Benchmark Bank’s Blog

“Banking on People”

| Benchmark Bank News Public Relations

Benchmark Bank is proud to announce that it has entered into a partnership with local nonprofit Austin Street Center called “Banking on People.” This revolutionary new program will help transform the lives of those previously plagued with homeless who are now ready, willing and able to contribute as active members of society.

Below is the Press Release which Austin Street Center just released about the program:

Austin Street Center, a nonprofit ministering to up to 460 homeless men, women and
children, daily, located in Dallas, TX is associating with Benchmark Bank of Plano and
Dallas to initiate a program called “Banking on People”.

“Banking on People” is modeled on the concept of micro finance, used in impoverished
nations to increase their GNP and, therefore, create better, more productive lives for the
participants through small start-up bank loans. “Transferring this concept to our
ministry,” remarked Keith Price, Executive Director of the Austin Street Center, “we
would have participants not normally seen as an acceptable risk due to mental illness,
addictions, physical illness, negative credit and personal history.”

Benchmark Bank will provide loans for individuals who meet the criteria established by
the bank and the shelter to start a personal business. “We have candidates,
periodically,” said Price, “who have worked their way through our various programs, or
who have taken the “bull by the horns” themselves and are just short of their goal,
where a loan would give them the boost they need to be contributing to society again. In
looking for an entity to work with us on “Banking on People”, we sought a lending
institution who understood that there is more to the story of homelessness than what
appears on the surface, was compassionate and was prepared to take an element of
financial risk, in order to help an individual get their businesses off the ground and build
their much needed self-confidence.”

“When Keith mentioned the idea to me,” said Layne Newman, Senior Vice President of
Benchmark, “we discussed the strategy internally and found it appealed to our desire to
work with an underserved segment of the Dallas community.

By making a simple loan developed with the expertise of Austin Street, we could clearly
help others who had no access to capital. There are some worthy people in need and
our institution is committed to assisting such folks where it makes sense, financially and

“We will be starting very, very small with this program,” said Price, “because we have to
present the right candidates to the bank, so the bank and each participant can build a
relationship that suits them both. This bank is willing to work closely with our client,
giving both of them the clearest possible shot at a positive outcome.”

“Very few agencies, if any, are starting a program like this. It is one piece of the puzzle
in reducing chronic homelessness that we, as a ministry and a community, have been
lacking. Having a financial institution like Benchmark see this vision, embrace it, and be
willing to step up to potentially help our clients, is a dream coming true I did not see
happening for years,” said Price.

Benchmark Bank is a Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender.