Arkansas Funders Network Announces Bank On Arkansas+


Arkansas Funders Network Announces Bank On Arkansas+

The Arkansas Asset Funders Network announced Tuesday the formation of Bank On Arkansas+, a partnership of financial institutions and community organizations that will promote accounts that are free or low-cost and have no to low opening deposit requirements and no overdraft fees.

The partnership will officially launch on Nov. 1 with an event at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Events that will highlight financial services and partners in specific communities are set for Nov. 2-3.

Bank On Arkansas+ is supported by sponsorships from Arvest, the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, Entergy Arkansas, First Security Bank, Iberiabank, Regions Bank and Southern Bancorp.

Currently, six financial institutions in Arkansas have nationally certified Bank On accounts: Bank of America, Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union, Iberiabank, Southern Bancorp, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

Other banks — Citizens Bank, First Community Bank, First Security Bank and Simmons Bank — are in the process of having their accounts certified.

According to a news release, one in 10 households in the state does not have a bank account. Of those that do, more than 22 percent rely on costly services to access their own money or cover monthly expenses like rent, utilities, food and medicine.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation says the No. 1 reason people do not have a bank account is that they believe they don't have enough money to open and maintain one, a concern that can be compounded by the fear of high and unpredictable fees, including overdraft fees, according to the release.

The partnership was formed because organizers realized those people fall victim to high-risk, costly financial situations that trap them in a cycle of debt, dependency and potential poverty.

"Iberiabank is proud to partner with Bank On Arkansas and support the goal of ensuring that everyone has access to safe and affordable financial products and services. Our communities can only be stronger by investing in resources that provide the opportunities for all to learn more about managing money," said Phillip Jett, president of central and northwest Arkansas for Iberiabank.

Nonprofit partners in communities will help their low- and moderate-income clients understand the new options and navigate opening accounts.

"Community action agencies seek to promote household stability and movement towards economic security among low- to moderate-income Arkansans, while also supporting positive community initiatives through strategic partnerships," Terry Bearden, interim COO for Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association Inc., said in the release. "The community action agencies in Arkansas will provide referrals to participating local financial institutions as part of their strategic approach to meeting local needs and promoting positive family and community outcomes."

Other partners will offer additional services, such as financial education and coaching, credit building, debt repair, micro-loans and small business development.

"Financial capability services are designed to help people solve issues, build relationships with financial institutions and grow their wealth," Alden Napier, executive director of Credit Counseling of Arkansas, said in the release. "We want to help the single mom who needs to save money on her car payments by improving her credit score. We want to help the college graduate create a plan for repaying his student loans as he begins his first job. It takes partnerships between financial institutions and financial capability providers to help our neighbors build a brighter financial future."

The network will continue to accept financial institutions, nonprofits and other organizations as partners. To request more information, contact Stephanie Matthews, director of Bank On Arkansas+, at stephanie@assetfunders.org.