A group of northeast Iowa credit unions and local banks are taking up the unbanked mantle this week in a “Bank on Dubuque” venture promoted by the National League of Cities.
Under the initiative that kicked off Tuesday, the banks and CUs hope to offer low- and moderate-income residents free or low-cost checking accounts and access to free financial education.
“We do have a local coalition that has been working on this for about a year and the plan is to open 500 accounts,” said David Klavitter, senior vice president of marketing/public relations at the $941 million Dupaco Community CU. A major goal, Klavitter said, is to decrease the level of mistrust and apprehension non-banked residents hold for financial institutions.
When planning first began among the eight banks and CUs, Klavitter said, “We agreed to leave our differences at the door” to work on the venture, similar to some 35 other “Bank On” programs the National League of Cities is working with across the country.
Dubuque is the first Iowa city to participate. Other recent launches were in Detroit, Omaha and Marion, Ind.
The "Bank On DBQ" accounts require no minimum balance and “offer a second chance for people who have had previous trouble with banking.”
The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque said that according to FDIC records, Iowa has 4.7% unbanked and 16.8% underbanked households and using U.S. Census data, “this suggests about 1,000 unbanked households and 4,000 underbanked households in Dubuque.”
"An increasing number of people in our community cannot or are unable to save money and build wealth," said Nancy Van Milligen, executive director of the foundation. "Bank On Dubuque will immediately put more money in people's pockets, and teach them a sustainable way to manage money for the future.”
In addition to Dupaco, participants include Alliant CU, DuTrac Community CU and Health Services CU.