Financial Navigators

The Financial Navigators initiative helps residents deal with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing remote assistance in navigating critical financial issues and making referrals to other social services and resources. With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Citi Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the Wells Fargo Foundation, the CFE Fund is partnering with 31 local governments across the country, providing them with technical assistance and funding to launch a new public Financial Navigators program.

Trained Financial Navigators provide structured guidance over the phone to help people strategize around supports for disruptions to their income and other financial concerns. They help residents triage financial issues, identify immediate action steps, and make referrals to other services. Assistance includes managing expenses through prioritizing payments and when to make them, as well as maximizing income through ensuring receipt of federal payments, unemployment benefits, and other resources. In partner cities and counties across the country, helping residents navigate the financial impact of COVID-19 through the Financial Navigators initiative is a critical part of front-line emergency response efforts.

To learn more about the Financial Navigators initiative, contact I-Hsing Sun, Chief Program Officer.

Expert Topic: Youth Savings Initiatives

Across the country, a number of local governments are increasing the availability of youth savings opportunities for families, with the goal of improving the likelihood that students of limited means enroll and persist in higher education. This brief details why city leaders are investing in youth savings initiatives, provides details on how these programs operate, and highlights how cities have gotten started doing this critical work.

CFE Coalition City Expert Topics: Youth Savings Initiatives

Across the country, a number of local governments are increasing the availability of youth savings opportunities for families, with the goal of improving the likelihood that students of limited means enroll and persist in higher education. This brief details why city leaders are investing in youth savings initiatives, provides details on how these programs operate, and highlights how cities have gotten started doing this critical work.

Expert Topic: Offices of Financial Empowerment

Across the country, many local leaders have launched Offices of Financial Empowerment (OFEs) or similar municipal offices that serve as a home for financial empowerment programming efforts. Check out these resources to learn from CFE Coalition city experts about why city leaders invest in OFEs; what OFEs do; and pathways to launching OFEs.

CityStart

The CFE Fund’s CityStart initiative, supported by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and others, offers mayors and their administrations a structured approach to identify financial empowerment goals, convene relevant stakeholders for sustainable success, develop actionable strategies, and ultimately craft a blueprint that is rooted in local insights and opportunities.

This two-phase action engagement connects critical insights about the impact of financial instability on municipal governments with tangible, sustainable strategies to improve families’ financial lives. Often, the first phase of the initiative is a municipal financial empowerment “boot camp” that brings together key local constituencies. Based on issues identified in the boot camp, as well as mayoral priorities, the CFE Fund works with city partners on a second phase: implementation planning. This more intensive engagement harnesses the momentum from the boot camp to design a comprehensive financial empowerment blueprint and identify key implementation stakeholders.

The CityStart initiative stems from the CFE Fund’s extensive work with local government leaders, and connects critical on-the-ground insights about the impact of financial instability on families, communities, and municipal budgets with tangible, measurable, and sustainable municipal strategies to improve families’ financial lives. CityStart cities have historically leveraged their engagement with the CFE Fund to further their commitment to this work.

If you have any questions about the CityStart initiative, contact Tamara Lindsay, Principal.

Bank On

Bank On coalitions are locally-led partnerships between local public officials; city, state, and federal government agencies; financial institutions; and community organizations that work together to help improve the financial stability of unbanked and underbanked individuals and families in their communities. These first-generation banking access programs have already connected tens of thousands of people to safe and affordable account; Bank On programs also work to raise public awareness, target outreach to the unbanked, and expand access to financial education.

The CFE Fund’s Bank On national initiative builds on this grassroots movement, supporting local coalitions with strategic and financial support, as well as by liaising nationally with banking, regulatory, and nonprofit organization partners to expand banking access, including through the first-ever Bank On National Account Standards, updated for 2019-2020. The CFE Fund also announced an online Bank On account validation and certification process; banks and credit unions across the country, at no cost, now can submit for validation products they believe meet the national Standards. The list of financial institutions offering such products continues to expand across the country.

The CFE Fund hosted the 2019 Bank On National Conference in Washington, D.C.

Next Generation Municipal Financial Empowerment Award Given to Five U.S. Mayors: Award Recognizes, Supports Emerging Municipal Financial Empowerment Leaders

The CFE Fund’s Next Generation Municipal Financial Empowerment Award grows the municipal financial empowerment field by cultivating and supporting innovative ideas from new mayoral administrations. This May 2015 press release announces the five city leaders chosen through a competitive RFP process to receive this award: Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San José Mayor Sam Liccardo, and Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler.

The award, generously sponsored by Capital One, includes both a planning grant and dedicated technical consulting from the CFE Fund. Together, awardee mayors, their teams, and the CFE Fund will develop innovative local government strategies to address poverty through programs such as financial counseling, access to safe and appropriate banking products, asset-building opportunities, and consumer financial protections.