Florida residents without bank accounts are the target of a new initiative called Bank On Florida that is designed to increase financial literacy and help people navigate the sometimes intimidating complexities of banking.
The Florida Prosperity Partnership
launched Bank On Florida to bring together financial institutions and community partners throughout Tampa Bay to help residents access mainstream financial services and financial education.
"The whole idea behind Bank On Florida is to build on existing bank programs," says Bill Mills, director of strategic initiatives for Florida Prosperity Partnership. "We are trying to build the initiative on models used across the state. Most people [who don't currently have a bank] have lost a bank account due to bank fees. There are also people who have just never had a bank account. So if someone comes into Bank On Florida in Tampa Bay, that person will get financial education – learn how to use a bank account correctly. And then they'll be put with the correct financial institution, which varies. A credit union may make sense for them. It depends on how much they intend to keep in their account."
The program is based on successful models in about 100 cities around the country. Its goal is to increase financial stability by providing access to bank accounts and financial education, making it easier to save for the future, manage money and access credit and lower-interest loans.
A pilot Bank On program -- the first in Florida -- launched in St. Petersburg in August 2009 and has already opened more than 2,500 accounts, which made it the perfect place to launch the Bank On Florida program.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation [FDIC] estimates that more than 7 percent of Florida households are "unbanked,'' meaning no one in the household has any type of checking or savings account.
Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Bill Mills, Florida Prosperity Partnership