US Bancorp: Community partnerships and US Bank Focus Card provide access to affordable banking services
In California and beyond, US Bank and its community partners are helping hundreds and thousands of underbanked people gain affordable access to banking services.
For people struggling to make ends meet, every dollar counts. And when it comes to banking, problems with overdrafts or insufficient funds fees leave many people unbanked.
In California and beyond, US Bank and community partners like Oakland, Calif., Community Financial Resources are helping hundreds and thousands of underbanked people gain affordable access to banking services through US Bank Focus Card – a reloadable prepaid card that provides consumers with quick access and a secure, cost-effective way to get paid, transact, monitor spending and save.
“We are focused on providing a pathway to financial well-being for low-income communities, and where it starts is safe and reliable banking,” said Parisa Esmaili, Executive Director of Community Financial Resources.
Community Financial Resources makes the cards available through its partnerships with more than 100 nonprofit organizations focused on the financial well-being of low-income households, including voluntary income tax assistance programs. revenue to provide direct deposit of tax refunds and foster youth programs where teens need access to banking without depository signatures. The organization also works with many employers to ensure employees have a safe and reliable way to get paid.
Last year alone, Community Financial Resources distributed nearly 4,000 Focus cards across the country, with an estimated nearly 50,000 cards in circulation since establishing a relationship with US Bank in 2011. Additionally, more than $35 million was deposited into the Focus card in 2021, with some 220 people using their free linked savings accounts to save more than $485,000.
The card has been a key part of several Guaranteed Income pilot projects, including a program with Santa Clara County in California and national nonprofit MyPath, which provided $1,000 a month to 72 aging youth in a host family. The Focus Card was also used for the first Mayor-led Guaranteed Income Program which provided $500 to 125 low-income residents in Stockton, California.
“What we saw was a use beyond guaranteed income. This allowed these people to file their tax returns, receive government incentives through direct deposit, and receive their child tax credits,” said explained Esmaili.
Peter Klukken, managing director of US Bank’s prepaid division, oversees the Focus Card program. Focus Card relationships support non-profit organizations such as Community Financial Resources, as well as employers in various industries who use the Focus Card to support employee payroll.
“Because the U.S. Bank Focus Card provides a fast, secure, and easy way to get paid, transact, track expenses, and save, working with organizations like Community Financial Resources helps open doors to affordable and secure banking services for those who need it most,” says Klukken.
The Focus card is connected to the award-winning US Bank mobile app, making banking, budgeting and saving even easier. According to 2019 data from Community Financial Resources, approximately 57% of Focus cards distributed through the organization were used to receive salary and 43% were used to receive direct deposit of tax refunds. In a 2018 usage study, holders of CFR-issued Focus cards saved about $350,000 in emergency funds.