Creating Alternatives for a Better Future

Public Banking

Public Funds for Public Good

Currently, public funds in California cities and counties are mostly held by the big banks. The California Public Banking Act (AB857), signed into law in 2019, enables cities, counties, and joint powers authorities to establish their own public banks that can redirect taxpayer money toward local communities rather than increasing profits for Wall Street shareholders.

In 2023, Rise Economy worked closely with Friends of the East Bay Public Bank to help establish a public bank that would serve Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond, and we worked with the California Public Banking Alliance to move forward the creation of a public bank for the City and County of Los Angeles. Rise Economy Paulina Gonzalez-Brito was appointed to be a board candidate for the Public Bank East Bay and was elected as co-chair.


A Bank Account for Every Californian

Commercial banks have long failed to adequately serve BIPOC families. Prior research conducted by Rise Economy and the Roosevelt Institute documented a pattern of discrimination against Black and Brown secret shoppers who tried to open bank accounts. It’s no wonder that 11.3 percent of Black households and 9.3 percent of Hispanic households were unbanked, according to the FDIC’s most recent survey1, compared to 2.1 percent of White households.

Enter CalAccount, a promising new public banking option that has the potential to succeed where Wall Street banks have failed. AB1177, signed in 2021, authorized the creation of a Blue Ribbon Commision to study the feasibility of a publicly sponsored, privately managed retail banking option that would allow Californians to access their wages and public benefits without worrying about overdraft fees, monthly service fees, or minimum balance requirements.

Since then, Rise Economy has been organizing and collaborating with our members to ensure community voices are heard as the viability of CalAccount is assessed and the structure of the offering is developed. In 2023, the Blue Ribbon Commission selected the RAND Corporation to conduct a market analysis of CalAccount. Rise Economy, SEIU California and the California Public Banking Alliance pushed the researchers to adopt certain recommendations, including recommendations for collaborating with public, labor and NGO partners in the design and rollout of CalAccount.

Economic Wellness Promotores

Promoting Access to Financial Resources

In the past year, Rise Economy has significantly advanced its mission to democratize access to financial resources through the Economic Wellness Promotores program. This initiative is at the forefront of our efforts to increase economic security for low- and very-low income people of color. Employing the “Community Health Promoter” model, which has become an established practice to increase access to healthcare, our program leverages the power of community and shared experience to expand access to banking. Promotores, who are deeply rooted in the cultures and experiences of those they serve, engage in direct outreach.

Promotores spearhead our participation in the Open Air Economy Collaborative, an LA-based partnership between Inclusive Action for the City, East LA Community Corporation, Public Counsel and Rise Economy. Supported by a $5 million three-year grant from Chase, this innovative program provides holistic business support in the form of capital, business coaching, legal assistance and financial education to Black and Latina street vendors and other micro-entrepreneurs.

Learn more about the Rise Economy vision we believe in

california reinvestment coalition strategic plan