Two community banks that focus on underbanked and low-income populations, City First Bank of D.C. and Southern Bancorp in Arkadelphia, Ark., have joined an international group that promotes socially and environmentally responsible development.

The $1.2 billion-asset Southern Bancorp and the $236 million-asset City First Bank this week joined the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. The Dutch organization's members, which include banks and credit unions around the world, works toward promoting sustainable economic, social and environmental development.

City First is a U.S. Treasury Department-approved community development financial institution that receives bond guarantees or tax credits for loans it makes in low and moderate-income neighborhoods.

Additionally, City First's holding company, City First Enterprises, is a nonprofit that has developed an online platform to help channel money to projects backed by community development lenders.

Southern Bancorp, which operates branches in the Mississippi Delta and Southern Arkansas, has developed mobile-banking applications to help consumers in its poverty-stricken region better manage their checking accounts. Many consumers in Southern Bancorp's region often are forced to incur the high fees charged by check cashers and payday lenders.

Southern Bancorp is also community development financial institution and it has a significant business of making small, unsecured loans with low interest rates.

Three other U.S. banks are already members of the Global Alliance: Beneficial State Bank in Oakland, Calif.; First Green Bank in Mount Dora, Fla.; and New Resource Bank in San Francisco.

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