Bank On Arkansas+ is an initiative to ensure that all Arkansans have access to safe, trusted, and affordable banking so they have the opportunity to save for themselves, build wealth for their families, and improve quality of life in their communities.

 

Too Many Arkansans are Unbanked and Underbanked

Families who do have bank accounts often live paycheck to paycheck, which limits their economic mobility. Without bank accounts, families are often forced to rely on predatory lenders or check cashing establishments to cover monthly expenses and basic necessities, like rent, electricity, utilities, food, and medicine—paying more for basic services.

When lower-income families have access to bank accounts, they are more likely to own assets than families of similar means without bank accounts.  Unfortunately, millions of families lacking access to mainstream financial services fall victim to high-risk, costly financial situations that trap them in a cycle of debt, dependency, and potential poverty.  According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, unbanked refers to a household in which no one has a checking or savings account. A household is categorized as underbanked if it had a checking or savings account and used one of the following products or services from an alternative financial services provider in the past 12 months: money orders, check cashing, international remittances, payday loans, refund anticipation loans, rent-to-own services, pawn shop loans, or auto title loans.

Mission of Bank On Arkansas+

To collaboratively support individuals and families as they create and meet their financial goals by:

  • Empowering people with knowledge and capability
  • Providing financial tools and services that are affordable, available, and responsive
  • Creating an environment that reduces and removes barriers to mainstream banking

Be Part of the Solution

The Bank On Arkansas+ initiative is a partnership among financial institutions, community organizations, grantmakers, and city, state, and federal government agencies that work to improve the financial stability of unbanked and underbanked residents in their communities. Join the Bank On Arkansas+ Coalition and work with other community leaders invested in the financial stability of Arkansas to meet the needs of the unbanked and underbanked. Financially empowered families lead to financially empowered communities where everyone in the state of Arkansas, not just the few, can set and achieve their financial goals.

Learn more: What is Bank On Arkansas+?

Bank On Arkansas+ is an initiative to ensure that all Arkansans, especially those in low- and moderate-income communities, have access to safe, trusted, and affordable banking so they have the opportunity to save for themselves, build wealth for their families, and improve quality of life in their communities.

When people don’t have an account at a financial institution, they are vulnerable to a number of financial threats: sky-high service fees from check-cashing services; predatory lenders and rent-to-own establishments can trap them in cycles of debt; and, because they operate on a cash basis, a loss, theft, or disaster can wipe them out.

This cycle of “barely scraping by” is not uncommon among the unbanked and underbanked community in Arkansas. According to the latest Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s survey, Arkansas has 9.7% unbanked households and 22.6% underbanked households.

A checking or savings account is a critical part of financial empowerment and economic mobility. With an account, people keep more of their hard-earned money. They build a relationship with a financial institution—essential for saving, borrowing, and long-term financial planning. When people are banked, they are in a position to build assets for themselves and their families and contribute to the overall health of the communities in which they live.

How did Bank On Arkansas+ start?

In response to the financial threats that the unbanked and underbanked face, cities and towns across the country have adopted the Bank On model. The model is housed at a national nonprofit organization—Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund—which helps support local coalition efforts to connect consumers to safe and affordable bank accounts. In Arkansas, the Arkansas Asset Funders Network recognized the benefits resulting from the Bank On model initiative and seeded the first-ever statewide Bank On Arkansas+ Coalition.

What is the Arkansas Asset Funders Network?

The Arkansas Asset Funders Network is a chapter of the national Asset Funders Network (AFN). AFN is a growing network of national, regional, and local based grantmakers interested in leveraging philanthropy to promote financial opportunity and security for low- and middle-income individuals and families. AR AFN, similar to other chapters, is focused on increasing the capacity of funders to effectively promote economic security by supporting efforts that help low- and moderate-income individuals and families build and protect assets.

AR AFN is creating opportunities for grantmakers to learn, connect with one another, and share best practices for investing in the economic security of families. AR AFN helps connect member grantmakers to the latest information about what works on the ground, common themes, and replicable strategies that successfully help families grow and protect assets and build financial security.

AR AFN organizes its work around four goals: (1) Educate – build knowledge and serve as a new information resource to grantmakers and the field; (2) Elevate – highlight evidence-based and promising practices, successful funder strategies, and research recommendations to inform funding for impact and bringing proven strategies to replication or scale; (3) Influence – engage funders and public and private stakeholders in frank discussions to foster needed changes in policy, support cross-silo integrations, and develop aligned, coordinated, or collaborative strategies; (4) Grow – increase the number of grantmakers investing resources that help low- and moderate-income individuals and families build and protect assets.

How can I get involved with Bank On Arkansas+ and the Asset Funders Network?

The key to meeting the goal of Bank On Arkansas+ are partnerships among municipal officials; city, state, and federal government agencies; financial institutions; and community organizations that work to improve the financial stability of unbanked and underbanked residents throughout the state.

If you represent a financial institution, grantmaking organization, government agency, a nonprofit, or other entity that is interested in the work of the Bank On Arkansas+ Coalition, please contact Stephanie Matthews, director of Bank On Arkansas+, for more information on how you can get involved (stephanie@assetfunders.org | 985-856-9878).

If you are interested in joining the Arkansas Asset Funders Network, please contact Abby Hughes Holsclaw, Senior Director, at abby@assetfunders.org.

What does a partnership with Bank On Arkansas+ look like?

There are several ways in which you can partner with the Bank On Arkansas+ initiative, including:

  1. Be a financial institution partner willing to create and/or offer an account that meets the Bank On National Account Standards.
  2. Serve as a Community Channel Partners, a trusted voice for low- and moderate-income individuals who are unbanked or underbanked. By coordinating with financial service providers and Community Channel Partners, Bank On Arkansas+ make it easier for low- and moderate-income individuals to access Bank On bank accounts. At the same time, Community Channel Partners are invaluable in disseminating information and education regarding banking opportunities to the community.
  3. Become a Bank On Arkansas+ “Plus” Partners Plus Partners with a statewide footprint that provide three functions:
  • Referrals – Plus Partners are willing “channel” partners, those that drive their clients to financial institutions with Bank On Arkansas+ accounts
  • Retention – Plus Partners are those that offer financial capability services focusing such as financial education, financial coaching, credit building, debt management, asset building, and/or small business development.
  • Research – Plus Partners are engaged in data collection and synthesis to inform coalition members on metrics related to target audience demand for financial products and services as well as outputs and outcomes of participating Bank On Arkansas+ clients.
  1.    Invest as a philanthropic organization or financial institution by supporting the Bank On Arkansas+ Coalition’s coordination and activities.


Stephanie Robichaux Matthews
Director, Bank On Arkansas+
(985) 856.9878
stephanie@assetfunders.org
bankonar.org