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An East L.A. Bank Urges Obama to Help the Unbanked

Pan American Bank wasted no time trying to shape the agenda for President Barack Obama’s second term.

The $40 million-asset company sent Obama a video message Wednesday about the financial challenges facing East Los Angeles and the grassroots efforts to overcome these problems.

Unbanked or Underbanked: An Invitation to the President” touches on the need for financial literacy in the communities Pan American serves and the potential problems facing people who lack bank accounts. Studies show that children with a savings account are seven times more likely to attend college than those who do not have one, according to the video.

Roughly 28% of households were unbanked or underbanked in 2011, up almost three percentage points from two years ago, according to a report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in September.

To help combat this, Pan American offers a youth savings account with no monthly fee and no minimum balance. The bank, which was founded in 1964 by former U.S. Treasurer Romana Acosta Banuelos, also provides financial literacy to schools and created the East Los Angeles Financial Literacy Task Force.

The video aims to bring attention to “the effect that collaborative communities such as East Los Angeles can have in creating asset builders, wise consumers and a college-going culture,” Jesse Torres, chief executive of Pan American, said Wednesday in a press release.

The video was created during the summer by Pan American, members of Congress and the Los Angeles City Council and the president of the Los Angeles Unified School District, among others. It was posted online in August.

At the end Torres invites Obama to witness the challenges and solutions that have been introduced into East Los Angeles.

“We hope to see you here in East Los Angeles very soon,” Torres says to conclude the video.


(1) Comment



Comments (1)

At the onset, thank you for writing this piece and sharing our story.

During the last four years our Country has been paralyzed due to the one-two punch of a horrible economy and a deadlocked Congress.

Regardless of the side of the aisle one sits, few can reasonably argue that a financially literate Country stands a greater chance of economic success than one that is largely financially illiterate.

Studies prove that financial literacy and asset building at any level and any amount produce positive effects. As such, any effort to improve the economy should look past the immediate term and look to proving assurance that in the long-term we will be better off. A focus on financial literacy and asset building can do that.

We hope the message reaches our President and that he accepts our challenge to make financial literacy education compulsory in elementary, middle and high school. Further, I hope that the President uses his pulpit to encourage parents to begin their kids on the path of asset building.

Thanks again for the article.


Jesse Torres
President and CEO
Pan American Bank
East Los Angeles, CA
Posted by mrjessetorres | Tuesday, November 13 2012 at 5:40PM ET
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