Issue 5/ February 2015
Letter From The President and CEO


The start of the new year brought with it the 19th gathering of the CFE Coalition in San Antonio, TX. Seven years on from the Coalition founding, I am struck by how much the original mission--cities supporting each other in advancing financial empowerment work--continues to be its leading strength. Coalition city leaders sit behind closed doors, share on-the-ground experiences and new ideas, and combine their efforts to leverage the substantial voice of 14 strong and diverse cities representing almost 20 million people. Back at home, they implement large-scale programs, changing the very infrastructure of city services and policies to advance the financial health of individuals and families. Together, and with incredibly supportive partners in the philanthropic, nonprofit, and financial services sectors, Coalition cities have truly led the charge in growing municipal financial empowerment into the new, but vibrant field it is today.


At each Coalition forum, we've seen the power of sharing work in a highly substantive, "off the record" way. Each new member--last year brought Lansing and Philadelphia into the group--has understood the importance of this open collaboration, and has both given and taken from intensive "construct a program" and "deconstruct a program" sessions. It has been especially heartening to see the resilience of the Coalition, and the deep roots that financial empowerment has grown, transcending Administration and personnel changes. 

In a tangible way, municipal financial empowerment has become a permanent part of local programs and services in cities and counties across the country and beyond. Just a few months ago, new Boston Mayor Martin Walsh launched another local Office of Financial Empowerment, joining Lansing, who launched theirs in 2013. A number of other cities across the country--including cities that are entirely new to this work--are demonstrating interest in what they can achieve through financially empowering their residents. For this reason, the CFE Fund continues to expand our technical assistance opportunities: in this issue, we highlight a number of new Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that support high-quality, large-scale municipal financial empowerment efforts. Through these RFP opportunities, we'll provide funding and technical assistance to local governments and their partners in increasing financial access through our Bank On 2.0 Innovation Fund; recognize and support a new cohort of mayoral leaders through our Next Generation Municipal Financial Empowerment Awards; and work with a new group of cities or counties to launch Financial Empowerment Center initiatives through our In-Kind Technical Assistance grants. 


Please help us spread the word by forwarding widely to your networks. And, as always, please don't hesitate to email us with your ideas and questions at




Jonathan Mintz


In November, the CFE Fund hosted its Bank On 2.0 Conference, Building a National Platform for Local Banking Access Programs, in Washington D.C. The conference brought together over 200 people representing financial institutions, leading nonprofit organizations, consumer advocates, and government agency partners, including Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray.


Discussions over the course of the day focused on how to scale Bank On programs to reach the millions of consumers still living outside the financial mainstream, and connect them to safe and appropriate financial products. Breakout sessions focused on best practices from successful Bank On coalitions; how cities are embedding banking access into social service delivery channels; and innovative solutions that leverage technology like mobile phones, which can be a primary touch point for unbanked consumers. The conference took place on the heels of the first meeting of the Bank On 2.0 Advisory Board. This new group, comprised of national leaders from across the public and private sector, is already helping us strategize around the key challenges and opportunities of municipal banking access programs. 


In addition to the success of the conference, we are excited to share news from our Bank On 2.0 Innovation Fund, magnanimously supported by JPMorgan Chase Foundation. We have awarded round one pilot funding supporting efforts to enhance banking access in rural populations to Bank On Washington and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Savannah Area (CCCS). We also have just released the Bank On 2.0 Innovation Fund's second round omnibus Request for Proposals. This round offers support for replicable research and programs aimed at increasing access to financial services in three distinct concentrations: populations with unique challenges, rent payment solutions, and direct deposit for individuals who receive regular non-employee payments from local governments. The RFP and application can be found here; proposals are due March 13.


We are thrilled to announce the Next Generation Municipal Financial Empowerment Awards, which looks to build the field of municipal financial empowerment by cultivating and supporting innovative ideas from new mayoral administrations. Through the Awards, generously supported by Capital One, the CFE Fund will provide funding and technical assistance to new mayors--defined as those taking office in 2014 or 2015--to create a detailed strategic plan for launching a financial empowerment initiative in their city. Depending on local need and mayoral interest, the selected cities could design initiatives as wide-ranging as helping residents connect to tax credits, embedding banking access into city payment streams, or assisting residents in planning for moving out of shelter, as just a few examples. The RFP can be found here, and is due Wednesday, March 18. For more information, contact Tamara Lindsay, Principal, at  


The Financial Empowerment Center initiative had an exciting 2014. Across the entire program, our partners served close to 20,000 clients in over 37,000 sessions, helping clients reduce more than $41.1 million in debt and accumulate over $5.5 million in savings since the program began.




Programs continued to find new ways to integrate financial counseling into other city services, from legal counseling to workforce development to utility payments, ensuring a steady stream of program participants and supporting the "Supervitamin" effectiveness of these services. And, as part of this multi-year Bloomberg Philanthropies partnership, the CFE Fund also provided in-kind technical assistance to a second wave of cities in 2014 developing Financial Empowerment Centers: Cleveland, the County of Hawai'i, Hartford, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, and San Francisco. As a result of this TA, Seattle, San Francisco and Cleveland have already launched Financial Empowerment Center programs, and Hawai'i's program is set to begin later this year.


NEW Financial Empowerment Center Technical Assistance In-Kind Grant

For 2015, the CFE Fund is excited to release a Request for Proposals to work with a third cohort of partners to plan for a Financial Empowerment Center initiative launch. Selected grantees will receive in-kind support and capacity building resources valued at $150,000 to work towards launching a financial counseling initiative. Interested city or county governments can apply here through our online system, and applications are due by 
March 30, 2015. We will also be holding an informational conference call for interested applicants; register for the call here.

Financial Empowerment "In The News"


Financial Inclusion Will Make Big Strides in 2015, American Banker


Nashville Center Helps Money Issues Make Sense, The Tennessean 


Improving Financial Stability One City At A Time| CFE Fund, American Express Spotlight on Change 


The CFE Fund is Hiring! 
Passionate about working with local government to help low-income families achieve financial stability? Check out our open positions here.