Start Community Bank’s efforts to foster financial literacy and work with first-time account holders have paid off—in the form of an award of nearly $300,000 from the federal government.
The two-year-old local community lender announced that news Thursday afternoon at an event at its Whalley Avenue branch.
Start was one of 59 banks awarded with a Bank Enterprise Award from the Community Development and Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The awards go to support investment in “low-income and distressed communities, supporting new jobs, stronger small businesses, and more financial education and banking services,” CDFI Fund Director Donna Gambrell said in a press release.
Start Community Bank will receive an award of $287,834, which will go toward a number of the young lender’s programs. Those include “Loot Camp,” which teaches teens how to save money, and work with Columbus House to help people who are homeless to establish bank accounts.
Bill Placke, Start’s CEO, said it’s more time-consuming and less lucrative to serve the banking customers that Start does—people with small accounts, little or no banking history, people with credit problems. The grant from the CDFI Fund will allow the bank to do more of that work, he said.
“This award is a big deal,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal (pictured). It puts Start on the map, nationally, he said.
Start does the kind of small-scale everyday banking that people take for granted in the United States, banking that’s just as important as the complicated and massive transactions that the big banks do, Blumenthal said.