Initiative for unbanked Arkansans opens 4,000 accounts in year one

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 397 views 

Officials with a year-old banking option for underserved and unbanked Arkansans say they opened nearly 4,000 certified accounts thus far.

Bank On Arkansas+, a special project of the Arkansas Asset Funders Network, celebrated its one-year anniversary with an event Dec. 5 at Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock.

“We want all Arkansans to have the opportunity to save for themselves, build wealth for their families and improve quality of life in their communities,” said Kara Wilkins, director of Bank On Arkansas+. “We are energized by our progress. And with the continued support of our partners, we will continue to be an advocate for economic change — both in Arkansas and across the country.”

To date, Bank On Arkansas+ has partnered with more than 60 organizations, including nine financial institutions — Bank of America, Citizens Bank, Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union, First Security Bank, IberiaBank, Simmons Bank, Southern Bancorp, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

A statewide coalition of financial institutions, large corporations and community nonprofits are pooling their resources to sponsor the initiative, including Arvest Bank.

“More financial partners will be better for us,” said Alden Napier, executive director of Credit Counseling of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Napier is the co-chairman of the Bank On Arkansas+ steering committee. “And we’ve got to be able to offer more financial services capabilities in addition to accounts. Things like education, coaching around personal finances, more counseling services. We need more partners to engage to help us lower the barriers to mainstream financial services.”

Other sponsors are Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union, Entergy, First Security Bank, IberiaBank, Regions Bank, Southern Bancorp and U.S. Bank.