Issue 10   |   March 2017
Letter from the President & CEO
A couple of us at the CFE Fund earlier this month had the pleasure of participating in multiple conferences and meetings in Alberta, Canada. As our partnership with the Canadian national nonprofit organization   Prosper Canada progresses and matures, we are increasingly meeting with and deeply impressed by local, provincial, and national financial empowerment efforts across the land in "our neighbor to the north."

We saw up close how colleagues from Alberta such as Momentum, United Way of Calgary and Area and United Way of Alberta Capital Region are working determinedly with elected officials and government agencies to introduce financial empowerment into public programming streams, and at the same time focusing on the consumer protection side of the coin, particularly their own metastasizing payday lending experiences. And we heard mayors like Don Iveson of Edmonton embrace the mandate, terming poverty "a choice we make as a society to allow."

International work is relatively new to our efforts, but is proving increasingly rewarding. As with our Organization of American States partnership last year to help the country of Antigua and Barbuda open up public Financial Empowerment Centers, our work in Canada both hones U.S. best practices and advances our own understanding by expanding our perspective. 

To a significant extent, the challenges - and stakes - of individual and family financial stability are proving universal. The regulatory and commercial financial landscape may differ, and so some of the priorities, but the hunger to address these challenges with data-proven, publicly-scaled solutions matches the strong and growing appetite of our own country's local leaders. 

Now is an important time to hone these strategies, particularly teasing out the core of their appeal in different political lexicons, and we're grateful for our Canadian colleagues' enthusiastic engagements. 

Thank you, as always, for your interest, support and partnership.

Jonathan Mintz

Registration for the 2017 Bank On National Conference is now open! This national conference will be held May 23, 2017 at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Keynote speakers will include both Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Martin Gruenberg and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Senior Deputy Comptroller for Compliance and Community Affairs Grovetta Gardineer. The Conference brings together key stakeholders from multiple sectors across the country: local Bank On coalition program leads and their community partners, city administrators, financial institutions large and small, federal banking regulators, national nonprofit organizations, philanthropic partners, consumer advocates, researchers, and more. Conference topics will include innovations in safe and affordable financial products, strategies for banking access connectivity, and measuring banking access success. We hope you'll join us in Washington, DC!

Earlier this year, the CFE Fund released its second two-year Bank On National Account Standards, along with the unveiling of an online validation and certification portal and distribution of the first chapters of a new   technical assistance Playbook for local coalitions. The 5 largest financial institutions in the country have validated and certified accounts; the CFE Fund has already started receiving both bank and credit union product submissions for validation by our contract partner, the National Consumer Law Center. Review the Bank On National Account Standards to see if your institutions has a product that is eligible for validation, and then   submit your financial institution product now--or encourage your financial institution partners to do so! In addition, we hope that coalitions will find the   Bank On Coalition Playbook a useful new resource to support banking access success. In addition to the National Account Standards, currently-released chapters include   Guiding Principles for the Bank On movement, as well as a template   Statement of Financial Institution Partnership Principles  for articulating partnership expectations between local Bank On coalitions and financial institutions.

Finally, the CFE Fund continues to accept applications for our  Bank On Capacity Grant Fund, generously seed funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co., which supports local coalitions in adopting the Bank On National Account Standards and continuing coalition operations. Apply now!

Financial Empowerment Centers Update
The evaluation report for the CFE Fund's Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) initiative, generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will be released in the coming months. The report provides an in-depth look at the counseling process and how counseling was successfully adapted to different city contexts, as well as factors related to client outcome achievement. Based on findings from the 22,000 clients who attended FEC counseling during the report period, here's a sneak peek of some key findings related to debt:
  • Overall, FEC clients reduced a total of $22,545,564 in debt.
  • At intake, clients working on debt issues had average non-mortgage debt of $28,946.
  • The average amount of debt each client reduced was $7,214.
  • Feeling control over one's finances was significantly correlated with the likelihood of reducing debt: the more control clients reported they felt, the more likely they were to reduce debt.
Stay tuned for other fascinating results, like the impact of being unbanked on opening a bank account, establishing credit and increasing savings during counseling.

Make sure you and your partners are on our mailing list (sign up through our website) to receive the report. Also, if you'd like to organize a briefing for your organization on the Financial Empowerment Center evaluation results, please contact Tamara Lindsay, Principal.

The CFE Fund soon will be announcing exciting additional opportunities to bring FECs to your city--stay tuned!
Updates From Summer Jobs Connect

Earlier this month, the CFE Fund and the Citi Foundation  announced additional ongoing support for the Summer Jobs Connect initiative. The Citi Foundation committed an additional $5 million to the initiative, which embeds banking access and targeted financial education into municipal Summer Youth Employment Programs. Over four years, the Citi Foundation has invested nearly $19 million in this initiative, supporting over 8,600 youth jobs as well as access to financial education and banking. The Citi Foundation's support was announced at the Winter 2017 Summer Jobs Connect Learning Community meeting, which brought together Summer Jobs Connect partners to share best practices and lessons learned.

In addition, the CFE Fund also announced an expansion to include additional cities to this initiative. Given overwhelming demand from cities across the country, the CFE Fund released an RFP to expand the opportunity and assist other cities seeking to replicate SJC in their communities. The CFE Fund is excited to announce that Baltimore, MD; Houston, TX; Philadelphia, PA; Savannah, GA; and Virginia Beach, VA have been chosen to join this Summer Jobs Connect Expansion Cohort, which includes a Six Month Technical Assistance Planning Award (for Summer 2017) and the opportunity to apply for a One Year SJC Implementation Grant (for Summer 2018). 

For more information on this initiative, contact I-Hsing Sun, Chief Program Officer.

Consumer Financial Protection Initiative 
Following a Request for Letters of Interest released in January, the CFE Fund received significant interest from over a dozen cities to partner to build out local consumer financial protection departments. Over the coming months, the CFE Fund will work with partner cities to determine local enforcement best practices, cost models, engagement strategies, and future funding support.

In April, the CFE Fund will gather approximately rwo dozen stakeholder experts, including state Attorneys General, federal regulators, academics and philanthropic partners, in Battle Creek, MI. This daylong event, hosted by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will build momentum for the initiative and inform future implementation efforts.

To learn more, contact Kant Desai, Principal.
News from the CFE Coalition
Miami Dedicates City Tax Levy to Embed Banking Access in Summer Youth Employment & Financial Empowerment Program. For three years, the City of Miami has participated in the CFE Fund's Summer Jobs Connect initiative, which adds banking access and targeted financial education to summer youth employment programs. For this fourth programmatic year, the City of Miami has dedicated city funds, in addition to the Citi Foundation/CFE Fund support, as part of its budget to hire local youth-doubling the size of Miami's program.

Lansing FEC Outreach Specialist Interviewed on Michigan Department of Corrections Podcast. Robert Engel, the Lansing FEC Outreach Specialist who oversees Bank On and provides Child Support Modification assistance to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated clients, spoke about his work on the Michigan Department of Corrections Podcast (MDOC) "Field Days" Podcast.

New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) announced charges against Major World, one of the largest local used car dealerships, for using deceptive financing and sales practices that resulted in predatory lending targeting immigrants and New Yorkers with low incomes. With auto loan debt continuing to rise, New York City is using its licensing authority, as well as education and advocacy, to tackle the problem on the municipal level. DCA's Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) will explore opportunities to educate consumers and improve access to safe and affordable products, as well as help consumers establish and improve their credit and build savings.

Bank On is Moving the Marketplace 
and Building the Field
By Naomi Camper, Managing Director, Head, Office of Nonprofit Engagement, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

With March Madness in the air, those of us keeping score can't help but be impressed by how many points the CFE Fund has put on the board so early in the year. CFE Fund's Bank On initiative has released its 2017 National Account Standards, distributed the new Bank On Coalition Playbook and created a third-party online portal to validate and certify financial products that meet the National Account Standards - all in the first quarter of 2017.  

JPMorgan Chase is especially excited about the new validation portal, which is a great addition to the Bank On movement. We see strong signs that banks of all sizes are developing products that meet the Bank On standard. Third-party certification is a critical tool for ensuring that banks large and small are able to offer Bank On accounts. While banks compete for customers in many respects, we must stand united in our commitment to providing access to safe, affordable accounts to all communities.

JPMorgan Chase was one of Bank On 2.0's earliest supporters, and we know from our own experience the value of the Bank On name in helping customers feel confident in their product choice. Five years ago, we introduced Chase Liquid®, our general purpose reloadable prepaid card - one of the first products to meet Bank On's national standards.

But we also know that national product standards alone are just a starting point.
To help ensure that local governments and their nonprofit partners can participate in the Bank On movement, we support the Bank On Capacity Grant Fund, which assists the leadership of local Bank On coalitions in expanding banking access and connecting residents to accounts that meet the Bank On National Account Standards. To date, 16 coalitions have received sub-grants through this fund, including the Houston coalition, which received a grant to support coalition building and marketing activities, and the coalition in Louisville, which is leveraging the grant to integrate Bank On into municipal initiatives such as free tax prep and financial education. And there are more in the pipeline.

Bank On coalitions help leaders to promote asset building and financial empowerment not only through their efforts on the ground but also through the learning network that has developed between cities. The CFE Fund regularly convenes coalition members to share what's actually working, including at events like the upcoming Bank On National Conference. The new Coalition Playbook  will help to facilitate these conversations and strengthen that peer network by documenting and distributing best practices.

In the same way that Bank On coalitions build relationships across cities, they also strengthen relationships within them. Through Bank On, local governments and nonprofit organizations are discovering new opportunities to collaborate.
Safe, affordable banking products are a critical foundation for vibrant communities. But products alone aren't enough. The CFE Fund's leadership in building the capacity of local governments and nonprofits to work together with banks has the potential to be the game changer. While banking may not spring to mind when you think of March Madness, keep an eye on the Bank On movement - with players from the nonprofit, private and government sectors all making a full court press, Bank On looks like a winner.
Join Our Team!
The CFE Fund is hiring! We are looking for an all-star Communications Associate (minimum 2 years experience, based in NYC) as well as multiple positions to support our Financial Empowerment Center initiative: Technical Assistance Associate/Senior Associate and Database Senior Associate . Apply now!
Financial Empowerment "In The News"