Community banking coalition to receive award

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The Coalition for Community Banking will be honored by the Woodstock Institute of Chicago.

The coalition – initially known as the Coalition to Save Community Banking – organized as a grassroots response to the October 2009 federal seizure and sale of Park National Bank to U.S. Bancorp, the nation’s 6th largest bank. The group organized around residents’ and local small businesses and non-profits’ concerns about our communities’ future access to credit and community banking services.

Local residents, churches, and institutions wanted U.S. Bank to establish community investment partnerships on Chicago’s West Side and near west suburbs in the same spirit, and honoring the precedents, established by Park National.

The coalition is being honored for its efforts to ensure that community needs would be incorporated into U.S. Bank’s operations.

In March 2011, U.S. Bank and the coalition jointly announced that they have reached an accord known as a “Community Benefits Agreement” and are launching a pilot program to reclaim foreclosed homes in these communities for rehab and re-sale to area residents seeking affordable housing. U.S. Bank has also honored the charitable giving commitments that Park National Bank had made.

The Coalition for Community Banking continues to organize and advocate in the Chicago Westside communities of Garfield Park, Lawndale and Austin, and in the near west suburbs of Oak Park and Maywood.  The coalition was founded by Bethel New Life Inc.; the Global Network Community Development Corp. in Austin; Housing Helpers Inc. of Maywood; Westside Healthy Authority; South Austin Coalition Community Council; the Westside Federation (a ministers’ alliance); the Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice; and the Leaders Network (also a ministers’ alliance).

Local, state and federal elected officials strongly backed the coalition’s efforts, including U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis; state Sen. Don Harmon; state Reps. La Shawn Ford and Camille Lilly; Oak Park Mayor David Pope; and Chicago Ald. Emma Mitts and Deborah Graham. Local small business owners and groups like Oak Park’s Madison Street Business Association also lent supported the coalition’s work.

Since 1990, the Woodstock Institute has given community investment awards to honor policymakers, community organizations and financial institutions that have made outstanding contributions to community reinvestment.

The annual event – being held Thursday in Downtown Chicago –  is the largest gathering of community reinvestment professionals in the Midwest, regularly attracting over 200 people from  Chicago community-based organizations, advocacy groups, financial institutions, as well as banking regulators.

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