For Spring Bank, trying to help the underbanked is not a sideline, but its whole reason to exist. It has been offering financial literacy courses and products like checking accounts with no fees or minimum balance requirements ever since it opened in the Bronx, N.Y., in 2007. It has two branches now, both of which qualify for Community Reinvestment Act credit, and it just received certification in December as a Community Development Financial Institution.

In short, Spring Bank seems like the perfect candidate for a New York State program that encourages banks to put branches in low-income neighborhoods that have none. The now 14-year-old Banking Development District program helps make these branches more affordable with incentives such as potential real estate tax relief and $10 million in government deposits at below-market rates.

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