Atlanta-based nonprofit Operation Hope is teaming up with Wells Fargo to put financial coaches inside bank branches.
The financial coaches will help people in the community achieve their financial goals through workshops and free one-on-one coaching.
One of the first coaches of the program will be located in Atlanta at a Wells Fargo in Stone Mountain. Other “Hope Inside” centers will be launched in Houston and Oakland this month. The nonprofit and Wells Fargo plan to introduce “Hope Inside” centers in 20 markets that will serve as many as 150 Wells Fargo branches by the end of 2023.
HOPE Inside is part of Wells Fargo’s Banking Inclusion Initiative to help more people who are unbanked gain access to affordable, mainstream banking products, and help remove barriers to financial inclusion for Black and African American, Hispanic, and Native American/Alaska Native households, which account for more than half of unbanked households in the United States.
“We know from our outreach and work with national and community stakeholders that financial education and guidance, and an individual’s sense of inclusion and trust, are all important factors in bringing more people who are unbanked into the formal banking system,” said Darlene Goins, head of Wells Fargo’s Banking Inclusion Initiative. “Working with Operation HOPE is one important way that we can remove barriers to financial inclusion and help empower people with education, resources and tools to manage their money, improve their credit and achieve their financial goals.”
“The Wells Fargo HOPE Inside centers mark a significant step forward in addressing barriers to financial wealth in diverse communities by offering a welcoming space, access to financial coaches, and expanded resources that support the financial goals of individuals with the greatest needs,” said John Hope Bryant, Chairman and CEO, Operation HOPE, Inc. “This collaborative effort can drive meaningful change and ultimately help address the deeply rooted barriers to financial empowerment in underserved communities.”
Introducing redesigned community branches
Along with the HOPE Inside launch, Wells Fargo is redesigning branches in select low- and moderate-income (LMI) areas throughout the United States to better meet the needs of the community. The updated community branches will offer spaces for financial health seminars, and individual consultations, such as those offered by Operation HOPE. Employees in these branches reflect the diversity and cultures of the communities and offer in-language service. New tools will be available to inform and empower customers about digital features that help make banking easier, like mobile check deposit.
The first redesigned Wells Fargo community branches are expected to be completed in 2022 in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Camden, N.J., Newark, N.J., New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, Phoenix metro areas, Arizona and New Mexico border region communities.
Banking Inclusion Initiative progress
Since introducing the Banking Inclusion Initiative in May 2021, Wells Fargo has organized the National Unbanked Task Force and collaborated with multiple national and community stakeholders to pursue solutions that increase access to affordable products, digital banking and financial guidance within unbanked communities.
Wells Fargo has teamed with the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund and its local Bank On coalitions in Atlanta and Houston to test new strategies and approaches that increase access to affordable banking products. Starting in late 2021, Wells Fargo and the CFE Fund have pursued new marketing approaches to reach unbanked consumers and increase awareness of the value and safety of mainstream banking in LMI areas of Atlanta, Houston and Philadelphia. The initial campaign included paid social media posts, videos and advertising in each market.
Other actions Wells Fargo has taken in the first 10 months of the initiative include:
- Announced the elimination of Overdraft Protection transfer fees and non-sufficient funds fees as well as additional account enhancements that will give customers more flexibility to meet their personal financial needs.
- Announced a new short-term loan of up to $500 that is expected to be offered by the end of the year to help customers with their financial needs.
- Expanded support for 13 Black-owned Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) by offering access to a dedicated relationship team that’s working with each MDI on financial, technological and product development strategies to help strengthen and grow their institutions.
- Introduced Our Money Matters, a comprehensive financial wellness initiative for students of color at 14 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) who disproportionally face greater financial challenges and college debt. As part of the initiative, Wells Fargo collaborated with the HBCU Community Development Action Coalition to produce the “Funny Money College Tour” – a series of on-campus events at HBCUs and MSIs in which comedians and financial experts team up for an entertaining, interactive financial education program.
- Supported MoCaFi’s new partnership with the City of Los Angeles’s Angeleno Connect card, enabling users to withdraw funds from Wells Fargo ATMs nationwide without incurring fees from Wells Fargo.
- Extended additional funding and support to expand the Credit Builders Alliance (CBA) low-cost, credit-building consumer loan program.