Issue 12   |  December 2017
Letter from the President & CEO

As 2017 barrels toward its end, I'm struck by a sense of momentum.

In our own work at the CFE Fund, this Supervitamin Quarterly issue highlights significant partner expansions in both Financial Empowerment Center and Summer Jobs Connect replication. These substantial replications represent more than new grant opportunities, more than new dots on our engagement map; they represent growing demand reflecting the momentum of the municipal financial empowerment field, itself.

Next year marks the field's 10th anniversary. In less than a decade, Offices of Financial Empowerment are sprouting up across the country; Financial Empowerment Centers are heading toward 50 city and county locations, Financial Empowerment Windows (La Ventanilla de AsesorĂ­a Financiera) have opened at Mexican consulates from Los Angeles to Omaha; active Bank On coalitions number in the dozens of localities, and so much more.

Together, we each do our part to support high quality, meaningful financial empowerment programs in local governments across the country ( and beyond!), but it's clear that the appeal and value of this work is speaking loudly for itself. Individual and family financial stability matters, indeed is fundamental, to meaningful participation in society. The momentum of all of our work is a testament to the unique and powerful role of local government in providing successful opportunities for residents to achieve that stability and growth.

Happy holidays -- here's to a 2018 full of purpose, momentum, and success!

Jonathan Mintz

Financial Empowerment Centers - FEC Public Update

The CFE Fund is working to dramatically expand the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) model through our new  FEC Public platform, bringing this proven model of free financial counseling to up to 50 local governments across the country.

With generous support from Bloomberg Philanthropies' American Cities Initiative and other funding partners, we are thrilled to announce the first cohort of 12 local government partners selected to begin planning to replicate the FEC model for their local residents: Akron, OH; Detroit, MI; Greenville County, SC; Houston, TX; Memphis, TN; Miami, FL; New Haven, CT; Pittsburgh, PA; Sacramento, CA; San Francisco, CA; Shreveport, LA; and Syracuse, NY. Read more about the FEC Public announcement  here.  

FEC Public partnerships generated significant local coverage, including in The Daily Orange and Business Journal News Network in Syracuse, NY; Model D and Michigan Chronicle in Detroit, MI; WBTV in Greenville, SC; The South Pittsburgh Reporter in Pittsburgh, PA; Shreveport News in Shreveport, LA;,   WKSU,   Akron Beacon Journal, Crain's Cleveland Business, and Akron Community News in Akron, OH; and Memphis Daily News, and WMC-TV in Memphis, TN.

The CFE Fund is also excited to launch its new FEC Affiliates Network that will bring together cities, counties, states, and nonprofit organizations who provide other government-connected models of free financial counseling and coaching, learning from these experiences to further the professionalizing of the field. The application is now open for the FEC Affiliates Network. 

To learn more about FEC Public, contact Tamara Lindsay, Principal.

The CFE Fund recently announced several new Bank On coalition resources.  

First, the CFE Fund announced the selection of Bank On Fellows, pictured above, to lead five local Bank On coalitions. These fellowships will support dedicated coalition leadership to advance local operations and generate best practices for coalitions across the country on expanding access to safe, appropriate financial products and services. The CFE Fund, with generous support from Wells Fargo, awarded two-year, full-time coalition staff fellowship support to coalitions in Houston, TX (Bank On Houston); Mobile, AL (Bank On South Alabama); New Haven, CT (Bank On New Haven); Summit County, OH (Bank On Rubber City); and Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota, FL (Bank On Suncoast).

In addition, the CFE Fund released new funding opportunities to support local Bank On coalitions. Applications are now being accepted on a rolling basis for the CFE Fund's Bank On Capacity Grant Fund, which offers grants of up to $10,000 to assist Bank On coalitions in expanding banking access locally; the Bank On Renewal Capacity Grant Fund, offering up to $20,000 for current and past Bank On Capacity Grant recipients; and the Bank On Innovation Grant Fund, for grants of up to $50,000 to support the development of replicable, large-scale programs that connect underserved populations to certified accounts. Click here to apply!

The CFE Fund also released two new chapters of the Bank On Coalition Playbook!  Local Coalition Strategies for Navigating Financial Institution Partnerships and Account Certification provides insight into a range of approaches coalitions have used to engage with their financial institution partners. The  Bank On Coalition Logic Model chapter offers a framework for coalition leaders to organize their efforts for local success, providing a tool for planning and implementation as well as for fundraising and evaluation. Be sure to view and share the fully updated Coalition Playbook!

Lastly, the CFE Fund is inviting local Bank On coalitions to take this brief  communications survey to help us assess additional coalition needs.

To learn more about Bank On, please contact  Paige Diner or  David Rothstein on the CFE Fund's Bank On team.

Updates From 

The CFE Fund is expanding our Summer Jobs Connect (SJC) technical assistance to additional cities to help them add financial education and banking access to their summer job programs. Selected cities will receive technical assistance as a part of a 10-month SJC Technical Assistance Planning Award, followed by the opportunity to apply for a one-year SJC Implementation Grant. Applications will be accepted through COB on Tuesday, January 9, 2018.

Earlier this month, the CFE Fund and the Citi Foundation, which supports SJC, joined municipal partners and other stakeholders to discuss integrating banking and financial empowerment into youth employment programs at our Summer Jobs Connect convening in Washington, DC. At the convening, the CFE Fund released a comprehensive report on the SJC initiative-- Summer Jobs Connect: Where Strong Financial Futures Begin. The report summarizes lessons learned from the first four years of SJC implementation with our thirteen city partners, along with research on youth attitudes and beliefs about banking and saving. The report is a detailed tool for local governments and their community partners looking to add banking and other financial empowerment strategies into their Summer Youth Employment Programs.

Over the summer, SJC youth participants also shared their banking and savings stories this summer through a dynamic #SummerJobsConnect Twitter campaign. Watch this short video to hear directly from these young adults about what they learned and experienced this summer. 

To learn more about the Summer Jobs Connect initiative, contact I-Hsing Sun, Chief Program Officer.

Reflections on Building Financial Empowerment in Lansing, Michigan
By City of Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero
Before 2013, when the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund selected Lansing as one of five cities to replicate the Financial Empowerment Center model, my team and I did our best to connect residents to resources that could help. We tried to help because it was the right thing to do - because we care about the people of our city and want them to have support in a crisis.

Too often, though, these referrals focused on a "fish" and not a "fishing lesson" - on solving the short-term crisis rather than delivering long-term, sustainable stability. The "fish" we offer are critical components of the safety net, but we needed to go deeper, to root causes of instability. Normally, we would look to the nonprofit world for an existing service we could support at the government level. But with the Financial Empowerment Center, we had the opportunity to lead the effort, and to mold it in a way that was specific to the needs of our city.

Today, I and my team at the City of Lansing believe that economic development begins at the household level. I thank the CFE Fund for giving us the opportunity to learn this on the ground by funding the first three years of our Financial Empowerment Center. We have the data to prove that the model works, but we also have countless stories of successful FEC clients. Take Matthew, who was released from prison in June of 2016. In six months, he secured a full time job, opened a safe and affordable bank account, and purchased a car and a home. He has saved $1,000 for emergencies, and has opened a secured credit card on which he is maintaining on-time payments. With his counselor's help, Matthew resolved an identity theft issue that occurred during his incarceration.

With the Financial Empowerment Center now "baked in" to City government, and funded by the general fund, we have added other supports and other wonderful partners to help us deliver services to Lansing residents. One example is the launch of Lansing SAVE in January 2015, a college savings account opened at kindergarten for all students in the Lansing School District, in partnership with the District and Michigan State University Federal Credit Union. We also work with Lansing Promise and the Capital Area College Access Network to ensure wrap-around support of our young people and their education.

To be invited to join the CFE coalition was a tremendous honor, sitting at the same table with cities like New York and San Francisco, whose city governments created these tremendously successful municipal financial empowerment strategies we so often emulate. To co-chair the CFE Coalition with San Francisco these past two years has been a wonderful experience as well. Lansing has gone from "new kid on the Financial Empowerment block" to a state and national leader in the field, giving back what was so generously given to us.

As I hand over the baton to Mayor-elect Andy Schor on January 1, I am proud of the foundation we've established to ensure the best possible financial life for our city's residents. I am excited to see where his administration, and those to follow, will take it from here. I am grateful for the past, present and future guidance and support of the CFE Fund and CFE Coalition.

News from the CFE Coalition

Boston OFE Helps Residents Build Credit and Open Bank Accounts
Boston's Office of Financial Empowerment just launched two important initiatives: Boston Builds Credit is a first-of-its-kind, citywide credit building initiative with the goal of assisting 25,000 residents to improve or achieve a prime score of 660+ by 2025;  OFE also launched Bank On Boston, which will help residents access affordable, non-predatory banking products. 

Nashville Financial Empowerment Center and US Community Credit Union Will Partner on New Small-Dollar Loan
Last month, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry's Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee releasedreport with recommendations on building a more financially inclusive city by increasing financial literacy in public schools, expanding and professionalizing financial empowerment tools, and increasing access to the financial mainstream. Following a key recommendation in the report, the Nashville FEC is partnering with a local CDFI to launch an Opportunity Loan Program, which will provide consumers with a loan up to $4,000. The interest rate and loan amount will be based on income, credit score, and ability to repay, and consistent payment will be positively reported to credit reporting agencies. 

NYC OFE Expands Financial Counseling to Support Affordable Housing
In partnership with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), NYC's Office of Financial Empowerment has renewed  "Ready to Rent", a program providing New Yorkers free financial counseling and assistance with affordable housing applications. The program was first implemented in 2016 to assess whether financial counseling could help affordable housing applicants submit a stronger application. In addition, HPD's Housing Ambassadors program, which helps people prepare and apply for affordable housing, has also been extended.

Upcoming CFE Fund Events

New Research: What Counts as Saving in Financial Counseling Approaches and Outcomes

With generous support from Capital One, the CFE Fund engaged in a two-city pilot with Nashville, TN and Philadelphia, PA to better understand how Financial Empowerment Center clients are saving and ultimately inform new savings indicators for financial counseling success. Please join us for a discussion of the pilot results and implications for financial counseling and coaching efforts, including those of our  FEC Public partners. This event is hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and will be held February 15, 2018 -- RSVP now!

In Memorium
The CFE Fund is deeply saddened by the recent passing of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. His leadership of the City of San Francisco and support of financial empowerment efforts as CFE Coalition Co-Chair helped immensely both to better the lives of local residents and to move our field forward. He will be remembered, and he will be missed. 

Financial Empowerment "In The News" 
Stay Tuned...

In 2018, the CFE Fund will open new opportunities to bring financial empowerment to more local governments, including through our FEC Public and CityStart initiatives... and more!