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 initiative spearheaded by the Citi Foundation and the CFE Fund to support young adults seeking summer employment, enhancing these municipally-led programs by integrating programmatic linkages to safe and appropriate banking products, services, and education. During the second year of the initiative, the CFE Fund is extending and expanding the program by working with seven city governments and their local Summer Youth Employment Program partners to provide additional job positions to local residents, as well as connect them to appropriate banking products and robust financial education to further bolster the financial empowerment of low income youth ages 14-24.

Through the CFE Fund’s efforts and the Citi Foundation’s support of of $8.4 million, including $4.6 million in 2015, Summer Jobs Connect will provide over 2,000 young people with summer work experience and financial empowerment services. Beyond a seasonal paycheck, Summer Jobs Connect will set students up for lifelong success by helping them learn positive financial habits and providing access to safe banking products and strategies.


Bank On 2.0

The Bank On 2.0 initiative is a national approach to leveraging government programming, funding, and partnerships to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable financial products and services. Building on the successes of local Bank On programs, the initiative incorporates cutting-edge financial empowerment strategies from the CFE Fund and its partners along with innovative financial products and services that are appropriate, affordable, and available at scale through municipal governments. 

Through the Bank On 2.0 Innovation Fund, supported by JPMorgan Chase Foundation, CFE Fund will support the design and implementation of pilot programs and research that test new, replicable methods of reaching underserved markets through local government infrastructure and leadership. Round one pilot funding will support efforts to enhance banking access in rural populations; we have selected Bank On Washington and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Savannah Area (CCCS) for grant support. Bank On Washington will partner with mobile and local libraries to create financial hubs that connect rural residents and Native American communities to accounts; and CCCS will research and partner with local financial institutions to explore a replicable model for offering account access through trusted community partners in rural communities in Georgia and South Carolina, including through free financial counseling.  

The CFE Fund has also released the Bank On 2.0 Innovation Fund’s second round omnibus Request for Proposals. This round offers support for replicable research and programs aimed at increasing access to financial services in three distinct concentrations: populations with unique challenges, rent payment solutions, and direct deposit for individuals who receive regular non-employee payments from local governments. The RFP and application can be found here.

More about Bank On 2.0

Bank On 2.0 builds on the grassroots success of a wide array of Bank On and related banking access programs in cities like San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and dozens of others across the country. 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 are building a national approach and infrastructure that includes products, services, best practices, resources and other technical assistance to 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.

The CFE Fund works with financial institutions, local government leaders, federal regulator partners, foundations, and national nonprofit organizations to advance this effort. To this end, the CFE Fund convened these leaders at a national conference  Building a National Platform for Local Programs – in late 2014; read the agenda hereIn addition, the CFE Fund’s National Bank On 2.0 Advisory Board will help create a national approach that can help local governments connect residents to financial services. This work is made possible thanks to a seed grant of $1.15 million from JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and the support of additional pilot project and conference funders including Citi Foundation, American Express, MetLife Foundation, Bank of America, and VISA. 


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. And, we recently announced a new Request for Proposals to assist a third cohort of cities with in-kind technical assistance to launch Financial Empowerment Centers.

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. 


Multi-city Financial Empowerment Hackathon

With generous support from Capital One, the CFE Fund hosted a multi-city Financial Empowerment Hackathon, a national effort to create software applications (apps) focused on financial inclusion. Regional Hackathons took place in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco throughout the summer, drawing in over 110 participants. Regional winners then presented their ideas virtually to a panel of judges at a site hosted by Bloomberg LP in New York. Judges selected MEDAPulse, in partnership with the Mission Economic Development Agency from San Francisco, as the winner for an app design that would connect financial counseling follow up goals to pre-scheduled future text messages.  MEDAPulse will attend the next meeting of the CFE Coalition to present this app to city leaders from across the country.


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.