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10/26/15 - Beneficial State Bank, SpringFour Win Second Annual Empowerment Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 26, 2015 — Beneficial State Bank and SpringFour are the winners of the second annual Empowerment Awards, which recognize promising projects that provide or encourage access to safe, fair financial services in underserved communities. Beneficial State Bank won in the Community Development Banking category for its innovative educational savings accounts, and SpringFour won in the Access category for its mobile application that helps those in financial difficulty connect with nonprofit groups and public-sector resources.

The awards, which are sponsored by Promontory Financial Group, highlight responsible financial services that empower communities and deliver consumer-oriented financial innovations.  

Promontory evaluated projects on their effectiveness, innovation, impact, and sustainability, as well as for leadership and governance. The Community Development Banking category recognizes banks registered as community development financial institutions (CDFIs), while the Access category targets financial and technology firms with less than $1 billion in assets. Beneficial State Bank and SpringFour each receive a financial award of $100,000 and pro bono consultations with Promontory.

The number of applications received for the 2015 awards increased substantially from the previous year. Five organizations were also named finalists: BankPlus, Carver Federal Savings Bank, Southern Bancorp, Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, and Self-Help. 

“The Empowerment Awards recognize organizations that have created innovative ways to reduce financial distress and spark growth,” said Gene Ludwig, founder and chief executive officer of Promontory Financial Group. “These projects help underserved communities across the country by making innovative, responsible banking products available and accessible.” 

Community Development Banking Category

Winner — Beneficial State Bank, Oakland, California

Beneficial State Bank is recognized for the Oakland Kindergarten to College Savings Program, which offers local kindergarteners savings accounts and funding rewards that encourage saving for college. The program stresses the importance of financial health and the benefits of having a bank account, in communities with a prevalence of payday lenders. Beneficial is also developing a curriculum to help other institutions launch similar programs.


  • BankPlus, Jackson, Mississippi: The bank’s Affordable Housing Program helps low- and moderate-income families secure a down payment and identify sources of down-payment assistance.  The program has helped hundreds of Mississippi families become homeowners.
  • Carver Federal Savings Bank, New York, New York: Carver Community Cash expands financial services to traditionally underserved communities in New York City. The program has helped residents establish bank accounts and become less reliant on check-cashing services.    
  • Southern Bancorp, Arkadelphia, Mississippi: The bank expanded its Workplace-Based Financial Wellness Partnership, which offers responsible banking services and educational outreach to individuals starting new jobs in the Mississippi Delta area. 

Access Category

Winner — SpringFour, Chicago, Illinois

SpringFour is recognized for plans to build a mobile application, LifeKit, which will refer consumers facing financial challenges and decisions to nearby nonprofit and government programs and responsible financial services. SpringFour already delivers more than 4,000 referrals a day through a business-to-business platform used by banks and mortgage firms and a desktop program used by credit and housing counselors, loss-mitigation specialists, veterans’ organizations, and employee-assistance programs.


  • Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, Boston, Massachusetts: NACA’s Detroit Neighborhood Initiative expands residential mortgage lending in Detroit and assists homeowners with extensive rehabilitation work required on their properties.
  • Self-Help, Durham, North Carolina: The firm expanded a pilot program that reaches underbanked communities through an online platform that accepts account and loan applications at trusted local partners, including community and faith-based organizations.

About Promontory

Promontory Financial Group, based in Washington, D.C., specializes in helping companies and governments around the world manage complex risks and meet their greatest regulatory challenges. Promontory’s work aims to make its clients stronger and the financial system safer. Promontory has offices in New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Denver, and affiliate offices in Beijing, Brussels, Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Toronto. Eugene A. Ludwig, who served as U.S. comptroller of the currency under President Bill Clinton, founded Promontory in 2001.

Empowerment Award Information

For more information about the Empowerment Awards, please contact:

Rachel Anderika
+1 646 771 4286