide local coalitions with funding and technical assistance to boost their local efforts in expanding access to safe and affordable banking accounts that are certified as meeting the Bank On National Account Standards. The 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. The CFE Fund is currently working in over 100 cities and counties representing 75 million people, and has disbursed over $52 million to city governments and their partners to support these efforts. For more information, please visit www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.
About the United Way of Greater Rochester
United Way of Greater Rochester’s mission is to unite the good will and resources of the Greater Rochester community so that everyone can thrive. United Way mobilizes thousands of workplaces, tens of thousands of donors, thousands of volunteers, and hundreds of human service agencies in coordinated and critical action, to achieve what no one individual or organization can do alone. Please visit us online at uwrochester.org.