Chamber Banking Members Partner with Community Works Tuscaloosa

Group launches year-long financial literacy counseling session series in west Tuscaloosa

A volunteer committee of Tuscaloosa-based bankers and financial experts launched this week a year-long series of financial literacy counseling sessions for residents of underserved neighborhoods in west Tuscaloosa.

The committee is coordinating its activities with the Housing Services and Financial Literacy Division of the 501c3 nonprofit, Community Works Tuscaloosa. Formed in 2015 with Executive Director Bob Johnson at the helm, the CWT and its divisions seek to bolster the lives of low-income residents in west Tuscaloosa through economic, workforce, and leadership development initiatives.

Many of the experts serving as financial literacy counselors are West Alabama Chamber of Commerce members. They were recruited to serve, in part, because of their already established records of community stewardship, said CWT Housing Services Director Latonya Braggs. “I am in awe of the enthusiasm on the part of the bankers, realtors, and other financial experts who are taking their time to offer basic financial counseling,” Braggs said.

Volunteers in the financial literacy initiative are Dan Blakley, City President, Regions Bank; Kenyatta Browne, Assistant Manager University Branch, Regions Bank; Vanessa Cade, Real Estate Agent, Russell Realty & Development; Paul Carruthers, Regional Community Affairs Manager, Regions Bank; Jim Flemming, President, FNB of Central Alabama; Heyward Gould, CEO, FNB of Central Alabama; Max Karrh, Senior Vice President, Bryant Bank; John Lollar, City President, Tuscaloosa Market, Robertson Bank, Northridge Branch; Tanya Winstead, Alabama One Credit Union; and Dr. Thaddeus Steele, Dr. Kingsley Wokukwu, and Dr. Carol Williams, Department of Business Administration, Stillman College.

The sessions are planned be held twice monthly and comprise topics on budgeting, the importance of credit and the road to home ownership, as well as banking vocabulary. Bankers volunteering on the collaboration agree that teaching the importance of budgeting, credit, and safe banking practices are important for west Tuscaloosa neighborhoods. Regions Bank provided extra support to the team in use of instructional materials and a $1,000 contribution to the initiative.

“We believe in the mission of Community Works Tuscaloosa, and we are proud of the impact CWT has in our community,” Regions Bank Tuscaloosa City President Dan Blakley said. “Regions has long been a part of this community, and we believe it is our responsibility to help make life better in the communities we serve. We have seen first-hand the hard work and dedication of CWT, and we are honored to help further its mission of providing crucial services that improve the quality of life in our community.”

Kenyatta Browne, branch team leader for Regions Bank, developed a curriculum and handouts for the volunteers to use at the counseling sessions. She will lead the July 27 session, from 3 p.m. – 4:45 p.m., at the McKenzie Courts Community Center.

“Regions Bank is committed to providing financial education and helping more people learn the essentials of how to set a budget, grow their savings and reach their financial goals over time,” Browne said. “This outreach with CWT can have a positive impact on local families for years to come. Our team is proud to join CWT in making a powerful difference in the lives of others and on our community as a whole.”

Senior Vice President of Bryant Bank Max Karrh agrees that financial counseling to individuals can have cumulative effects.

“Bryant Bank believes that having a strong understanding of finances empowers individuals to make sound decisions with their money,” Karrh said. “When sound financial decisions are made at the individual level, the community as a whole is made stronger one home at a time.  Therefore, we believe that this program of teaching financial literacy has the potential to strengthen our entire community.”





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