Over the past seven years, municipalities have increasingly embraced financial access, capability, and asset building strategies.

In strategic attempts to limit capital drain from communities and to deliver more impactful services to residents on limited or declining budgets, cities have brought into being a whole new field of municipal financial empowerment which at once offers the promise of both scale and sustainability to the asset building field. 

The CFE Fund identifies high-impact, scalable, evidence-based municipal approaches and then invests in replicating them nationally. 

Summer Jobs Connect

Summer Jobs Connect is an ambitious new initiative spearheaded by the Citi Foundation and the CFE Fund that will support young adults seeking summer employment and enhance that experience by exploring programmatic linkages to safe and appropriate banking products, services, and education. The CFE Fund will working with five city governments and their local Summer Youth Employment Program partners to expand existing job positions available to local residents, as well as research appropriate banking and programmatic partnerships to further bolster the financial empowerment of low income youth ages 14-24.

Through the CFE Fund’s efforts and the Citi Foundation’s contribution of $3.8 million, Summer Jobs Connect will provide 1,800 young people with summer work experiences, as follows: 725 new job positions in New York City, 500 new job slots in Chicago, 275 slots in Los Angeles, 200 slots in San Francisco, and 100 slots in Miami. Beyond a seasonal paycheck, Summer Jobs Connect will set students up for lifelong success by helping to integrate positive financial habits and access to safe banking products and strategies.


Bank On 2.0

Coming this November 6 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. -- the CFE Fund's national Bank On 2.0 Conference Building a National Platform for Local Programs!  Please save the date and stay tuned.

CFE Fund's new Bank On 2.0 initiative will create a unified, national approach to delivering safe, affordable banking products and services to low-income residents who are unbanked or under-banked through municipal programs across the country. With a seed grant of $1.15 million from JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the CFE Fund anticipates raising matching funds from other financial institutions, foundations, nonprofit, and government partners.

Bank On 2.0 will build on the grassroots success of a wide array of Bank On and related banking access programs in cities across the country like San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and dozens of others. These first-generation banking access programs have already connected tens of thousands of people to safe and affordable financial products at institutions ranging from local community banks to global financial organizations. The CFE Fund and its partners will create a national approach and infrastructure that includes products, services, best practices, resources and other technical assistance that will facilitate local municipal efforts to connect unbanked and under-banked residents to safe and affordable mainstream banking services. By developing comprehensive, proven models, Bank On 2.0 will help individuals successfully navigate the financial system to enhance their ability to grow their finances.


Financial Empowerment Center Replication Initiative

The gold standard of financial education, Financial Empowerment Centers offer free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling to enable residents to address their financial needs and plan for their futures.  Clients receive assistance with money management, budgeting, reducing debt, establishing and improving credit, connecting to safe and affordable banking services, building savings, and referrals to other services and organizations.  Counselors are professionally trained, and support their clients in navigating complex financial decisions. Financial counseling is integrated into public services including housing services, homeless prevention, foreclosure prevention, workforce development, asset building, financial services access, and domestic violence prevention.

In 2013, the CFE Fund awarded grants to replicate the model in 5 cities through a $16.2 million, 3-year investment by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The five replication cities are:  Denver, CO; Lansing, MI; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; and San Antonio, TX.

In response to overwhelming demand following the success of the expansion, the CFE Fund has awarded In-Kind Technical Assistance grants to seven additional cities including: Cleveland, OH; Hartford, CT; Hawai’i County, HI; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA.

To read more about the model developed by New York City and success stories, click here


Ventanilla Initiative

In partnership with Citi Community Development, the CFE Fund is supporting a “Financial Counseling Window” (Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera) collaboration between the Consulate General of Mexico and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment. The program offers Mexican New Yorkers who visit the Consulate free one-on-one professional financial counseling to help them achieve greater financial security, as well as access to other Consulate services.                 


Organization of American States Partnership

The CFE Fund signed a partnership agreement with the Organization of American States' Inter-American Social Protection Network (IASPN) following a 2 day international conference it co-hosted with the U.S. Department of State in New York. The conference, entitled Partnerships for Financial Inclusion: A Catalyst for Inclusive Growth, included foreign ministers and ambassadors from 25 Latin American and Caribbean nations, along with private sector, public sector, and nonprofit leaders from across the United States. Through this ongoing partnership, the CFE Fund shares best practices and technical assistance and helps foster inter-regional collaboration between domestic and international governments engaged in financial empowerment work. 


"Twelve in Twelve" Webinar Series

The CFE Fund's Innovation Center webinar series "Twelve in Twelve: Financial Empowerment Programming Across CFE Coalition Cities" is now complete! Once a month throughout 2013, the CFE Fund series featured one program in each Coalition city. Download any one of the recordings to learn more about how these experts make it happen. This webinar series was made possible thanks to a generous partnership with the Capital One Foundation.


Local Consumer Protection Replication Partnership with CFPB

Announced by CFPB Director Richard Cordray, NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, the CFE Fund was tapped to help local governments across the country develop and enhance their capacity to offer their residents consumer protection and financial empowerment. Hailed as a model for combining local capacity with federal partnership, the NYC DCA protects consumers through licensing, enforcement, mediation, and outreach powers and programs. To learn more about participating, contact the CFE Fund. 


Financial Empowerment Hackathon

In March 2013, the CFE Fund and Capital One sponsored the NYC Office of Financial Empowerment’s Financial Empowerment Hackathon, which called on developers and designers to create apps to help New Yorkers achieve their financial goals. During the two-day event, 25 participants produced working app prototypes. The winning team created RemindMe, which automatically calls Financial Empowerment Center clients to remind them of their upcoming appointment, allows them to easily confirm or reschedule, and gives them helpful information including appointment directions and what to bring. The second place teams created a map of all Financial Empowerment Centers and Safe Start bank branch locations, and an app that sends texts to clients on payday to remind them to save for a previously set goal. Judges for the event included representatives from Capital One Labs, Google.org, ideas42, LearnVest and the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.


National Disability Institute's LEAD Center


The CFE Fund has joined the National Disability Institute to establish the National Center on Leadership for the Employment and Advancement of People with Disabilities (LEAD Center).   The LEAD Center, supported by a grant from the US Department of Labor, will focus on improving employment outcomes and promoting the economic advancement of people with disabilities.

The CFE Fund will add its expertise to connect financial stability efforts to employment programming, identifying and integrating targeted financial empowerment strategies within the LEAD Center. 


National Financial Education Networks

Establishing a Financial Education Network (FEN) is a good first step for cities looking to build the financial capability of residents.  FENs enable cities to engage local non-profit community organizations to build, promote, and disseminate their services using city platforms.  Many cities have robust non-profit communities already engaging in financial education linked to borrowing, lending, homeownership or small and microbusiness interventions.  By reaching out to these disparate, often isolated players and establishing a network, cities can harness the capacity of the local non-profit sector while offering their ability to conduct outreach at scale and centralize and coordinate client flow to the available resources. 

The CFE Fund will be launching a set of tools for local communities to launch their own Financial Education Networks in 2013.