Bank on Cowlitz County: Community Financial Access Pilot

Community Overview: Approximately 100,000 residents live in Cowlitz County in the Lower Columbia-Pacific Region of Washington State.  This area was hit hard by an economic recession that followed on the heels of the region's decade-long transition from economic dependence on the logging and fishing industries to lower- paying jobs in the travel and tourism industry.  In an effort to meet the economic needs of the area, the Cowlitz Asset Building Coalition (CABC) was formed to implement a robust strategy driven to address the overall well being of low- and moderate-income families and individuals.  CABC is meeting this area's economic development challenges through an array of programs, partnerships, and services designed to build knowledge, access tax credits for eligible individuals, increase competencies in financial literacy, improve credit standing, get employment training, and build assets.

Initiative Overview: Bank on Cowlitz County brings together local resources to expand access to first time and second chance accounts to local low- and moderate-income residents, especially working families.  The goal of the strategy is to assist the county's unbanked and underbanked residents achieve greater economic prosperity by connecting them to financial mainstream services, products, and financial education.  This will be achieved through: promoting available no or low-cost financial services and products; increasing the availability of financial education and credit counseling services to residents; increasing community awareness of potential impacts of residents outside of the financial mainstream; implementing a comprehensive outreach strategy for clients and resources; and involving the support of diverse partners, including financial institutions, workforce development agencies, social service, housing agencies, federal, state, and local government agencies, and free-tax preparation assistance sites.

Partner Organizations as of December 2008:

  • 211Info
  • CAP Self Help Housing
  • Consumer Counseling Northwest, Family   Finance and Resource Center
  • Cowlitz Bank
  • Cowlitz County AARP
  • Cowlitz EDC and Head Start
  • Cowlitz-Wahkiakum WorkSource Center
  • Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Fibre Federal Credit Union
  • Financial Education Resource Center
  • Internal Revenue Service, Seattle Tax Office
  • Kelso Housing Authority
  • Longview Housing Authority
  • Lower Columbia CAP Career and Family Development
  • Red Canoe Credit Union
  • Southwest Washington Partners in Careers
  • Southwest Washington WorkForce Development Council
  • Statewide Poverty Action Network
  • US Bank
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • Washington Mutual Bank
  • Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, Consumer Education & Outreach Communications Department

For more information contact: Sonia Klukas, Community Consultant at




Last Updated: January 22, 2009