M&T Bank Supports the IRC’s Cultural Orientation Program
M&T Charitable Foundation recently awarded the IRC in Baltimore $2,500 to support the Cultural Orientation program, which provides consistent, comprehensive instruction to all newly arrived refugees. The program focuses on seven key topics covered in 20 hours of interactive instruction, in an effort to ease the transition to life in the United States. After refugees complete their week-long cultural orientation class, they are invited to return during Friday walk-in hours when staff, volunteers, and interpreters are on-site to help them apply for library cards, answer general questions, and open bank accounts.
Refugees interested in opening a bank account participate in an in-depth banking orientation. Using IRC’s banking guide as a primary resource, this 60 minute orientation is lead by a volunteer who covers banking system basics, including information on how to avoid common pitfalls and mistakes. The volunteer and interpreter then accompany the refugee to the bank of their choosing to complete the necessary paperwork for opening the account. Since the program’s inception, 152 refugees have successfully opened bank accounts with assistance from the Cultural Orientation program.
“The staff at M&T Bank in Highlandtown have been very helpful in setting up new bank accounts for refugees,” says Sara Bedford, Cultural Orientation Program Coordinator. “Learning how to be a responsible and educated bank customer shortly after arrival in the U.S. fosters a financially responsible future. We are grateful to have a local bank that is so eager to work with refugees who are just starting out.”