Initiative to Become Permanent City Program
(December 10, 2008 – San Francisco, CA) More than 130 people joined San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to celebrate the wrap-up of the highly successful Bank on San Francisco pilot program. Launched in September 2006, Bank on San Francisco has become a national model linking unbanked populations to mainstream financial institutions. Nearly 60 cities and states are currently working to replicate the program with their own “Bank On” campaigns.
With the leadership of the City of San Francisco and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the program brought together 17 credit unions and banks operating throughout the city, including two community development credit unions (CDCUs): Mission SF FCU and Northeast Community FCU. Other credit unions involved in the program included Patelco CU, a Federation Community Development Partner, along with Redwood CU, San Francisco FCU, and Spectrum CU.
| San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at the Pilot Wrap Celebration.
The participating credit unions and banks agreed to offer basic, no-fee accounts geared towards low-income and unbanked individuals, with the city underwriting the cost of promotional materials and advertisement for the program. United Way of the Bay Area, another major partner, donated its toll free 3-1-1 hotline to direct individuals to the nearest Bank on San Francisco institution.
In just two years, program partners opened 31,247 new accounts with previously unbanked consumers. More importantly, 80 percent of those accounts (24,714) remain open with average account balances of $980. Total annual savings for the newly banked individuals exceeds $19 million.
“Bank on San Francisco is now a national model,” declared San Francisco Mayor Newsom, “It showcases the unique partnership between community-based organizations, financial institutions, financial regulators, and local government – all working together to bring San Franciscans safe financial services. The savings to the community are tremendous.”
Newsom had his own breaking news; thanks to the success of pilot project, the Mayor announced that Bank on San Francisco will become a permanent program of the City of San Francisco.
CDCU Service to the Underserved Showcased
| Northeast Community FCU Member, Virginia Johnson.
Attendees at the celebration also had the opportunity to hear from Virginia Johnson, a 72-year-old, low-income San Francisco resident, who spent the majority of her life unbanked. Until recently, she spent nearly $200 per month in fees just to cash her Social Security checks, but thanks to advertising through the Bank on San Francisco campaign, Johnson’s caretaker, Roy Miller, learned about the program and decided to find out more.
In addition to the high fees Ms. Johnson was paying, Miller was concerned about the safety of the neighborhoods where the check cashers operate. He worried that Ms. Johnson or any of his other clients could be assaulted while leaving the check casher with their monthly benefits.
After contacting the toll-free number and learning about the Bank on San Francisco program, Miller decided to bring Johnson to the only financial institution serving San Francisco’s Tenderloin, a very low-income area of the city where most of his clients reside. That institution was Federation-member Northeast Community FCU, a CDCU with $8 million in assets that opened its Tenderloin branch in 1999.
Since connecting Ms. Johnson with Northeast Community FCU, Miller has gotten all his clients to do their banking at the CDCU. He encouraged other financial institutions working to serve the underserved to reach out to home care providers in low-income communities.
© 2008 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions