BOSTON – Eastern Bank, America’s oldest and largest mutual bank, opened a new Roxbury Crossing branch — the first new bank branch in Roxbury in more than 20 years.
Former Lynn Market Street branch manager Roxann Cooke, who is now senior vice president and regional manager, shepherded the opening of the new branch.
“In order to help address persistent income and wealth inequality, Eastern is committed to helping accelerate the growth of local enterprises and increase job opportunities and wealth creation in our neighborhoods. We believe that providing more access to banking services in communities that don’t have them is both ‘right’ and ‘smart,’” said Bob Rivers, Chair and CEO of Eastern Bank.
Eight percent of Boston’s population lives in Roxbury yet only 3 percent of the city’s bank branches are located there. The branch’s June 27 family-friendly grand opening celebration welcomed the community to the branch, and was attended by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, City Council members, and other political, civic and business leaders.
“I am proud to welcome Eastern Bank to the great neighborhood of Roxbury, and thank them for being a terrific community partner,” said Walsh. “Last week, a report showed people of color in the U.S. pay more for banking. That is injustice, and Eastern Bank has made it clear they are committed to being part of the solution and I thank them for becoming part of this community in Roxbury.”
Cooke has been and continues to be a long-time board member with Lynn-based organizations, such as Girls Inc., the YMCA and the Lynn Chamber of Commerce. Her background runs deep in Lynn and now in Roxbury, where she went to high school two blocks from the new branch and has worked in the banking industry for many years.
Being a community partner and giving people access to resources is important to Cooke, via the role of a community bank. As a first-generation American, she felt firsthand the need for resources and financial literacy.
The opening of the Roxbury branch follows other similar “firsts” where Eastern has opened in communities that need banking services rather than in areas that don’t.
In 2017, Eastern opened a new branch in Revere and invested in a new branch location in Quincy; in 2011, Eastern was the first bank to open a new branch in Lawrence in 23 years; and in 2008, Eastern was the first bank to open a new branch in Chelsea in more than a decade.
Eastern’s strategy acknowledges that a community bank’s success depends upon a vibrant and prosperous community. It creates community partnerships on multiple levels:
Located at 1413 Tremont Street in Boston across from the Roxbury Crossing MBTA station, the branch is part of a new, five-story mixed use transit-oriented building featuring 40 affordable apartment residences along with office and retail space. In addition to occupying the retail space, Eastern provided $9.6 million in financing to the project.
The new branch features full-service banking and has a 24-hour ATM and two offices for loan closings and private consultations.
Four Eastern employees work at the branch, and have bilingual English and Spanish language capabilities. Cooke went to high school two blocks away from the new branch and has spent many years working in the banking industry in Roxbury. Branch staff bring an understanding of the needs of the community and where Eastern’s efforts can best be directed in the community through its offerings, advocacy, and philanthropy.
Since its founding 200 years ago, Eastern has been focused on giving back not only by offering all people access to fairly priced financial products and services, but also through social justice and the pursuit of opportunity for all. Since 1999, Eastern has given 10 percent of its net income—seven times the national average—to charity each year. Specifically in Roxbury, since 2013 Eastern has donated more than $1.5 million to more than 70 nonprofit organizations providing basic food, clothing, shelter and workforce development needs in the community.
Cooke’s career at Eastern has reflected the bank’s core values.