Bringing financial education to the heart of a Los Angeles community

April 18, 2024
The U.S. Bank Magnolia Place Financial Education Center collaborates with nonprofits like LIFT-Los Angeles to provide financial education programs to Los Angeles residents.

U.S. Bank Magnolia Place Financial Education Center welcomes people looking to boost their financial acumen

The U.S. Bank Magnolia Place Financial Education Center is designed to provide a welcoming environment for individuals and families with limited access to financial education and services who are looking to expand their knowledge and work toward financial stability. 

Woman standing next to service window.
Flory Martinez helps community members access resources through the U.S. Bank Magnolia Place Financial Education Center.

“The U.S. Bank Magnolia Place Financial Education Center embodies the bank’s commitment to financial inclusion and access to financial services,” said Flory Martinez, who works in community outreach for U.S. Bank and is based at the center, which is in downtown Los Angeles. “We not only educate and empower individuals but also actively work to remove barriers to financial services and provide opportunities to achieve financial stability and prosperity.”

Located in the Children’s Bureau’s Magnolia Place Family Center building, which provides a variety of health, educational, economic and social services, the financial education center serves a low- to moderate-income community – the majority of whom speak Spanish as their primary language.

The centralized location allows the financial education center to reach the many visitors who come to the building for other services and also may benefit from financial workshops and coaching.

Covering topics such as building emergency savings, budgeting, using credit wisely, homebuying, establishing banking relationships and more, the programs the center offers are designed to empower individuals and families to break the generational cycle of poverty, plan for the unforeseen and make the financial system easier to understand.

Participants can build upon the knowledge they gain through workshops by scheduling one-on-one coaching sessions as well.

“People really value the opportunity to receive personalized guidance tailored to their own circumstances and goals,” Martinez said. “It helps simplify complex financial concepts and strategies.”

The center opened in 2018, as the Union Bank Magnolia Place Financial Education Center, when a Union Bank employee who lived in the area recognized the bank could provide valuable services to the local community. After the acquisition of Union Bank, U.S. Bank saw the value of the center and rebranded it to the U.S. Bank Magnolia Place Financial Education Center.

While the financial education center doesn’t process banking transactions, Martinez is able to connect community members who are interested in acquiring banking products and services with U.S. Bank employees at nearby branches.

Martinez said she also has forged strong relationships with nonprofit organizations that serve the same community – including from the same building.

When nonprofit LIFT-Los Angeles, which also is located in the Magnolia Place building, started a Community Business Academy in 2022 to help emerging entrepreneurs get their businesses started, she quickly connected with LIFT staff to collaborate on workshops and provide information to participants who have questions about banking products and services.

“We’re both in the trenches serving the community. We complement each other,” said Carlos Vasquez, director of entrepreneurship at LIFT-Los Angeles. “There are individuals who want to open a bank account and we don’t offer banking services, so we let Flory know. She can come in and talk to them and connect them to the right individuals.”

Haven Neighborhood Services serves individuals and families experiencing financial and housing instability and frequently works with the U.S. Bank Magnolia Place Financial Education Center on programs and activities designed to boost their financial acumen and work toward their financial goals.

CEO Erika Toriz said she appreciates the spirit of collaboration and commitment to helping the community through activities like recruiting volunteers to help families file tax returns.  

“It’s important to have someone who really understands the community and the work being done on the ground, and is passionate about going beyond their duties,” Toriz said of Martinez.

With more than 50 financial workshops and coaching sessions completed in 2023, Martinez said she is witnessing the positive impact these programs have in the community. She sees more people setting and following budgets, saving regularly and using credit wisely, as well as using banking services that may have seemed inaccessible in the past – benefiting individuals, families and the community as a whole.

“The center has played a pivotal role in fostering a sense of empowerment within the community,” Martinez said. “As families become more financially secure, they are better positioned to support one another, invest in local businesses and contribute to the community's economic development."

While the financial education center has only carried the U.S. Bank name for a relatively short time, the bank has a long history with the facility. In 2008, U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance (then called U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation) invested $7.02 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) equity to finance the 46,000-square-foot Magnolia Place Family Center building where the financial education center is located. NMTCs encourage private capital investment in underserved urban and rural communities, supporting business growth and job creation. 

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