In an effort to help low-income families transition from high priced financial lenders like pawn shops and payday advance operations to more affordable mainstream banking, Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jean Monestime’s Council for Prosperity Initiatives is launching a major effort to help affected families build and preserve assets through access to banking and financial education.

Chairman Monestime is teaming up with the United Way of Miami-Dade, Branches Inc., and 12 local, national and international banking partners to launch Bank on Miami on Feb. 23 at the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW 1st Street. Representatives from several banks and other organizations will provide financial coaching, information on opening a bank account, and free tax preparation from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the building’s lobby.

“This initiative will play a very important part in our efforts to close the income inequality gap by helping low-income people build credit and achieve financial security by becoming financially educated, gaining access to safe and affordable financial products and reducing their dependence on predatory financial products,” said Chairman Monestime, who established the Council for Prosperity Initiatives to identify ways to expand economic opportunities.

The FDIC estimates that more than eight percent of South Florida households are unbanked, and approximately 21 percent of households are under banked. These residents, who tend to be low-income, rely on alternative financial services such as pawn shops, check cashing stores and payday lenders – practices that exacerbate their financial situation. According to the Florida Prosperity Partnership, past financial mismanagement, fear and lack of understanding are among the reasons many residents are unbanked or under banked.

Chairman Monestime and his colleagues Commissioners Barbara J. Jordan and Daniella Levine Cava from the Chairman’s Council for Prosperity Initiatives will be joined at a press conference by the United Way, Branches Inc., the U.S. Treasury Department, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Community Financial Education Foundation to announce the launch of Bank on Miami.

Bank on Miami is an initiative that partners with financial institutions, government agencies and community organizations to reach unbanked and under banked residents who frequently use expensive, unnecessary and sometimes predatory financial services and connects them with financial coaching and safe, affordable and innovative financial products and solutions.