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Financial Tools for a Digital World

Michael Abensour, executive director of the Kramden Institute, a non-profit that provides technology tools and training to bridge the digital divide, has long believed local is better.

That’s why when it came time to find a new bank for Kramden, he wanted to practice what he preached. “We were banking with a commercial bank, and that didn’t make very much sense,” he points out.

After scouting their options, Michael made the jump to Coastal for all his business banking needs. “I liked that they were local. I liked that I could get someone on the phone if I needed them,” he says.

And that’s when the relationship really took off.

“We moved to talking about how we could partner together. It seemed like a great fit for both of us,” Michael says. “Coastal was excited. Because if you’re digitally literate, there’s a good chance you will be financially literate.”

The partnership began with the Community Education & Access program that aims to teach adults critical computer and Internet skills and provides free computers. The class includes four weeks of digital literacy taught by Kramden and one week of financial literacy taught by Coastal employees.

“The Coastal people come in and talk about online banking and other financial issues. They’re great at training the students in how to use online resources to manage finances.”

After completing the class, the students leave with their own refurbished computer.

And Coastal isn’t just volunteering time. They are donating the money for the program, as well. “It costs about $25,000 a year to run the program,” Michael says. “Coastal covers all of that, and they donate 100 computers to students in need in the Triangle.”

The class is having a real impact on its participants. Just ask Jacqueline McCullers who took the class at the Wake County Boys and Girls Club in early 2016. “For me, the most helpful thing was getting updated information about computers. I was able to put more computer skills on my resume.” Jacqueline said.

From here, the two groups are looking for new ways they can partner together. It’s all part of Michael’s—and Coastal’s—effort to keep it local.