‘Bank On’ program helps Idahoans build their credit, savings

awebb@idahostatesman.comMarch 4, 2014 

Rockhounds wanted: The Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology, housed at the Old Idaho Pen, is looking for new volunteers and will host an orientation on March 15. Volunteers help out at events such as the annual Rock Party, with educational activities, shown here in 2013. See the story for more details.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE MUSEUM OF MINING AND GEOLOGY

A new program is helping men and women get on a healthy financial path and stop paying fees for simple transactions like cashing checks.

The program, Bank On Treasure Valley, enables participants who have never had checking or savings accounts to set them up at local banks after taking five free classes on financial literacy.

The program launched last summer. Four people have already graduated. More than 50 people are currently enrolled.

Bank On is a communitywide collaboration among Washington Trust Bank, United Way of Treasure Valley, the Idaho Department of Finance and many other financial institutions.

The program, say organizers, seeks to solve a critical problem in the community. Without a checking and savings account and a relationship with a reputable bank, “unbanked” families have a hard time building savings and assets, not to mention establishing credit.

People without bank accounts often rely on costly “alternative services” (payday loans, check-cashing businesses, rent-to-own agreements, pawnshops, car title loans, etc.) Such services generally charge fees or operate with high interest rates.

The issue is pressing for low-income families. Forty-three percent of American households with a yearly income below $30,000 are either unbanked or underbanked. And here’s a sobering statistic: the average man or woman without a bank account spends 10 percent of his or her net income on alternative financial services.

Visit the Bank On website to register for the program, or contact program organizers at bankon@unitedwaytv.org or call 336-1070, ext. 100.

NEED-BASED SCHOLARSHIP AT RIVERSTONE

The national Malone Family Foundation selected Riverstone International School in Boise as a recipient of its scholarship in 2012. The school is the sole Malone Scholar School in the state.

The scholarship is for students in grades 7-11.

Those who want to apply should:

• Be a citizen of the United States.

• Show enthusiasm and motivation for academic excellence, evidenced by grade reports and test scores.

• Demonstrate financial need to qualify for funding of at least 30 percent of tuition through Riverstone International School’s need-based financial aid process.

Applications are due March 15. Interested parents can visit riverstoneschool.org for more information and an application.

NAMI OFFERS FREE RESOURCE FOR THOSE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

The National Alliance on Mental Illness hosts a free “Peer to Peer” series of classes in Boise. The classes, intended for those 18 and older living with mental illness, will start March 7 and take place every Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. for nine weeks.

Trained teachers who are also contending with mental illness lead the classes. The series is intended to provide recovery strategies and will offer presentations, discussion and exercises.

The classes are free, but attendees must register. To do so, visit the NAMI website, or contact NAMI office manager Victoria Nolan at 376-4304 or manager@nami-boise.org.

MUSEUM OF MINING, GEOLOGY NEEDS YOU

The Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology, 2455 Old Penitentiary Road in Boise, is holding an orientation for prospective volunteers at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 15.

The museum offers displays, field trips, lectures, school tours, kid-camps, and workshops for adults. A Rock Party in the fall draws hundreds of families. Questions? Call 283-3186.

FREE SCREENING: ‘RAFEA: SOLAR MAMA’

The documentary is about a Bedouin woman who gets the chance to travel to India to attend the Barfoot College. The college trains illiterate women to become solar engineers. The free screening is at 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 5, at the Special Events Center at Boise State. Meagan Fallone Carnahan, head of global strategy for Barefoot College, will speak.

The film is part of the seventh annual Family of Woman Film Festival at the Sun Valley Opera House in Sun Valley, March 4-10. For more about the festival: familyofwomanfilmfestival.org.

• Looking ahead: the film festival is also hosting a free talk on The United Nations Population Fund in Action with Anzaira Roxas, a nurse-midwife from the Philippines and winner of Friends of UNFPA’s 2013 International Award. Roxas will speak about UNFPA’s recent typhoon relief work in the Philippines and the needs of women in crisis situations, 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 11, at The Lookout Room in the Boise State Student Union Building.

QUICK NOTES ON GOOD WORKS AT THE IDAHO FOODBANK

• In 2013, IceWorld customers donated 3,190 pounds of food for the Idaho Foodbank. The majority of donations came from Food Bank Fridays, a weekly promotion in which skaters who bring food receive a discount during Friday day and evening public skate sessions.

• Families turn $1 million raffle win into a generous gesture: Once the shock they had actually won the $1 million Idaho Raffle started to wear off, the families involved began to think about lessons they could teach their children.

“We asked, ‘What are we going to do to have our kids associate this with more than material things?’ ” said Louis Massoth, the son-in-law of Luella Rowe, who had the winning ticket.

Their collective decision was to buy $10,000 worth of food. Their children and friends delivered the haul to the Idaho Foodbank.

• Volunteers mark MLK Day in the right way: Ninety volunteers spent the morning of their Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day holiday, Jan. 20, at The Idaho Foodbank.

They came from companies including Albertsons, Citigroup and Idaho Central Credit Union; as well as from the Junior League and the Italian American Club of Boise; and as families.

Two groups assembled 3,600 Backpack refills for the foodbank’s weekend feeding program for elementary school students.

A third group moved frozen pearl onions from 20-pound bulk boxes into family-sized bags ready for distribution. Another 70 volunteers rolled in for the afternoon shift. This group was made up of volunteers from Citigroup, Agri Beef, the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, the Baha’i Community of Boise and the Junior League.

Many had already worked the morning shift and were there for the second time that day. Together, they built 3,700 backpacks — enough to supply 107 children with weekend food for an entire school year.

Want to know more about volunteering? Call the foodbank at 336-9643.

A FEW NICE THINGS...

• Dorothy Miller, owner of Hope Blooms Flowers and Things in Eagle, hired extra drivers for Valentine’s Day from members of the Grotto Group. The drivers donated their delivery fees to the Boise Rescue mission and other nonprofits.

• Jessica Ross, a fourth-grader at Cynthia Mann Elementary School in Boise, lives with mitochondrial disease, a condition that affects the body’s ability to turn food into energy. Jessica wants to get the word out about the condition while raising money for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. All the classrooms at Cynthia Mann will have collection jars. The class that collects the most money will get a pizza party courtesy of the local branch of the foundation. If you’d like to donate, Cynthia Mann is at 5401 Castle Drive in Boise.

• A news station, WCVB in Boston, recently aired a story about Rhode Island 7-year-old Tyler Seddon, who has leukemia and is awaiting a bone marrow donor. A family friend has put out the call around the U.S. Tyler, whose birthday is March 6, is hoping to receive as many birthday cards as possible from firemen and policemen. If you’d like to send him a card, helping to make sure Idaho is represented, his address is 96 S. Main St., Pascoag, RI 02859.

Click here to see the news story about Tyler.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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