Now in its fourth Wells Fargo Foundation-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 the Wells Fargo Foundation, 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. Dedicated local leadership is critical to moving beyond general education and literacy efforts and instead into identifying systemic integration points – from unemployment insurance to tax refunds to other program and payment streams – to connect unbanked people to safe, affordable accounts at scale.
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 Bank On National Account Standards define characteristics of a safe, affordable, and fully functional consumer account; accounts certified as meeting Bank On Standards are available at over 400 banks and credit unions across the country in over 46,000 branches, comprising 60% of the U.S. deposit market share.
“Banking access is foundational to financial stability,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “A safe, affordable, mainstream account is critical to helping people manage their money and improve their financial health. Bank On coalitions across the country connect people to safe accounts at scale, and a dedicated coalition leader will only supercharge this work. We are proud to partner with the Wells Fargo Foundation to support Dress for Success Phoenix and Bank On Arizona’s new full-time Fellow, Jessica Howell in helping Arizona residents connect to safe financial products.”
“Dress for Success Phoenix is thrilled to have Jessica on board as we launch Bank On Arizona across the state,” said Tamala McBath, CEO of Dress for Success Phoenix. “In our commitment to fostering economic empowerment, this initiative will play a pivotal role in providing vital financial resources to our communities. By bridging the gap and creating a pathway to economic independence, we will work to ensure a future where all consumers in our community have information about and access to the banking tools needed to reshape their financial destiny.”
As the director of community engagement, Howell brings a successful track record of working in the social services industry. Skilled in nonprofit organizations, coaching, communication, public speaking, and leadership development, her previous experience includes serving as the youth workforce director of job development for the Valley of the Sun YMCA and as a project director for the AARP Foundation. Howell possesses a B.S. in human services from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Education in human relations from Northern Arizona University.
“We’re excited to support the continuation of our partnership with CFE Fund and welcome our fourth cohort of Bank On Fellows to lead banking inclusion efforts in markets with high concentrations of unbanked households,” said Bonnie Wallace, head of Financial Health Philanthropy at Wells Fargo.