The ceremony for the Young Men Emerging (Y-ME) Unit brought smiles and positive energy to the graduates and the Industrial bank and DC DOC personnel who attended. (Courtesy of DC Department of Corrections)
The ceremony for the Young Men Emerging (Y-ME) Unit brought smiles and positive energy to the graduates and the Industrial bank and DC DOC personnel who attended. (Courtesy of DC Department of Corrections)

Industrial Bank, one of the largest African-American-owned banks in the country recently celebrated the success of one of its most innovative programs: teaching banking and financial literacy to the incarcerated.

Designed to provide resources to detained men and women that would help acclimate them into re-entry upon release, the 2017 kickoff, initiated by Clinique Chapman, Program Manager (Forensic Social Worker) at the D.C. Department of Corrections, awarded certificates of completion to a new group Sept. 25.

Graduates at the Correctional Detention Facility ceremony display their certificates and are flanked by Industrial Bank and DC DOC program participants. (Courtesy of DC Department of Corrections)

Chapman and Jacqueline Boles, Senior Vice President of Retail Banking at Industrial, teamed up and implemented a program for Industrial Bank to teach Financial Literacy to select residents of the D.C. Jail.  With the support of Industrial’s president and CEO, B. Doyle Mitchell, the Branch Manager at the U. Street Branch, Lisa Hinton, and other key bank personnel, classes were taught that have produced many positive results. Participants in the program receive perks while incarcerated, as well as reductions in their sentences.

During the certificate of completion ceremony at Correctional Detention Facility and Correctional Treatment Facility, Mitchell gave an amazing speech to the young men, followed by empowering words delivered by the DC DOC’s Director, Quincy Booth.

“We consider it a privilege and an honor to provide financial literacy training to these fine men.  They are very different than they have been characterized to be and are working very hard to get back on the right track,” Mitchell said.  “Our officers deserve all the credit for the life changing work we are doing.”

B. Doyle Mitchell, president and CEO of Industrial Bank, gave a power message at both ceremonies. (Courtesy of DC Department of Corrections)

The first two groups began in January 2018. Groups have consisted of residents at both CDF and CTF, Medium and Maximum custody levels.  In addition, one of the two recent cohorts included the men of the Young Men Emerging (Y-ME) Unit.  The Y-ME unit consists of programming specifically geared to those 18-25 years of age.  The young adults are called “mentees,” coupled with approximately six mentors who are seasoned adult men who have experienced incarceration in the federal penal system with upwards of 20 years served.

Topic areas covered in bi-weekly, 1-hour sessions include: the importance of savings, checking, how to write bank teller slips, budgeting, understanding and managing your credit, effective communication, guest speakers such as an investment banker who discussed creating wealth and life insurance/retirement planning.

One of the mentors on the Young Men Emerging Unit demonstrated his thanks for the wealth of knowledge imparted by the bank volunteers by depositing (via a family member within the community) $1,000 to open the families first savings account with Industrial Bank.  With his new savings account the mentor and his family have taken a monumental step toward proving that financial literacy can positively impact his impending reentry to the community.

Financial literacy is an especially essential tool to assist those within the criminal justice system and specifically those who have been incarcerated for a long period of time. Some people have been incarcerated so long or were incarcerated at such a young age, they are uncertain about how to even use an ATM machine. The training provided by Industrial Bank will be ongoing for the foreseeable future and will go a long way towards helping the participants feel more comfortable about returning to society.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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