Hartford Public Library launches program for immigrant communities on ‘financial know-how’

Hartford Public Library launches program for immigrant communities on ‘financial know-how’

HARTFORD — A new program offered through the Hartford Public Library will expand banking access for members of immigrant communities by offering financial incentives to open bank accounts.

The program, announced at the library’s downtown branch, is funded by a $487,853 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“It really is a model program,” Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget E. Quinn said. “There are no other examples of this out there. We are starting something new that we hope will help communities across the country serve this population as well as make our economy stronger through the work and the access that this population will now have to financial services tools.”

Quinn announced the program Friday morning alongside U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and other community members.

The program — expected to launch next spring — will be called Building Social Capital: An Inclusive Approach to Immigrant Financial Integration. Participants will sign an agreement to deposit $50 a month for five months into a savings account with Liberty Bank that will be administered by the library. After five months, the money will be transferred to a new account and participants will receive an additional $250.

Participants who maintain an account balance of $250 or more for the next five months will earn an additional $250. The program will also include meetings every other week to discuss financial literacy and provide networking opportunities for participants.

“It really is, at the end of the day, about the American dream,” Blumenthal said. “What we’re doing here is making the American dream practical and real for people because financial know-how is absolutely essential in today’s world.”

The library is partnering with Liberty Bank, the Connecticut Association for Human Services and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund to create and run the project.

Participantion will be for those who have lived in the country for less than 10 years or who are not proficient in English, Bronin said. The program will be overseen by the library’s American Place, which has for years provided services to immigrants and refugees in the Hartford area.

“What’s so powerful about this new partnership is it adds another element to that already broad range of supports that this library provides,” Bronin said. “The ability now to match savings, to say that if you are currently unbanked, and you open a bank account, and you deposit up to $250 in that account, you’ll get that $250 matched, that’s a meaningful thing. That’s a powerful thing.”

jonah.dylan@hearstmediact.com

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