Financial Inclusion


  • Heidi Goldberg
December 22, 2016 - (4 min read)

The YEF Institute provides financial inclusion opportunities for US cities in order to promote financial equity as well as financial literacy through technical assistance projects and services. The goal with opening these channels for access is to remove pre-existing barriers to this knowledge and to educate present and future generations.

Cities Addressing Fines and Fees Equitably (CAFFE)

Whether triggered by courts, unpaid bills for city services, or other administrative actions, municipal fines and fees can impose a crushing burden on cities’ low-income residents. Cities frequently miss key opportunities in their current approaches to fines and fees as well – residents who are unable to pay fines and fees often struggle with other debt and financial burdens and may not be aware of financial empowerment services available to them in their communities.

NLC”s two-year technical assistance project on municipal fines and fees will focus on a six-city cohort, which will receive grants and technical assistance to assess their use of local fines and fees and develop collections strategies that incorporate financial empowerment interventions. NLC will draw lessons from its LIFT-UP program model to help these cities connect utility debt collection practices with financial empowerment services and thereby improve families’ overall financial well-being.

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City-Led Children’s Savings Account (CSA)

In August 2015, the YEF Institute launched Preparing for Postsecondary Education through Children’s Savings Accounts, an 11-city learning collaborative. Supported by the Charles Stuart Mott Foundation, the goal of the learning collaborative is to deepen city leaders’ understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with the use of universal, automatic, and matched Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs). In 2016, the YEF Institute is builiding on the learning collaborative with a city-led CSA Peer Network and learning collaborative 2.0.

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City Financial Inclusion Efforts: A National Overview

Based on over 400 responses in 2014, the report City Financial Inclusion Efforts: A National Overview, revealed that cities across the country are pursuing diverse and innovative strategies to improve the financial well-being of their residents. Building upon this in-depth scan and resulting report, the YEF Institute recently launched a two-year technical assistance initiative with support from MetLife Foundation called Financial Inclusion Systems and City Leadership.

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Local Interventions for Financial Empowerment Through Utility Payments (LIFT-UP)

With support from the Ford Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Center for Financial Services Innovation, NLC conducted a two-year pilot project in five cities to test a new strategy for cities to help residents reduce utility debt. LIFT-UP offers city leaders a “win-win” scenario, allowing city utilities to recoup lost revenue due to unpaid bills, while connecting residents who are behind on their utility bills with financial empowerment services to help them improve their overall financial well-being. Read and explore the Interim Executive Summary on this project.

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Task Force on Economic Mobility and Opportunity

NLC’s Task Force on Economic Mobility and Opportunity seeks to raise the visibility of local efforts that have the potential to increase economic mobility, expand economic opportunity and reduce income inequality in cities across the nation.

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Financial Inclusion Systems and City Leadership

This new two-year project with support from MetLife Foundation will provide technical assistance and peer learning opportunities to eight cities as they develop innovative strategies for families to achieve financial stability.

Youth Workforce-Financial Capability Project

With funding from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, the YEF Institute is conducting a year-long, multi-pronged project to explore ways that municipal leaders can support the integration of financial capability into youth workforce programs. The YEF Institute will examine the roles city leaders, workforce boards, banks, credit unions and other partners play in ensuring that young jobseekers have access to financial knowledge and services, and will identify best practices for integrating financial capability into youth employment programs.

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