Daily Dupaco

Monday, July 25, 2011

Banks, credit unions unite to help unbanked Dubuque residents save

A new coalition of banks, credit unions and community groups have organized to improve the financial futures of Dubuque residents who lack traditional checking accounts.

The initiative, called "Bank On Dubuque" (Bank On DBQ), offers low- and moderate-income residents free or low-cost checking accounts and access to free financial education.

A bank or credit union account can help residents avoid costly alternative financial services. This enables families to protect and build their assets.

The "Bank On DBQ" accounts require no minimum balance and offer a second chance for people who have had previous trouble with banking. Fraud is the exception. Account features include:

  • No or low opening deposits, monthly maintenance fees or minimum balances;
  • Direct deposit of paychecks or monthly benefit checks;
  • Free ATM/debit cards; and
  • Access to online banking, bill pay and money transfers.

Participants of "Bank On DBQ" also have access to financial education, including learning how to budget, paying bills on time, or saving for a car or their first home.

Formed in 2010, "Bank On DBQ" is based on a national model called the "Bank On Cities Campaign," sponsored by the National League of Cities. The program grew out of an earlier technical assistance project that helped municipal officials build a comprehensive asset-building agenda.

"Bank On DBQ" is the first such program in Iowa. Eight participating financial institutions are directly funding the effort, with in-kind operational support from the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

The National League of Cities estimates approximately 28 million unbanked and 44 million underbanked Americans lose $11 billion each year to check cashers, payday loan outlets and pawnshops.

According to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. report, the state of Iowa has 4.7% unbanked and 16.8% underbanked households. The U.S. Census counted 22,560 households in the city of Dubuque. This suggests about 1,000 unbanked households and 4,000 underbanked households in Dubuque.

The program's initial 12-month goal is to open 500 new "Bank On DBQ" accounts, with 80% still open at the end of that period. Organizers hope that at least 20% of new "Bank On DBQ" clients participate in the financial education and training.

The Iowa State University Extension facilitates the financial literacy training, mainly through classroom instruction.

"An increasing number of people in our community cannot or are unable to save money and build wealth," said Nancy Van Milligen, executive director of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. "Bank On Dubuque will immediately put more money in peoples' pockets, and teach them a sustainable way to manage money for the future."

"I give enormous praise to the eight banks and credit unions who have demonstrated an extraordinary spirit of collaboration in making Bank on Dubuque happen," she added.

"Social equity is an integral part of our community's approach to sustainability and the Bank On Dubuque initiative is great tool to build that equity," said Dubuque Mayor Roy. D. Buol. "I applaud the partnership that is making this initiative possible and encourage Dubuque residents to take advantage of this opportunity to improve their financial well-being."

Potential clients can join "Bank On DBQ" by visiting any participating financial institution branch, accessing the website at www.bankondbq.org or by phoning 2-1-1 (in the Dubuque calling area), a hotline staffed by Project Concern.


  •     Alliant Credit Union
  •     American Trust & Savings Bank
  •     Dubuque Bank & Trust
  •     Dupaco Community Credit Union
  •     DuTrac Community Credit Union
  •     Health Services Credit Union
  •     Liberty Bank
  •     Premier Bank


  •     Catholic Charities
  •     City of Dubuque
  •     Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (facilitator)
  •     Consumer Credit Counseling Service
  •     Crescent Community Health Center
  •     Dubuque Rescue Mission
  •     Four Mounds Foundation
  •     Hillcrest Family Services
  •     Homeless Advisory Council
  •     Iowa State University Extension (education classes)
  •     Multicultural Family Center
  •     Opening Doors (Maria House/Teresa Shelter)
  •     Operation New View
  •     Project Concern
  •     Project HOPE
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