Friends and Colleagues,

2020 was an immensely difficult year where we wrestled with a raging pandemic, systemic racial injustice, and nationwide protests against police brutality, and so much more. Despite all the hardship and loss that 2020 brought, the year also offered opportunities to support one another, including those most vulnerable to and impacted by the pandemic and economic downturn such as essential workers, Black and brown communities, and people experiencing homelessness.

The San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) is most proud of our efforts to directly support San Franciscans navigate the financial impacts of COVID-19, including accessing Unemployment Insurance and COVID-19 relief payments. For example, we were able to:
  • Utilize our social media platforms to support San Francisco residents in accessing relief with one of our posts on unemployment insurance going viral, with over 1 million views, 25,000 likes, and 14,000 shares

  • Field over 200 calls through our financial coaching program, Smart Money Coaching, and help 20 people access their stimulus checks for a total of $20,400 put back in the pockets of San Franciscans

  • Lead a city-wide outreach campaign to help non-filers access their Economic Impact Payments with email and text message reminders sent to all individuals who receive public benefits in the City in partnership with the Human Services Agency

  • Support citywide cash transfer programs, including the Right to Recover program, which offers funding for those isolating due to positive COVID-19 test results
We continued to do important public policy work related to the pandemic and published a report on Saving for College During COVID-19, highlighting the impacts of the pandemic on our Kindergarten to College program. We also surveyed banks and credit unions about their response to COVID-19 and published a report with the California Reinvestment Coalition reviewing banking relief efforts for consumers and borrowers during the pandemic and offering recommendations for reform.
Beyond COVID-19 relief, we continued our work to promote financial access and inclusion across the City, helping families save for college and access safe and affordable financial products. Major highlights include:
  • Helping families save over $1.1 million for their children’s college with 1,200 new families saving due to virtual engagement strategies

  • Working with 617 youth to open bank accounts to deposit their first paychecks

  • Serving almost 600 clients through Smart Money Coaching helping them improve their credit scores or enroll in public benefits to increase their overall household income

  • Eliminating over $22,000 in debt owed by transitional aged youth experiencing homelessness
Though the year was rough and overwhelming, there were also moments of hopefulness. Things that brought a smile to our faces included:
  • A K2C parent who made deposits to the entire class’s K2C accounts for her son’s birthday instead of giving goody bags and cupcakes

  • A transitional aged youth who finally got access to housing after having her applications denied due to subprime credit with the help of her financial coach

  • A coaching client who accessed Unemployment Insurance and used the money to go back to school and increase her savings from $300 to over $3,000

  • A K2C parent who gave several of her child’s classmates $100 scholarships as a gift for graduating 5th grade
With new federal leadership and vaccines on the horizon, 2021 brings hope. OFE intends to take the lessons from 2020 – the importance of supporting the most vulnerable in our communities, the need to focus on racial equity and face anti-Black and other forms of racism head-on, the effectiveness of emergency cash transfers – and apply them to our work moving forward. We are so grateful for your continued support and partnership.

If you have any questions or comments about our work either in this past year or our plans moving forward, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can also follow OFE on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram for more updates.

In partnership,

The San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment