SAN FRANCISCO (11/29/07)--Financial institutions, including credit unions, reported that they have opened 11,110 new accounts as part of a Bank on San Francisco program designed to help the unbanked. The program was launched in September 2006 by City Treasurer Jose Cisneros, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, non-profit EARN and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The program’s goal was to open 10,000 accounts in two years. Because this goal was exceeded, Bank on San Francisco aims open 20,000 accounts by fall 2008 (San Francisco Sentinel Nov. 26). Through the program, families are saving hundreds of dollars per year in check cashing fees, Cisneros said. One person that the program has helped is Virginia Johnson of San Francisco. Johnson, 71, has been cashing her checks at check cashers since 1974. She learned about the Bank on San Francisco program through her care worker. She now has her income deposited into an account at Northeast Community FCU and receives free money orders each month. Johnson “didn’t know about the credit union,” she said, noting that she’d paid $200 each month to cash her checks. She is enrolled in a financial management course through Northeast Community FCU and expects to receive her first ATM card upon completion in December. Other credit unions involved with the program include Mission Area FCU, Patelco CU, San Francisco FCU, and Spectrum FCU. Because of the national attention the program has received, the National League of Cities, along with the cities of Seattle and Los Angeles, reported that they are working on similar initiatives, said the newspaper.