Financial Empowerment Center Replication Initiative

Financial Empowerment Centers (FEC) offer professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service to enable residents to address their financial challenges and needs as well as plan for their futures. In partnership with seed funder Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Capital One, The JPB Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, the CFE Fund is promoting FEC replication through cohorts of local leaders who are developing, launching, and implementing financial counseling as a free public service, along with strategic research projects to enhance the success of financial counseling.

The CFE Fund is supporting cohorts of new cities or counties interested in launching a Financial Empowerment Center, learn more!  Get in touch to join as a supportive funding partner.

The Financial Empowerment Center Model

Financial Empowerment Center clients receive free, one-on-one professional counseling assistance with money management, budgeting, reducing debt, establishing and improving credit, connecting to safe and affordable banking services, building savings, and referrals to other services and organizations. Professionally trained counselors support their clients in navigating complex financial challenges and choices, helping them identify and meet present challenges and future ambitions. Local governments offer FEC financial counseling as a free stand-alone public service, but also via integration into other social services including housing and foreclosure prevention services, workforce development, prisoner reentry, benefits access, domestic violence prevention, and more.

Financial Empowerment Center Evaluation Findings

In 2013, the CFE Fund awarded its first grants to replicate the model in five cities through a $16.2 million, 3-year investment by Bloomberg Philanthropies. An Evaluation of Financial Empowerment Centers: Building People’s Financial Stability As a Public Service, demonstrates the success of the 5-city implementation, drawing on data from 22,000 clients who participated in 57,000 counseling sessions across the first 5 city replication partners.

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 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

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 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.