Cleveland City Hall

Bank On CLE Awarded Fellowship to Expand Banking Access in Cleveland

Thursday, Nov 16, 2023

Full-time Bank On Fellow will lead coalition of government leaders, community organizations, and financial institutions in Cleveland to ‘Bank the Unbanked’ 

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023 — Cleveland — Millions of Americans across the country are outside of the stabilizing financial mainstream, without a safe banking account to manage their money and build towards a stronger financial future. Across the country, Bank On coalitions work to connect residents to safe, affordable accounts – and Bank On CLE just received a new grant to supercharge these efforts.

The City of Cleveland and national nonprofit the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) announced that Cleveland has been selected to receive a grant to support a Bank On Fellow for a two-year term to advance banking access efforts at scale, including through identifying opportunities to connect access to safe accounts to programs and payments.  

Now in its fourth Wells Fargo Foundation-supported cohort, the national Bank On Fellowship Program provides funding to six Bank On coalitions to support a full-time staff position for two years — a “Fellow” — to lead coalition activities. Launched in 2017 with generous support from the Wells Fargo Foundation, it is the first national initiative focused on building experienced banking access leaders across the country, equipping them with the training, tools, and resources to make significant advancements in local banking access efforts while at the same time generating best practices for other coalitions. Dedicated local leadership is critical to moving beyond general education and literacy efforts into identifying systemic integration points – from unemployment insurance to tax refunds to other program and payment streams – to connect unbanked people to safe, affordable accounts at scale.  

“We are thrilled and grateful to be part of the Bank On Fellowship opportunity and look forward to this unique opportunity to increase banking access for Clevelanders and strengthen our communities,” said Cleveland’s Director of Community Development Alyssa L. Hernandez. “Our administration, alongside banking and non-profit partners, is proud to tackle the critical issue of financial equity in order to create opportunities for residents to thrive. Our newly hired Fellow will help us be more strategic while pulling together existing resources to assist in a productive manner.” 

The CFE Fund leads the national Bank On movement, supporting local coalitions working to connect individuals and families to the financial mainstream through partnerships between local governments, financial institutions, and community organizations. The Bank On National Account Standards define characteristics of a safe, affordable, and fully functional consumer account; accounts certified as meeting Bank On Standards are available at over 400 banks and credit unions across the country in over 46,000 branches, comprising 60 percent of the U.S. deposit market share. 

“Banking access is foundational to financial stability,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “A safe, affordable, mainstream account is critical to helping people manage their money and improve their financial health. Bank On coalitions across the country connect people to safe accounts at scale, and a dedicated coalition leader will only supercharge this work. We are proud to partner with the Wells Fargo Foundation to support Bank On CLE and their new full-time Fellow in helping Cleveland residents connect to safe financial products.” 

Established in 2021 the Bank On CLE coalition, made up of local non-profits, banking partners, government employees and community advocates, began hosting quarterly meetings and recognized the need for more in-depth planning and discussion around deliverables and how to achieve them. As a result, three sub-committees were formed – marketing, program integration, and data and analytics. Members volunteered to chair each of these committees and met regularly to put forward recommendations on how to serve the needs of an unbanked population.

“We’re excited to support the continuation of our partnership with CFE Fund and welcome our fourth cohort of Bank On Fellows to lead banking inclusion efforts in markets with high concentrations of unbanked households,” said Bonnie Wallace, head of Financial Health Philanthropy at Wells Fargo. 

The City of Cleveland is one of six Bank On coalitions across the country whose work will be supported by this cohort of the Bank On Fellows initiative. The goal of the national Bank On movement is to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable financial products and services.

To learn more about Bank On CLE click here or reach out to Aaron Kinney, City of Cleveland, Neighborhood Reinvestment Coordinator and Bank Relations Manager at  


About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) 
The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting-edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. The CFE Fund is currently working in over 100 cities and counties representing 75 million people, and has disbursed over $64 million to city governments and their partners to support these efforts. For more information, please visit  or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.