Bank On Louisville Reflects Mayor’s Focus on Outcomes for Children and Families

July 12, 2010
Mayor Jerry E. Abramson is reaching out to Louisville's 28,000 "unbanked" citizens with a new program called Bank On Louisville. The mayor's goal is to have at least 1,200 individuals or families open new checking and savings accounts by the end of 2011.

With Bank on Louisville's guidance, these residents will take the first step down the pathway toward financial stability, as they reduce their reliance on high-cost check cashers and other fringe financial services.

Louisville is one of eight cities that participated in the second phase of the Bank On Cities Campaign sponsored by NLC's Institute for Youth, Education, and Families with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Ford Foundation. During the past year, the mayor joined the city's economic development and human services departments in leading efforts to replicate a model program first developed in San Francisco, bringing together banks, credit unions, community organizations and government partners to offer low-cost Bank On Louisville checking accounts to underserved families and individuals.

Launched on July 1, Bank On Louisville exemplifies Mayor Abramson's results-focused leadership on behalf of young people and families in his city. As one of the founders of the Mayors' Action Challenge for Children and Families, Abramson has shown how mayors can hold their cities accountable and respond to the needs of vulnerable residents by setting specific, measurable goals in each of the following four challenge areas.

Opportunities to Learn and Grow

In 2008, Mayor Abramson joined Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Sheldon H. Berman in hosting a High School Dropout Solutions Summit. Through the Mayor's Education Roundtable, city leaders have since remained focused on steadily improving local four-year graduation rates and increasing the number of residents completing postsecondary education.

The city uses a number of strategies to achieve these goals. Through the Louisville Education and Employment Partnership (LEEP), mentors and career counselors work with JCPS middle and high school students who are at risk of dropping out. LEEP has succeeded in maintaining a dropout rate of less than 4 percent for participating students in grades 9 through 12, and 98 percent of its 2008-2009 graduates transitioned to employment, postsecondary education or training or the military.

Mayor Abramson has also played a prominent role in supporting the Every 1 Reads initiative, a partnership among the city, JCPS and local chamber of commerce to ensure that every student is reading at or above grade level. More than 11,000 volunteers were recruited as tutors and mentors last year, up from 7,600 in 2007. The mayor's leadership has been particularly helpful in engaging afterschool program providers in supporting the initiative's literacy goals. Before Every 1 Reads began in 2003, nearly 20 percent of students were reading below grade level. That proportion fell to 9.4 percent by 2008.

A Safe Neighborhood to Call Home

Since 2007, juvenile violent crime in Louisville has decreased by 39 percent, and the mayor has convened local agencies and residents in a strategic initiative on youth violence prevention.

City-led efforts include a Weed and Seed program that brings police, residents, churches, schools and service providers together to develop and implement neighborhood safety strategies. The program seeks to "weed out" violent criminals and "seed" community-based services such as substance abuse prevention and neighborhood restoration.

In one Louisville neighborhood, the program helps families save and build assets through individual development accounts and financial education.

A Healthy Lifestyle and Environment

Mayor Abramson has set several goals to promote health and wellness in Louisville, including increasing the number of residents who engage in 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days per week by 15 percent; decreasing the percentage of overweight or obese residents by 10 percent; and increasing the amount of newly acquired and developed park land.

The city is also expanding paved biking and walking trails that link Louisville parks and neighborhoods, and has developed a comprehensive wellness strategy through the Mayor's Healthy Hometown Movement.

A Financially Fit Family in which to Thrive

In addition to Bank On Louisville, an array of other local strategies promote family economic success.

Louisville Metro Government is a member of the Louisville Asset Building Coalition, which provides volunteer income tax assistance. The coalition increased the number of residents filing for the Earned Income Tax Credit from 7,700 in 2007 to more than 9,100 in 2009, and increased total refunds by 52 percent.

The city is also part of a Family Economic Success Network formed last year that includes state government, JCPS, the Asset Building Coalition, Community Action Partnership, Metro United Way and area nonprofits.

Local efforts to connect residents to the financial mainstream fit into the city's broader data-driven strategy for improving outcomes for families and their children.

"Bank On Louisville can help change the financial future for hundreds of families citywide," said Mayor Abramson. "By simply opening a checking account, citizens can eliminate high fees for payday loans and other services that will save them thousands of dollars."

Details: To learn more about the Mayors' Action Challenge for Children and Families, visit www.mayorsforkids.org, or contact Michael Karpman at (202) 626-3072 or karpman@nlc.org.