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.
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.
Financial Empowerment Centers offer free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling to enable residents to address their financial needs and plan for their futures.
In this February 2014 press release, the CFE Fund and Bloomberg Philanthropies announce a second wave of In-Kind Technical Assistance grants to seven cities: Cleveland, OH; Hartford, CT; Hawai’i County, HI; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA. Participating cities raised private funds or redirected public funds to support direct program costs. To supplement these city efforts, the CFE Fund will provide robust technical assistance and capacity building resources to each city, fueling the expansion of the model and helping the cities to replicate and customize the public counseling model to meet local needs. The technical assistance grants come in response to overwhelming demand for Financial Empowerment Centers following the success of the expansion of the Financial Empowerment Centers to five cities in March 2013.