Tuesday, July 20, 2021  


SPRINGFIELD – Lake County residents are urged to register for a free financial education program to learn more about banking basics and building positive relationships with financial institutions.

The event, titled “You Can Bank On It,” is scheduled for noon Tuesday, August 3 via Zoom. Interested participants can register in advance at

The program is being offered through a partnership between Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza, Lake County Treasurer Holly Kim, and Wintrust Community Banks.

It will be the first community outreach event hosted in conjunction with Comptroller Mendoza’s Bank On Illinois initiative, which aims to steer unbanked and underbanked Illinoisans away from predatory lenders and provide them with safe, affordable tools so they can work toward financial stability and save for the future.

More than one-fifth of Illinois households conduct their financial business outside of the traditional banking system, according to a 2015 report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Unbanked individuals often take their financial business to predatory lenders such as auto title lenders, payday lenders and pawnshops, which charge exorbitant fees for basic services like check cashing and high interest rates on lending.

“Many of us take for granted being able to cash a check at our bank, open a savings account to plan for our family’s future or secure a loan at a reasonable interest rate,” Mendoza said. “But thousands of Illinoisans don’t have these options, and they pay for it in inordinate fees and sky-high interest rates. Bank On Illinois seeks to help them break that cycle.”

The Brookings Institute found that, on average, a full-time worker who doesn’t use traditional retail banking products is charged roughly $40,000 in lifetime fees.

During the August 3 event, registrants will learn about banking basics, including financial products and services, how to select financial products and providers, and basic steps for opening and managing checking and savings accounts.

Lake County Treasurer Holly Kim said she is excited to offer the program because it’s an opportunity to connect families with information about safe, affordable tools that can make a real difference in their lives. Lake County has a combined unbanked and underbanked rate of nearly 25 percent.

“A bank account and basic financial education are important steps toward financial independence,” said Kim, who is a member of the Bank On Illinois commission. “We want to be proactive in connecting people with reliable, free or low-cost financial services so they can do things like save for the future, establish or rebuild their credit, and obtain mortgages and small business loans.”

Bank On Illinois is a collaboration between the State of Illinois, community organizations and financial institutions. Wintrust Community Banks, with locations throughout Lake County, offers products that are Bank On certified.

Founder and CEO Edward J. Wehmer said Wintrust’s mission is to ensure people in the communities it serves have access to a reliable bank with their best interests in mind.

“We’re proud to say that every location in our network of more than 170 community banks across the area offers our Money Smart accounts, which are Bank On certified and designed with tools, resources, and affordable account structures to help our customers get their financial well-being on track,” he said.

For more information about Bank On Illinois, visit