Simply put, OneCalifornia Bank, FSB, a community development bank, is the grooviest local bank around. It's a bank with a heart, because it operates with a socially driven mission to better poor and moderate-income areas, thanks to its companion right arm, OneCalifornia Foundation. That charitable organization dreams up initiatives to stamp out social ills like poverty and discrimination. The relative newcomer wants to be part of the community and puts its customers' successes, not its own profits, first by helping its clients succeed. This bank seeks out the likes of struggling nonprofits and small business owners as its customer base, deftly guiding them through the complex world of finance to get the loans and monetary cachet they need to be community players. Plus, OneCalifornia Bank founders Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor are fun-loving do-gooders who are just a little wacky, singing, for instance — yes, singing — about their bank at the many community events the bank sponsors. They give the bank a personality lacking from its dreary contemporaries. The bank is brilliant at picking projects everyone can get behind, from rebuilding homes in East Oakland to assisting Zimbabwean orphans and improving Chabot Space & Science Center programs and helping folks restore their credit.
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