|Wednesday, May 16, 2001 |
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Department of Workforce Development, Consumer Credit
Counseling Service expand Get Checking program
to seven Wisconsin communities
MADISON Ė The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has issued a grant in the amount of $25,000 to Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Milwaukee to expand their Get Checking program to selected communities throughout Wisconsin.
The Get Checking Program was developed by a Milwaukee based collaborative coordinated by Milwaukee County UW-Extension to bridge the gap for those individuals outside the financial services mainstream. Get Checking provides six hours of instruction in banking basics, managing a checking account, and credit and budgeting skills. Get Checking offers a fresh start to individuals who may have had problems in the past. Financial institutions that participate in the program offer more flexible account opening criteria.
"Get Checking is an excellent opportunity for people with past financial difficulties to get back onto their feet and on the road to financial independence," said DWD Secretary Jennifer Reinert.
More than 600 people have completed the program taught by Milwaukee County UW-Extension and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Milwaukee since it was introduced in 1998. This year some 1000 participants expected to complete Get Checking classes.
The U.S. Treasury Department estimates that as many as 22% of the population do not have a checking or savings account with a primary financial institution. Many of them are unable to qualify because they have had bounced checks or other problems in the past. Regardless of their wage level or job opportunities, these families cannot improve their long-term financial situation without access to traditional banking services. The Get Checking program gives them the skills required to responsibly manage a bank account and build a sound relationship with a financial institution.
"The financial impact on a community is enormous," says Patrick Vandenberg, director of Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Milwaukee "For every one-hundred individuals we can bring back into the economic mainstream, nearly $2 million will be channeled through the banking system. Itís a win-win for the customer, the institutions, and for all consumers and businesses who will benefit from the increase in capital and reduction in borrowing costs.
Wells Fargo Bank is one local institution that has had a positive track record with Get Checking. Of 50 accounts opened by program graduates at Wells Fargo Bank since 1998, only one has been closed. Two participants have purchased homes with mortgages obtained through Wells Fargo. "We are extremely pleased with the results of Get Checking," says Colleen Bollman, community market manager of Wells Fargo Bank. "Itís proven to be an effective model for teaching basic financial skills and helping individuals qualify for credit and other banking services that are so necessary for financial stability and success in todayís economy."
The Department of Workforce Development grant will provide the resources for Consumer Credit Counseling Service to bring the Get Checking program to Madison, LaCrosse, Eau Claire, Rhinelander, Dodgeville, Marinette/Peshtigo, and Stevens Point. CCCS will work with local community partners and Job Centers. Once established, the program is sustainable through the support of local community resources. Outcome information will be tracked and compiled by DWD.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service, a division of Family Service of Milwaukee, is Wisconsinís largest non-profit, United Way-supported credit counseling service. CCCS helps 4,000 families annually solve their debt problems, learn to manage money responsibly, and avoid unnecessary bankruptcy. CCCS is part of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a national non-profit network of 1,450 members providing counseling, education and debt management programs for people dealing with stressful financial situations.
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