Traditionally, low- to moderate-income areas are underserved by banks, often forcing those who live in the community to travel long distances to access the financial services and obtain financial solutions they need—which, in turn, can place them at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to launching a small neighborhood business, purchasing a home, avoiding fraud, or successfully navigating any number of the twists and turns inherent to their own unique personal financial journey.
Fifth Third Bank understands that a flourishing economy depends on thriving, successful neighborhoods and informed financial partners for people at all income levels. That’s why the institution—with a history of engagement that stretches back more than a hundred and fifty years—has not only committed to invest $30 billion in low- to moderate-income communities between 2016 and 2020, but also created the Financial Empowerment Mobile, commonly known as the eBus. The eBus is a 40-foot mobile financial capability classroom that brings empowering financial tools and advice directly to communities across the FifthThird Bank area.
What Happens on Board?
When the eBus rolls into a neighborhood, the professionals on board—equipped with computer workstations and Internet connectivity—are available to field questions and provide a number of services, including: explore paths to homeownership, access and review credit reports and debt reduction strategies, file income taxes, prepare for small business ownership or open a checking account. Fifth Third representatives along with over 200 community partner organizations strive to make the necessary financial information accessible and relevant to each individual who visits the eBus at any of its over 200 events each year.
Frequently, the education is hands-on, in-depth, and practical: For example, eBus professionals offer home ownership seminars, assistance with job searches, tools to aid in financial decision-making, and tips on how to identify and avoid financial scams and fraud. Event sites are often located at community-based organizations, employers, government agencies and schools.
Real Progress Toward Increased Financial Capability
To date, nearly 400,000 people have boarded the eBus, with many visitors and new customers starting their path toward achieving their financial goals in a real, substantive way—perhaps for the first time.
Some may simply strengthen their own everyday finances—a worthy and laudable end in and of itself. Others may eventually take the next step and benefit from the Fifth Third goal of dedicating $11 billion of capital to the needs of low- to moderate-income borrowers and neighborhoods or, further, the bank’s additional commitment of $10 billion in small business lending.
Perhaps best of all, the positive outcomes Fifth Third can potentially generate through its eBus tours and other financial capability programs could very well ripple far beyond the counseled individual: First, by equipping communities with valuable money decision tools that benefit individuals, families and businesses. And then, by creating empowerment and wealth-building strategies which benefit neighborhoods as a whole.
Fifth Third is determined to increase access to financial services and help close the income gap through innovative delivery of financial empowerment tools to low-wealth communities. Are you on board?
To learn where you can find the eBus, view its calendar of upcoming locations.