This issue, Issue 21, details how the CFE Fund and our city partners continued to respond to COVID-19. Financial Empowerment Center initiative partners received CFE Fund support to meet increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the CFE Fund continued building out its newest program, the Financial Navigator initiative, to help cities provide remote financial triage and referrals; and the CFE Fund released the 2021-2022 Bank On National Account Standards. In addition, the CFE Fund announced the new cohort of Consumer Financial Protection Initiative grantees, who will focus first on a COVID-19 consumer awareness campaign and then plan for broader consumer financial protection capabilities within the city. This issue also features a guest column from the American Bankers Association (ABA) CEO and President, Rob Nichols, highlighting a recent partnership encouraging ABA partner banks across the country to offer Bank On certified accounts.
Each year, over 110,000 young people work summer jobs and are supported through financial education, banking access, and other financial empowerment resources as part of the CFE Fund’s national Summer Jobs Connect (SJC) initiative, supported by the Citi Foundation.
This video details how through pivoting to remote programming, cities across the US were able to adapt to COVID-19 and incorporate financial literacy programs and safe, affordable banking access into their SYEPs through Summer Jobs Connect. In addition, SYEPs also supported discussions around racial equality amongst youth and demonstrated how youth can serve their community in crisis times.
In this August 2020 press release, the CFE Fund announced that more than 50 city and county governments across the country will expand financial counseling and financial navigation services for their local residents in need. As part of this effort, the CFE Fund is launching a new Financial Navigators initiative, which will help 31 city and county governments newly offer their residents one-on-one remote sessions to help navigate the financial impact of COVID-19 through access to local, state, and federal resources. In addition, the CFE Fund announced an expansion of its Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) initiative, which offers professional, data-driven one-on-one financial counseling as a public service, funding additional FEC counselors and pivoting its national FEC infrastructure to accommodate remote services. This work is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Citi Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the Wells Fargo Foundation.
Local governments across the country are working to help their residents weather the health and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cities and counties, that means deploying their Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs), which provide professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a public service. Local leaders were able to offer FEC financial counseling as a critical component of their emergency response infrastructure; the fact that this service already existed, and was embedded into the fabric of municipal anti-poverty efforts, meant that it could quickly pivot to meet new COVID-19 needs, including through offering remote financial counseling.
This brief describes how FEC partners identified the right technology; developed skills to deliver counseling remotely; messaged the availability of FEC services as part of their localities’ COVID-19 response; and shared lessons learned with their FEC counterparts around the country.
This brief, Navigating From a Good Idea to Public Financial Empowerment Commitments, outlines the experiences of the past two CityStart cohorts in moving from general interest in financial empowerment to concrete commitments to municipally-led efforts. The CFE Fund’s CityStart engagement supports local leaders in convening stakeholders, identifying local challenges and opportunities, aligning with Mayoral or municipal priorities, and then strategically planning for successful government programming. Using the experience of 17 cities who have participated already in CityStart, this Brief can provide city governments and key stakeholders interested in getting started with financial empowerment work with an understanding of how the CityStart engagement can facilitate the success of that process locally.
This issue, Issue 20, details the CFE Fund’s and city partners’ response to COVID-19. Financial Empowerment Center initiative partners pivoted to remote counseling; the CFE Fund announced a new program, the Financial Navigator initiative, to help cities provide remote financial triage and referrals; and Bank On coalition partners shared information about safe bank and credit union accounts that could be used to receive stimulus and other emergency payments. In addition, the CFE Fund announced the new cohort of Consumer Financial Protection Initiative grantees, who will focus first on a COVID-19 consumer awareness campaign and then plan for broader consumer financial protection capabilities within the city. This issue also features a guest column from the City of Newark, New Jersey’s Mayor Ras Baraka on the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program plans as part of the Summer Jobs Connect initiative.
This press release announces the second cohort of the Local Consumer Financial Protection initiative, generously supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Chattanooga, TN; Detroit, MI; Philadelphia, PA; Shelby County, TN; and St. Paul, MN will begin planning a communications campaign to raise consumer awareness of and protect residents from COVID-19 related scams, and continue planning for broader consumer financial protection capabilities within the city. Local consumer financial protection is a critical component of disaster response. Each city has received a $10,000 grant, paired with a nine-month technical assistance engagement partnership to begin planning for a local consumer financial protection initiative. This process will include a structured approach to identifying critical local consumer issues, convening key stakeholders, and surveying the legal landscape that will inform the development of an actionable strategic plan.
The CFE Fund has a number of supportive resources related to COVID-19!
Municipal financial empowerment is a fundamental aspect of help and recovery. As city governments and others help residents navigate the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, the following resources sheets can provide guidance on safe financial measures during this tumultuous time. The CFE Fund will continue to develop resources and add them to this page.
- Banking Messaging Toolkit: We hope you will customize the components within this Banking Messaging Toolkit for your own communications efforts, and also share the toolkit with any other organizations whose clients might benefit from safe banking during this time. Contact us for access to the toolkit!
This toolkit includes an array of resources that can be used and customize locally including:
- Talking points;
- Template social media language;
- Social media graphics;
- A template press release for coalitions, local governments, or other partners to use in announcing their efforts; and
- Examples of ways that local governments, Bank On coalitions, and others already are highlighting the importance of banking access to receive payments and guiding residents to certified Bank On accounts.
- Importance of Banking Access During COVID-19: It has never been more important to have a banking account. This tip sheet outlines the importance of a safe and affordable mainstream bank or credit union account for managing your money remotely, including to receive wages and government benefits securely through direct deposit and make payments remotely.
- Engaging Unbanked People About Safe Banking Accounts, Particularly During This National Crisis: This tip sheet draws on findings from recent CFE Fund focus group and survey research on how to communicate the value of banking accounts to unbanked people, which are especially important during this crisis moment. The CFE Fund also produced a more in-depth version of this information as a Bank On Playbook chapter.
- Safe Financial Measures to Take During COVID-19: This tip sheet lists the top ways to manage your finances if you have been financially affected by COVID-19.
Have ideas for resources that would be helpful in providing guidance on meeting the financial challenges of COVID-19? Get in touch!
The CFE Fund submitted a comment letter to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in response to their request for comment on the proposed reform of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The letter expresses the CFE Fund’s concern that a change to the CRA evaluation methodology that focuses purely on quantifiable CRA activities may undermine support for broader financial inclusion efforts that are more difficult to value, such as increasing access to safe and affordable banking accounts and investments in account opening partnerships.
This issue, Issue 19, includes new highlights from the second CityStart cohort, exciting program updates from the growing Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) and Bank On national movements, as well as grant opportunities for the CFE Fund’s Local Consumer Financial Protection, Summer Jobs Connect, and newly-launched Wages Connect initiatives. This issue also features a guest column from the City of Rochester, New York’s Mayor Lovely Warren, highlighting the momentum established during Rochester’s CityStart engagement, which ultimately led to the creation of an Office of Community Wealth Building and the launch of the City’s Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) as part of the CFE Fund’s FEC Public movement.