CFEF Blog ImageMIAMI-DADE – As part of Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jean Monestime’s prosperity agenda, the Chairman’s Council for Prosperity Initiatives is launching a major effort to help low-income working families build and preserve assets through access to banking and financial education.

Chairman Monestime is teaming up with the United Way of Miami-Dade, Branches Inc., and 12 local, national and international banking partners to launch Bank On Miami on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW 1st Street. Representatives from several banks and other organizations will provide financial coaching, information on opening a bank account, and free tax preparation from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the building’s lobby. A press conference will take place at 10 a.m. in the Press Room next to the Commission Chamber on the second floor. Chairman Monestime and his colleagues Commissioners Barbara J. Jordan and Daniella Levine Cava from the Chairman’s Council for Prosperity Initiatives will be joined at the press conference by the United Way, Branches Inc., the U.S. Treasury Department, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Community Financial Education Foundation, and representatives from participating banks who will be available for media interviews. In addition, a local resident will share a story about transitioning from predatory financial lenders to the financial mainstream.

Bank On Miami is an initiative that partners with financial institutions, government agencies and community organizations to reach unbanked and under banked residents who frequently use expensive, unnecessary and sometimes predatory financial services and connects them with financial coaching and safe, affordable and innovative financial products and solutions.

“This initiative will play a very important part in our efforts to close the income inequality gap by helping low-income people build credit and achieve financial security by becoming financially educated, gaining access to safe and affordable financial products and reducing their dependence on predatory financial products,” Chairman Monestime said.

The FDIC estimates that more than 8 percent of South Florida households are unbanked, and approximately 21 percent of households are underbanked. These residents, who tend to be low-income, rely on alternative financial services such as pawn shops, check cashing stores and payday lenders – which only exacerbate their financial situation. According to the Florida Prosperity Partnership, past financial mismanagement, fear and lack of understanding are among the reasons many residents are unbanked or underbanked.

Reducing the County’s income gap has been a focus of Chairman Monestime’s legislative and community partnership efforts since being elected Commission Chairman, when he set up the Council for Prosperity Initiatives to identify ways to expand economic opportunities.