Community Financial Resource’s prepaid debit card program has received numerous press mentions for its innovative programs and consumer advocacy:

Beefing Up Services In A Time Of Need. KALW radio Feb 16, 2009.
Doing your taxes is not what most people would call fun, but the promise of a refund has its appeal especially if your monthly paycheck is stretching thin. For many people, that extra cash is more important this year than ever. Free tax help is available to Bay Area residents earning less than 42 thousand dollars a year. But if your income is low, tax help is likely not the only kind of help you need. That's why Alameda County has launched an effort to streamline everything from bank accounts to food stamps to emergency shelter into one system. KALW's Zoe Corneli reports from Oakland.

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Immigrants Wary of Banks Put Faith in New Card. Steven Greenhouse. New York Times. Dec 30, 2006. “To develop the card, [Professor Janice Fine] worked closely with two nonprofit groups, the Center for Community Change and Community Financial Resources. Grants from the Ford Foundation and the Center for Financial Services Innovation financed a survey of immigrant members of the worker centers…”

Industry takes on bankless task: But someone's got to build trust with those who lack accounts, finance officials say. Bethany Clough. The Fresno Bee. November 15, 2006. “A Berkeley-based nonprofit group that has partnered with worker advocate groups to test a prepaid debit card pilot program allowing users to make purchases, get cash back at retailers and send money to families in other countries at reduced fees.”

Debit cards for immigrants. Erika Hayasaki. Los Angeles Times. Feb 20, 2007
“Last week, Bank of America announced a program to issue credit cards to Spanish-speaking immigrants who may not have Social Security numbers at 51 branches in Los Angeles County. Other major banks, including Wells Fargo and Citibank, have launched similar initiatives... organizers worry such offers by traditional banks will take advantage of low-income immigrants... 'It's not like they're doing it out of the goodness of their heart,' said Lauren Leimbach of Community Financial Resources, a nonprofit that helped launch Sigo along with the Center for Community Change. Banks 'are going to make very good money off of them... Several banks have marketed prepaid cards similar to Sigo, but often charge higher fees.'"

Cost of remittances strains Latinos: Sending cash to relatives back home is a process filled with fees and hassles. Carolyn Said. San Francisco Chronicle. Sunday, July 16, 2006“…The people who can least afford it are being taken advantage of and ripped off by check-cashing and high-cost money transferrers," said Lauren Leimbach, executive director of Community Financial Resources, an Oakland nonprofit that works as an advocate for worker centers. Leimbach said her group is assessing the costs of various remittance methods and plans to select vendors who offer favorable rates for their product at worker centers. Not too far down the road, she could see immigrants organizing to demand more reasonable remittance rates, she said..."People think it's just their own individual transactionbut when they start finding out how many members of their community are sending money home, it quickly becomes consciousness raising in terms of consumer power," she said.”

Western Confusion: With the help of foreign consulates, Western Union poses as a quasi-governmental banking services and rakes in millions from Immigrants. Matt Smith. SF Weekly August, 8, 2006. “…Lauren Leimbach is a former finance industry executive who heads up an Oakland nonprofit seeking to popularize prepaid debit cards among migrants. According to this plan, family members back home would also have similar debit cards,and it would be possible to transfer money from one card to another seamlessly and cheaply. Leimbach sees Western Union as a company with an outdated technology that's maintained its business through niche marketing. Western Union's PR offensive "is good corporate strategy," says Leimbach, executive director of Community Financial Resources. "But it's a strategy without any real social responsibility." I'm [Smith] all for the idea of aninternational remittances consumers' union. And Leimbach's nonprofit-sponsored debit card idea sounds like a good one.”

A Better Way To Promote Prepaid Cards To Immigrants? Yvette Presberry. Prepaid Trends. October 21, 2006 “The pilot and a survey of immigrant workers’ financial practices are described in a recent report entitled, “Distributing Prepaid Debit Cards through Worker Centers: A Gateway to Asset Building for Low-Income Households.” The authors are Jacob; Janice Fine, assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University; and Lauren Leimbach, executive director of Community Financial Resources, a nonprofit organization that will lead the pilot project with the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Community Change.”

Market Opportunity Versus Market Reality. Prepaid Trends. March 7, 2007.
Lauren Leimbach, Community Financial Resources Executive Director had this to say:
"Although a Visa study estimates that prepaid cards would save the average unbanked
individual $300 a year in fees over traditional check-cashing options, Lauren Leimbach,
executive director of Community Financial Resources, says prepaid cards fees are still too high...Prepaid cards may be more convenient and may cost less than a check casher, but the value proposition really has to be significant to change behavior,” she tells Prepaid Trends. Community Financial Resources (CFR) is a nonprofit organization that is partnering with a union, worker centers across the country and card processor IDT Financial Services to provide unbanked individuals with the SiGo prepaid card….Prior to issuing any cards, Leimbach says, CFR and its partners conducted surveys and focus groups to find out what consumers wanted. She notes the largely low-income workers her organization seeks to serve are very different from higher-income gift card buyers…Although the volume of cards is low, Leimbach says the SiGo cards are 80% active. She credits the relationship workers have with the centers of labor union where they purchase the card for such high usage. “You’re working through an affinity group. The consumers are members; they trust the organization,” Leimbach says. In addition, these organizations are natural forums for education, she explains, so consumers are also learning how to use the card.”