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.
Building off the successes of the national Bank On and Summer Jobs Connect initiatives, the CFE Fund is testing different ways to integrate banking access into existing municipal and community programs; for example, the CFE Fund is supporting local partnerships that link high school age youth and their families to the financial mainstream through safe and affordable bank accounts, as well as innovative programmatic approaches to helping unbanked people open safe and affordable accounts when they start a new job.
Pilot partners identify ways to integrate banking access into existing youth and workforce development programs, and have established local connections with financial institutions to offer bank accounts certified as meeting the Bank On National Account Standards or the Youth Account Priorities. The goal of these pilots is to learn more about how existing programs can leverage payment touchpoints to support account opening for program participants.
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 structural linkages to safe and appropriate banking products, services, and education. In the initiative’s seventh year, the CFE Fund worked with 23 city governments and their local Summer Youth Employment Program partners to provide additional job positions to local residents of predominantly low incomes between the ages of 14 and 24, as well as connect them to appropriate bank and credit union products and meaningful financial education.
Through the CFE Fund’s leadership, our city partner’s efforts and the Citi Foundation’s support of over $36 million, Summer Jobs Connect has provided over 15,000 young people with summer work experience and connected financial empowerment services. Beyond a seasonal paycheck, Summer Jobs Connect positions early job experiences as entry points for lifelong success in the financial mainstream.
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 2021 – 2022. The CFE Fund announced an online Bank On account validation and certification process; banks and credit unions across the country, at no cost, 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 and Capital One announced the winner of the Multi-City Financial Empowerment Hackathon, a national effort to create software applications (apps) focused on financial inclusion. Representing San Francisco, MEDAPulse, in partnership with the Mission Economic Development Agency, won the national competition with a tool that helps financial counselors better engage with clients by using technology to remind them of the goals that clients committed to achieving between sessions.
Through a grant from Capital One, the CFE Fund provided funding and technical assistance to Chicago, New York City and San Francisco to host regional hackathons. Combined, hackathons in these cities had over 110 participants who worked in teams to create numerous apps, including budget trackers, goal-setting applications, financial achievement badges and financial action plans.