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St. Pete chosen for financial inclusion program aimed at boosting economic stability

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Petersburg has been selected as one of eight cities to participate in the National League of Cities’ Financial Inclusion Systems and City Leadership project. It was selected by the NLC in a competition, giving Mayor Rick Kriseman an opportunity to meet with the seven other mayors to identify opportunities for improvement.

Kriseman will attend the Mayors’ Institute on Financial Inclusion in April where he and other mayors will engage with national experts to find ways to help residents improve their financial outlooks.

“I am pleased St. Petersburg has been selected by the NLC to participate in this innovative project,” Kriseman said. “I have often said that we need to invest in people, and this grant is one great way to do just that. I thank the NLC and Councilman Karl Nurse for leading the way on this issue.”

The April meeting among selected mayors under the Financial Inclusion Systems and City Leadership project is part of a two-year effort designed to improve residents’ financial health by developing sustainable systems. The program is geared toward increasing mayors’ capacities toward developing initiatives that increase access to financial services and education and to help residents learn how to save, reduce debt, and build assets.

The announcement comes as Kriseman and other local city leaders continue to increase efforts to lift the city’s poorest neighborhoods south of Central Avenue out of chronic poverty.

“This is an important investment our citizens. As St. Petersburg grows, so too should the capacity of our citizens to grow financially,” said Councilman Nurse whose district includes parts of South St. Pete marred by low income and high crime.

“While many cities across the country are experiencing economic recovery and growth, this prosperity has not reached residents across all rungs of the economic ladder,” said NLC President Melodee Colbert-Kean. “This project will give mayors a unique opportunity to implement and strengthen innovative strategies to address the financial challenges many residents face on a daily basis.”

The initiative also includes ongoing technical support, grant opportunities for financial inclusion efforts, and continued peer learning opportunities. St. Pete will also be afforded the opportunity to present its strategies at the 2017 National Summit on Financial Inclusion.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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