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.

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 structural linkages to safe and appropriate banking products, services, and education. In the initiative’s seventh year, the CFE Fund is working with 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

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.

The CFE Fund and Bloomberg Philanthropies Award Technical Assistance Grants to 7 Cities Replicating the Financial Empowerment Center Model

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.