United Way Launches Bank On Program

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By Rebecca Roscoe

 United Way of Central Kentucky, nine local financial institutions and several government leaders celebrated May 6 the founding of a new program, Bank On Central Kentucky, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at City Hall in Elizabethtown. 

Bank On is a partnership of financial institutions, community organizations, and local governments across Hardin, Breckinridge, Grayson, LaRue and Meade counties, according to the program’s advocate, Cole Whobrey.

According to Whobrey, the program was inspired by the creation of the Bank On San Francisco program that was implemented in 2006. 

“The program was created to promote the acceptance of alternate forms of identification to help unbanked and underbanked residents open and make use of bank accounts in the San Francisco, California area,” said Whobrey.

Underbanked individuals consist of those who have checking or savings accounts, yet who continue to make use of alternative financial services, like payday loans or check-cashing services; whereas unbanked individuals do not have a bank account.

Although the program in San Francisco ran under a different precedent, the Bank On Central Kentucky program was created under a similar concept – providing improved banking access. 

Chris Wilborn, director for UWCK, said the program will focus on helping individuals who do not have the means or credentials to open an account, by providing a fresh start through financial literacy education courses. 

“We envision a future where individuals will be self-sufficient and we seek to provide a safety net of programs to help them reach that goal. Implementing financial stability is an efficient way of preventing problems before they even begin,” said Wilborn. “Today we celebrate the first step towards creating a more stable, financially literate, community.”

Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker and Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall described the impact services will have on the community.

“According to the federal depository survey – over 20,000 households are considered to be unbanked, or underbanked in the state of Kentucky and this program can help alleviate that number,” said Duvall.

 “Over 20 organizations have come together to make the Bank On program possible … I encourage any organization private or public that wants to improve the financial situation of anyone to reach out to United Way of Central Kentucky,” said Walker.

Harry Berry, Hardin County judge/executive, said, as a former financial advisor, he understood the importance of implementing the Bank On program, as there are many out there who are not familiar with what financial options they have. 

“This is a great opportunity to help raise the education level on financial literacy,” said Berry.

Participating financial institutions include: The Cecilian Bank, First Citizens Bank, First Federal Savings Bank, Fort Knox Federal Credit Union, Lincoln National Bank, PNC Bank, South Central Bank, Republic Bank and Woodforest National Bank.

Community organizations include: Breckinridge-Grayson Head Start Program, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, Grayson County Alliance, Hardin County Family Resource and Youth Service Center, Head Start of Central Kentucky, Helping Hand of Hope, LaRue County Family Services, Feeding America, and Meade County Family Resource and Youth Service Center.

County extension offices will provide a Start Fresh class, through the Bank On program, that will cover the basics of banking and savings accounts. Once the course is completed, individuals will receive a certificate that allows access to a safe and affordable “second chance” account at a participating financial institution. 

Theresa Howard has agreed to teach the class by appointment at the LaRue County Cooperative Extension Office.  

For more information on the Bank On program visit www.unitedwayck.org/bankon.php or contact Cole Whobrey of United Way of Central Kentucky at 270-737-6608 or at cwhobrey@unitedwayck.org.