By Debbie Fiddyment
Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf and Operation HOPE chairman, founder and CEO John Hope Bryant cut the ribbon Wednesday on a newly redesigned Stone Mountain branch that focuses on resources for unbanked and underserved communities.
The updated Stone Mountain Memorial branch in DeKalb County introduced a “HOPE Inside” center and financial coach who works for the Atlanta-based nonprofit Operation HOPE. The financial coach will seek to empower community members with financial education and guidance, such as helping them improve their credit scores.
It’s Operation HOPE’s 200th “HOPE Inside” location and the first redesigned Wells Fargo branch in the U.S. to feature an Operation HOPE financial coach. It marks the beginning of the bank’s work to introduce “HOPE Inside” centers and coaches in 20 markets by the end 2023. The plan, part of Wells Fargo’s Banking Inclusion Initiative, also includes redesigning 100 branches in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods across the nation.
It’s Scharf second visit to the Atlanta area this year after he earlier announced a $20 million donation to help diverse small businesses in the city. The Stone Mountain branch in DeKalb County was chosen because it’s in one of the most diverse and fastest-growing counties in Georgia.
The urgency for financial stability is growing as residents from DeKalb County and metro Atlanta face rising inflation and greater economic challenges. According to the FDIC, about 5 percent of Atlanta metro area residents are unbanked, and the unbanked population is disproportionately Black and African American, Hispanic and Native American.