United Way of Pueblo County Awarded Fellowship to Expand Banking Access in Pueblo County

BankOn Pueblo County

June, 29, 2021                                                                                                                                                   


Full-Time Bank On Fellow Will Lead Coalition of Government Leaders, Community Organizations, and Financial Institutions in Pueblo County to “Bank the Unbanked”

Pueblo, CO – United Way of Pueblo County and national nonprofit the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) announced Christapher Garcia as Pueblo County’s Bank On Fellow for a two-year term to advance banking access efforts. Pueblo County 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 32,500 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.

“United Way of Pueblo County is grateful to be able to house the Bank On Pueblo County Fellowship Program and be partners in this work to benefit the citizens of Pueblo County,” said Bianca Hicks, United Way of Pueblo County director of marketing, events, and initiatives. “United Way Worldwide has established focus areas of education, income/financial stability, and health as building blocks for a good quality of life and a strong community. Helping bring the Bank On Fellowship Program to our community creates an invaluable opportunity for us to provide a renewed focus on financial empowerment to address the growing numbers of under- and unbanked individuals and families in our community.”

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 Pueblo County and their new full-time Fellow Chris Garcia in helping Pueblo County residents connect to safe financial products.”

Chris is a Pueblo native bringing over 10 years of financial institution experience to the role of leading the Bank On Pueblo County coalition and program. "I am honored to be part of such an amazing opportunity for the community I love,” stated Chris. “After over a decade in banking and several years serving local nonprofits, having the opportunity to join the two together is really exciting. I know this community and have no doubt its local financial leaders will come together to make this project a success to help improve banking access and literacy to help people navigate these uncertain times. Much can be accomplished when our community joins together to address a critical need."

“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 United Way of Pueblo County
United Way of Pueblo County works to develop donor resources to improve the quality of life for the people of Pueblo County. Last year, the more than 55 different health and human programs funded by United Way provided over 188,000 units of service to those in need.  Over the past 98 years UWPC has raised $50,000,000 in campaign funds alone. To date, UWPC has provided $247,000 in support to 30 nonprofit organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to campaign fundraising, United Way also administers the El Pomar Community Problem Solving Fund, Emergency Food and Shelter Program, and operates the United Way Middle School Mentoring Program and Pueblo Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Visit UWPC’s website for more information, www.pueblounitedway.org  and like us on Facebook @unitedwayofpueblocounty and follow us on Instagram @unitedwaypueblo