A Bank for a Diverse, Local Community

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What made rev abby mohaupt switch to a better bank that reflects her faith and values?  

The rev mohaupt (who uses all lowercase for her name because that’s how her grandmother spelled it) shares with Green America’s Fran Teplitz, executive co-director, what motivated her and how rewarding making the switch was. 

rev. mohaupt is the director of education and training at GreenFaith, and former co-moderator of Fossil Free PCUSA, a grassroots movement to get the Presbyterian Church (USA) to divest from fossil fuels. She’s also a PhD candidate at Drew University in Religion, Culture, and Ecology. rev abby recently moved back to Chicago after living in California, New Jersey, and Texas. Her last move created the perfect opening for switching to a bank whose mission she supports. 

Fran: Why did you decide to switch banks now? What was most important for you? 

abby: I was moving to a new city and when I closed all of my accounts in Texas, I knew that when I opened a new account in Chicago, I wanted to use a bank that was more in line with my values. A few years ago, I switched from Chase to Amalgamated for my larger/recurring expenses, but I needed a more local bank for some tasks. As I looked for banks, it was important to me that I work with a bank that focused on people and diversity, and one that was small enough that it wasn’t one of the major investors in fossil fuels.  

I ultimately chose a bank that was historically created to support Korean immigrants, and now continues to support specifically multi-ethnic communities. Because so much of my financial life (and professional and personal life) is about divestment from fossil fuels, I was surprised that this was the best fit for me (I assumed that I would choose based on fossil fuels alone).  

But there was also something lovely about this choice for at least two reasons:.  

  • Our liberation from injustices are intertwined – immigration justice is climate justice.  
  • When I was in seminary, much of my education was enhanced by Korean students who taught me to be a better person of faith…. and my life is better because of immigrants every day. I’m charmed by that connection. 

Fran: Those are powerful connections to your new bank. What was most important for you to find in a new bank? 

abby: I wanted to be able to go to my bank in person and to have the location be one that was easy to get to. While there are closer banks to our apartment, those were all big banks that support fossil fuels. The bank I ended up opening an account with – Hanmi – is right on the route home from my daughter’s daycare, so I pass it nearly every day.  

Fran: So the solution you needed was right in your neighborhood! What resources were helpful?  

abby: I used Green America’s bank resource to look up banks in my neighborhood that had similar values. I didn’t have to close any accounts (because I’d done that previously), so I simply had to compare the map on the site to where I regularly go. 

Fran: Tell us about your new bank! Anything surprising?  

abby: I love our new bank. I opened the account one afternoon after picking my daughter up from daycare. She sat pretty quietly throughout most of the interaction, but she also captured the heart of the banker who helped us through the process. A couple weeks later, I was going through the drive thru, and that same banker helped me. He asked how my daughter was doing– which was so surprising after several weeks!  

Fran: What’s your message to others needing to switch to a bank or credit union that reflects their values? 

abby: Before you begin this process, it can feel like a mountain of work – just start with one account and move one account at a time. There’s no “pure” money – so do the best you can, using the resources available to you so that you bring your money in line with what you believe in.  

...just start with one account and move one account at a time.

Fran: What is your next step for greening your financial life? 

abby: The next step for us is moving the last of our investments in line with our commitment to be invested with our values. It’s a step that I’ve let linger for a couple of years, and I’m ready to make that call. Then I think we’ll start integrating our transportation commitments with our finances! Now that we live in Chicago, we have lots of green options for travel, and each of those options are more cost-effective than owning a car on our own.