Dress for Success Phoenix Awarded Fellowship to Expand Access to Banking Throughout Arizona

Dress for Success Phoenix Awarded Fellowship to Expand Access to Banking Throughout Arizona

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

Millions of Americans across the country are outside of the stabilizing financial mainstream, without a safe banking account to manage their money and build towards a stronger financial future. Across the country, Bank On coalitions work to connect residents to safe, affordable accounts – and Dress for Success Phoenix just received a new grant to supercharge these efforts. Dress for Success Phoenix and national nonprofit the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) announced Jessica Howell as Bank On Arizona’s Fellow for a two-year term to advance banking access efforts at scale, including through identifying opportunities to connect access to safe accounts to programs and payments. Bank On Arizona 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 movement is to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable financial products and services.

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.


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 $64 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 Dress for Success Phoenix

Dress for Success Phoenix has assisted over 22,000 women since opening its doors in 2009. The mission empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools needed to help women thrive in work and in life. Any woman referred by a community partner is eligible for free-of-charge programs and services. Dress for Success Phoenix is an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization and an affiliate of Dress for Success Worldwide. Funds are raised locally and have a direct impact in Arizona communities. dfsphoenix.org

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