The Bank On financial literacy program, available in the Treasure Valley since 2013, will soon be available in northern Idaho as well.
The program provides people with a series of free classes on subjects such as banking basics, building credit, reducing debt, and creating emergency savings, said Keri Stark, director of community impact for United Way of North Idaho, in Coeur d’Alene, which is coordinating the program. It is being publicly launched in June, along with a four-session pilot program in April connected with the mental health court, she said.
Participating financial institutions include Idaho Independent Bank, Inland Northwest Bank, Mountain West Bank, Potlatch First Federal Credit Union, US Bank, Washington Trust, and Wells Fargo, Stark said. In addition, Northwest Bank, a commercial lender, is participating by contributing meeting space, she said.
Nearly 40 percent of people in the five northern Idaho counties are having trouble making ends meet, Stark said. The intended audience is ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – also known as “working poor.” People in that category may technically be above the federal poverty threshold, but keep having financial crises, she said. “There’s not a line item for savings in a bare minimum budget,” she said. “So many of them are living paycheck to paycheck.”
In addition to Bank On Treasure Valley, the northern Idaho program also worked with Bank On Spokane, Stark said. “It moves a person along the line from crisis to long-term wealth creation,” she said.