In early September, FirstBank — one of the nation’s largest privately owned banks — launched “Empower All,” a free and bilingual financial education program.
Focusing on financial literacy, Empower All seeks to enhance financial confidence and independence by sharing free guidance on key banking issues. The information is available in both Spanish and English on FirstBank’s website and includes five topics: banking basics (such as how to open an account); budgeting, saving, and investing; ways to build and improve credit; steps toward homeownership; and how to prevent financial loss due to fraud or failure.
Ideally, this educational opportunity will help participants achieve long-term financial health by eliminating hurdles — like cost and language barriers— which have historically gotten in the way of people building wealth.
“We want to get this information out to the community. This is part of ‘banking for good’, and that is something FirstBank is proud of,” said Marco Aguilar, FirstBank banking officer. “We want to include everyone.”
The initiative kicked off during Hispanic Heritage Month with a series of regional in-person gatherings — including a Sept. 28 event at Tequila’s Mexican Restaurant in Glenwood Springs, coordinated by Aguilar and Jorge A. Rojas Lopez, FirstBank’s market vice president for the Valley. According to Lopez, it was an excellent opportunity for community members to enjoy refreshments and learn from FirstBank employees about the benefits of the Empower All initiative.
“We have heard positive feedback about these events and have already successfully onboarded new clients who came to us after hearing about this initiative and our community efforts,” said Lopez, following the event.
Inspired by the community’s strong interest, Lopez is currently spearheading the effort to host more in-person events in Spanish.
“We understand the importance of providing financial education resources to everyone — especially for the Latinx community, which is often underserved,” Lopez stated. “By providing these free [bilingual] resources, we can do our part to ensure that everyone has tools at their disposal to make informed financial decisions in their preferred language.”
While the in-person events have come to a close, at least for now, the education component continues with FirstBank’s extensive collection of bilingual banking resources online. The Empower All content is concise, easy to navigate and information is presented in video and written format for increased accessibility.
According to Aguilar, the topics were selected by a multicultural team that wanted to bring the most relevant banking information to the community.
“We are bringing in things that we feel our community is missing, like how we connect with our Hispanic community,” said Aguilar. “We brought it up to our marketing department that we feel like there is a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding…We want to make sure that we provide the resources.”
For many community members homeownership is a crucial topic, and the initiative shares five steps people can follow to find a home. The homeowner video details how to obtain your credit score, determine affordability, what down payments and closing costs are, finding a lender, getting pre-qualified and organizing your home wish list.
Alongside the Empower All initiative, FirstBank’s blog, “Smart Cents,” provides additional resources which includes tips for saving money on groceries, how to start a business and ways to avoid scams.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of FirstBank’ Empower All initiative, is the mission to create sustainable financial growth for community members. According to Aguilar, these free resources enable people to ask questions, take action and set themselves up for long-term success.
“I always say that knowledge is power. Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Aguilar urged. “We want our community to be successful and increase their wealth and be financially [set]. That’s the main goal.”
To learn more about FirstBank’s Empower All initiative, visit www.efirstbank.com
The Smart Cents blog is available at www.efirstbankblog.com