ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The city of Allentown is launching a new program designed to teach financial literacy and create access to affordable banking.
Bank on Allentown is a partnership with banks and local non-profits.
"We already built our coalition, we already have our agenda," said Tatiana Tooley, the human relations manager for the city.
"There are folks that don't think they can ever dream of owning a home, that is possible, but the first step towards owning a home is having a bank account," Tooley said.
The model has been used in about 90 cities around the country. It is supported by the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund.
"I think a lot of people would be surprised of just how many people don't have a bank account," said Rep. Michael Sclossberg.
According to the national group Prosperity Now, 37% of households in Allentown are either under banked or have no bank account.
Marci Martinez-Howey is the Senior Director of Finance for United Way Lehigh Valley, a partner in the project. She says not only will the program create stability, but it will create equity. People of color are more likely to be under banked.
"It's also important to understand how's bank accounts work, how interest works, how to get a mortgage for a loan, how to save for retirement, and really most importantly how to trust," Martinez-Howey said.
"A lot of our parents don't trust the institution, they don't trust the process," Tooley said.
The program is expected to launch in the spring.