- As part of its CityStart initiative, the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund has chosen 10 cities to receive grant awards for their municipal financial empowerment strategies to promote residents' financial health. The recipients are Albuquerque, NM; Anchorage, AK; Dallas, TX; Durham, NC; El Paso, TX; Fort Worth, TX; Portland, OR; Rochester, NY; Saint Paul, MN; and Tulsa, OK.
- The cities each receive $20,000 plus six to nine months of technical assistance. The program gives cities insights about the effect of financial instability on residents, communities and municipal budgets, with the goal of employing strategies to improve residents' financial health.
- The 10 cities all will devise and host local financial empowerment boot camps in partnership with their CFE technical assistance teams. The boot camps identify and highlight the cities' financial empowerment opportunities and approaches.
The CFE Fund launched six years ago and since then has granted more than $34 million to local governments. It supports municipal efforts to improve households' financial stability by leveraging opportunities that are unique to local government. It helps cities to "identify, develop, fund, implement and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources."
While some people believe each person's financial situation is their own responsibility, these programs recognize that cities operate like a delicate ecosystem and a problem that affects a handful of residents can easily tip the balance, in addition to spreading to other people. Low-income status is one of those problems that can have a ripple effect and also can be difficult to rise out of without assistance or guidance.
Economic divides are growing within cities. Along with racial and social divides, they're considered a major destabilizing factor for cities. Cities that implement smart technologies increasingly are taking into account equitable service and asset distribution to avoid creating or deepening a digital divide, which also can contribute to an economic divide.
By devising strategies that empower residents to understand and achieve greater financial health, cities essentially are investing in their own stability.
"Cities control a host of policies, programs, and funding streams that can transform the lives of residents with low incomes on a large scale. Across the nation, more and more city leaders are embracing high-quality financial empowerment programs to improve the financial stability of their city residents and communities," Jonathan Mintz, president and CEO of the CFE Fund, said in a statement.