Beneficial State Bank
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Beneficial State Bank

An innovative triple bottom-line approach to community and environmental banking.

About Beneficial State Bank

Beneficial State Bank (formerly One PacificCoast Bank, FSB & OneCalifornia Bank), grew from the vision of Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor and the team they formed to create a triple bottom-line bank and a supportive nonprofit foundation of the same name. In 2007, that vision was realized when OneCalifornia Bank and OneCalifornia Foundation opened in Oakland. Fashioned in the image of the great socially responsible banks and credit unions of national and international fame, the Bank is mandated to produce meaningful social justice and environmental benefits at the same time that it is financially sustainable. The Foundation owns all of the economic rights of the Bank – when profits of the Bank are distributed, they can only be distributed to the Foundation which is mandated to reinvest those proceeds back into the communities and the environment on which we all depend. 

In July 2014, One PacificCoast Bank rebranded as Beneficial State Bank to develop an identity that reflects our vision, mission and commitment to our triple bottom-line, rather than merely the geographical region we serve. The mission is to build prosperity in our communities through beneficial banking services delivered in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner. Beneficial State Bank envisions a banking industry that is fair to the person with the least bargaining power; one that provides access to financial services for all communities, particularly the traditionally underserved, and results in the long-term prosperity of responsible consumers, promotes financial system stability, and promotes environmental sustainability.

Providing credit to constructive businesses and nonprofits – especially those boosting entrepreneurial activity in inner cities, following and strengthening wellness models, or reconnecting vital rural/urban dependencies – is the bank’s primary business. Credit allows these beneficial activities to grow and scale. The Bank also believes that a healthy environment is the only reliable foundation for economic prosperity. Finally, the Bank strives to be a catalyst for positive change in communities by providing fair, transparent, and sustainable banking products and services as alternatives to more predatory practices.

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Beneficial State Bank is a member of the NCIF Network:

  • BankImpact Dashboards Reporting Bank
  • Social Performance Working Group Member
  • NMTC 3-Way Partnership Partnership

Impact Story

Beneficial State Bank’s theory of change is grounded in the belief that increasing financial inclusion and economic opportunity builds more resilient, civically-engaged communities. The bank recognizes that IDAs and other forms of matched savings accounts are a critical way to improve low-income individuals’ access to fair and transparent banking services, their financial empowerment, and their educational endowments. In addition, for many low-income households—especially in the wake of the housing crisis, which impacted low-resource communities so disproportionately severely—these kinds of accounts are one of the few remaining way to build assets. 

Beneficial State Bank has been honing its understanding of the IDA promise since that crisis. Beneficial State is building its practice to occupy the best role it can as a bank, and to innovate a product and delivery system that allows as much of the match subsidy to accrue to the savers as possible. The bank currently hosts IDA accounts for two separate program providers, Lao Family Community Center in Oakland; and CASA of Oregon, a nonprofit affordable housing technical assistance provider offering administrative services and fiduciary oversight for IDAs throughout Oregon.
 
The power of matched savings programs is undeniable, helping savers not only build assets but also gain financial savvy. One Lao Family Community Center participant was able to achieve his lifelong dream of homeownership through our IDA program. A refugee from Burma, he came to the U.S. in 2008 after having spent most of his life in refugee camps. In 2012, he and his family enrolled in the Lao Family’s IDA program with Beneficial State. In March of 2015, with $4,000 savings, plus matched funds and down payment assistance from the City of Oakland, he was able to purchase a house. 

Such success stories illustrate how matched savings programs serve multiple important functions. As the executive director of Lao Family notes, “it’s not just about the job, and the savings, it’s also about understanding the financial systems in America…about how to develop credit, banking systems, how to use a credit card.1” Savings and education together help account holders climb the economic ladder.
 

1. Adkisson, K. (2015, April 27). Nonprofit Lao family celebrates 35 years helping immigrants achieve self-sufficiency [Blog post]. Retrieved fromhttps://oaklandnorth.net/2015/04/27/nonprofit-lao-family-celebrates-35-y...