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The Journal of the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at The George Washington University


Expanding access to financial literacy and to low‐cost banking services are important policy issues that may help prevent some of the financial pitfalls that disproportionately affect low‐income individuals. This paper explains the causes and effects of being “unbanked” (i.e. not using the traditional banking system), and explains why it is important to bring everyone into the financial mainstream. In addition, this paper highlights the structure and implementation of a successful public-private partnership program called Bank On San Francisco that provided financial literacy courses and low-cost checking accounts to at-risk residents in San Francisco. Lastly, this paper discusses several important economic considerations for policymakers to analyze before replicating the Bank On San Francisco program in other jurisdictions, and also reviews federal action on financial literacy and banking the unbanked.

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