Issue 15   |  December 2018
Letter from the President & CEO
Dear Colleagues -

In late October, we were thrilled to share some long-awaited and impressive data with banking access stakeholders - over 600,000 Bank On certified accounts were opened in 2017 across just four partner financial institutions, with a stunning three million certified accounts opened to date across those four institutions alone.

The magnitude of these numbers is matched in many ways by their very existence. In the past, local Bank On coalition efforts to gather account data have been problematic: financial institution partners were asked to report different sets of data to different coalition stakeholders, while other times coalitions were unable to collect any data at all. Reporting financial institutions expressed discomfort with different asks, with "apples to oranges" comparison concerns, and sensitivities over proprietary data. And over time, Bank On stakeholders' desire for data commonly gave way to skepticism of any reported numbers' correlation to coalition impact.

In partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the CFE Fund and its four pilot partners - Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo - came together over two years to figure out how a centralized data collection platform could demonstrate the takeup and usage of Bank On certified accounts. This data represents the next step in the growth and professionalization of the national Bank On movement - giving partners the ability to quantify the impact of Bank On nationally and locally, as well as how consumers are opening and using safe, affordable transaction accounts.

At first blush, it might seem surprising that these four financial institutions - competitors in the financial services marketplace - would come together and share sensitive business data. The Federal Reserve played a key role in facilitating this reporting. Their status as a trusted regulatory partner with rigorous data confidentiality and reporting protocols provided a legitimacy that enabled senior leadership and key stakeholders within financial institutions to feel comfortable participating in the group process.

In fact this experience, and the data itself, become a powerful platform for camaraderie among competitors. Drawn by shared goals, they banded together to advance the ability of the Bank On field to capture meaningful data. The group's collegiality was on full display last month in St. Louis when they presented together on a panel at Federal Reserve headquarters. At the same time, buoyed by internal motivations, these representatives also benefited individually, finding that they could benchmark internal account data (which only they knew) against aggregate reported data.

We look forward to expanding this national data reporting opportunity, to learning more about how un- and underbanked people are opening and using Bank On certified accounts, and to the continued professionalization of the banking access field so dedicated to helping millions of people thrive in the financial mainstream.

Thanks, as always, for your interest and support.

Jonathan Mintz

In October, the CFE Fund, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, announced exciting results from our new Bank On data pilot. This pilot collected and measured quantitative data on 2017 Bank On certified account usage at four pilot financial institutions with certified accounts: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. The pilot aimed to identify the data that could be collected and establish a data collection process; the pilot also highlighted the benefits of a central reporting system for financial institutions and their coalition partners across the country. Key findings included that nearly 600,000 certified accounts were opened newly in 2017, and that 72% of certified accounts opened in 2017 were opened by customers new to the pilot institutions.

Want to play with the data yourself? A newly published Bank On Coalition Playbook Chapter, 2017 Bank On Data Pilot: Accessing the Data, details how Bank On coalitions can use this data locally to support their work to expand banking access and the availability of Bank On accounts locally. To learn more, and to watch a webinar on this report and pilot, visit

In October, in New York City, the CFE Fund convened Bank On coalition leaders from across the country to network and share best practices for coalition success. Supported by Bank of America, this training was the first national opportunity for coalition heads from across the country to focus entirely on local leadership.

The CFE Fund, with ongoing and generous support from seed funder JPMorgan Chase, along with TD Bank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo, announced multiple grant opportunities to which Bank On coalition leaders can apply for support:

Bank On Fellowship
The CFE Fund's Bank On Fellowship Program, generously supported by Wells Fargo, provides 2:1 match funding of up to $45,000 per year for two years to Bank On coalitions to support a full-time staff position (a "Fellow") to lead their coalition's activities. Applications submitted by 12/3 are currently under review. 

Bank On Startup Grant
The CFE Fund's Bank On Startup Grant supports new or newly re-launched Bank On Coalitions in laying the foundation and developing the necessary infrastructure for coalition success. The CFE Fund is  currently accepting applications for this funding opportunity, and will make grants of up to $5,000 on a rolling basis.

Bank On Capacity Grant 
The CFE Fund's Bank On Capacity Grant aims to assist leadership of local Bank On coalitions in expanding banking access. Capacity grants now can be as high as $25,000, and applicants should commit to a staff member dedicating at least 50% (0.5 FTE) of his or her time leading the Bank On coalition. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. 

Save the Date for the 2019 National Bank On Conference, May 29th in Washington, D.C.
The CFE Fund's biennial Bank On National Conference brings together key stakeholders from multiple sectors across the country: local Bank On coalition program leads and their community partners, city administrators, financial institutions large and small, federal banking regulators, national nonprofit organizations, philanthropic partners, consumer advocates, researchers, and more. We are excited to convene the field again in 2019 - please save May 29, 2019 and plan to join us in Washington, D.C.!
In October, the CFE Fund announced the selection of nine additional local governments to replicate the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) model under the national FEC Public platform. Selected municipalities include: Atlanta, GA; Aurora, IL; Baltimore, MD; the County of Hawai'i, HI; Erie, PA; Polk County, IA; Roanoke, VA; Rochester, NY; and Washington, DC. These local governments will work to launch free, professional one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service for residents in need. In October, CFE Fund convened this second group of Planning Partners, along with expert FEC partners, in New York City for a two-day intensive training to kick off this next phase.

The CFE Fund, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Wells Fargo, The JPB Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, and Capital One, is working to expand the FEC model to as many as 50 local governments. The CFE Fund provides grant support, intensive technical assistance, and a vibrant national learning community to help local government partners plan, launch, and sustain Financial Empowerment Centers for their residents.

Of the first cohort of planning partners from last year, cities are now moving into the implementation phase of launching their FEC, with Akron, OH already out of the gate. In addition, the CFE Fund recently launched its new national FEC database that serves as a counseling tool as well as a data collection and analysis platform.

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


The CFE Fund's CityStart initiative, generously supported by JPMorgan Chase and others, offers mayors and their administrations a structured approach to identify financial empowerment goals, convene stakeholders for sustainable success, develop actionable strategies, and ultimately craft an actionable blueprint rooted in local insights and opportunities. The CFE Fund is currently working with ten new CityStart cities: Albuquerque, NM; Anchorage, AK: Dallas, TX; Durham, NC; El Paso, TX; Fort Worth, TX; Portland, OR; Rochester, NY; Saint Paul, MN; and Tulsa, OK. This Fall, CFE Fund staff have been facilitating intensive bootcamps in these cities to kick off financial empowerment efforts locally.

To learn more about CityStart, please contact Tamara Lindsay , Principal.

The CFE Fund's Summer Jobs Connect (SJC) initiative, generously funded by the Citi Foundation, connects over 110,000 low-income youth each year with summer jobs and access to appropriate bank and credit union products and meaningful financial education.
In October, at the end of the initiative's fifth year, the CFE Fund convened its 16 city partners to share best practices and resources and discuss banking access strategies for their summer youth employment programs.

At the convening, the CFE Fund released three videos that detail the experiences of SJC participants as they worked their summer job, engaged in financial education, opened bank accounts, built savings, and more. Watch New York City SJC participant Nicole's experience here:

Summer Jobs Connect, Where Strong Financial Futures Begin: Nicole's Story
Summer Jobs Connect, Where Strong Financial Futures Begin: Nicole's Story

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

Consumer Financial Protection Initiative
Denver, Nashville, and Salt Lake City have made significant progress in the development of their new consumer complaint systems under the CFE Fund's Consumer Financial Protection Initiative, supported by seed funder W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Salt Lake City finalized its new intake system and is planning a public launch in mid-December, and Denver and Nashville are actively completing their initial development and anticipate a public launch in early 2019. 

All three cities are continuing to explore strategies to enhance their investigation and enforcement capabilities. Salt Lake City is focused on developing new procedures to investigate and enforce existing business regulations including specific business licenses and an ordinance prohibiting false or deceptive advertising. Denver is working with key stakeholders to acquire new authority to investigate businesses that engage in deceptive practices and enforce civil violations.

To learn more about the Consumer Financial Protection Initiative, contact Kant Desai, Principal .

The Present and Future of Bank On Account Data
By: Daniel Davis,
Assistant Vice President and Community Affairs Officer,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
At the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, our community development team works to promote the economic resilience and mobility of households and communities that are often underserved. It is difficult to achieve economic resilience and mobility without financial security, and financial security can seem insurmountable when households are excluded from the financial mainstream. Our team believes an important way to foster financial security is by encouraging access to safe and affordable financial products and services. The availability and use of these products and services affects the overall economic health of a community and that is why our team is interested in the Bank On movement. We seek to support stable, thriving communities, which are comprised of stable, thriving households, and Bank On can help.

For a number of years, our team has partnered with local Bank On coalitions within our seven-state footprint by collecting local data on Bank On affiliated accounts. At times, this data has been inconsistent across and within coalitions in its timing, the metrics used and the actual data reported which makes it challenging to capture a comprehensive view of Bank On data. So when the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund came to us in 2016 and asked if it was feasible to establish a platform onto which all financial institutions offering Bank On certified accounts could report their data, we were eager to explore options.
Earlier this year, after more than two years of conversations with individual financial institutions, advisory board members and numerous colleagues at the St. Louis Fed and within the Federal Reserve System, we rolled out a pilot data collection study. Four financial institutions  Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, US Bank, and Wells Fargo  made the pilot study possible by voluntarily entering into data sharing agreements with the St. Louis Fed. The purpose of the pilot study was two-fold. First, we wanted to determine whether Bank On account data could be collected in a secure, consistent way and, second, we wanted to better understand the demand for and use of Bank On accounts around the country by having a large enough sample size to describe national trends.
The partnership with the CFE Fund and the four financial institutions was collegial and the camaraderie among all of the partners was strong. Through an iterative process, metrics were settled upon and data collection commenced.
The good news is that the process for data collection worked. The great news is that all of the partners involved were amazed with the results. In 2017, 1.3 million Bank On certified accounts were open, with almost 600,000 opened in 2017 alone. These accounts represent over 26,000 ZIP codes, or more than 60 percent of the country.
One of the outputs from the pilot study is a report the St. Louis Fed co-released with the CFE Fund in October. This report discusses the combined data of the four financial institutions and outlines the full spectrum of metrics we used to look at account usage. The data file from the report, which is available for download, has the data aggregated at the ZIP code level where there are three or more financial institutions reporting. This ZIP code level data will be helpful for local coalitions to see where Bank On activity is taking place and where it is lagging behind.
A big takeaway from the data collection process is that it is feasible to collect data in a secure and consistent manner. We also learned a centralized data collection process is desirable because it eliminates the burden on individual financial institutions to report to multiple Bank On coalitions.On the data itself, the big takeaway is that supply is meeting demand. The demand for and use of Bank On accounts is significant.
As the FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households shows, the unbanked rate in the United States is 6.5 percent and the underbanked rate is 18.7 percent, both of which is higher than we would like. However, both rates have dropped in the last five years  the unbanked rate is down 1.2 percentage points since 2013, and underbanked rate has dropped 1.3 percentage points. Of course, we cannot say increased uptake of Bank On accounts is a causal effect behind the decline in unbanked and underbanked rates, but there may be a correlation.
This pilot study shows that households are becoming banked and doing so in accounts that are safe and with low-to-no fees. This bodes well for the financial security of households and communities that are often underserved.

News from the CFE Coalition
Boston OFE Prepares for Tax Season for People With Disabilities
In partnership with Deaf Inc., the National Disability Institute and the Mayor's Commission for People with Disabilities, The Boston Tax Help Coalition will provide 6 American Sign Language (ASL) Super Tax Saturdays and an ASL Asset Summit in the spring.

City of Philadelphia Benefits Centers Serves 110,000 Clients
Benefits Data Trust, Philadelphia's Office of Community Empowerment's benefits access partner, celebrated 10 years of co-operating BenePhilly Centers, serving 110,000 clients. BenePhilly Centers helped eligible households earn an average of $6,000 in benefits per year.

NYC Releases Report Examining Factors Contributing to Student Loan Distress Across New York City Neighborhoods
The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment recently released the findings of its second student loan report, which identifies and examines seven factors that are associated with student loan default among New Yorkers, while also highlighting trends across New York City neighborhoods.

San Francisco OFE Partners with SFO Airport to Support its Private Sector Workers
In partnership with the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment will engage private sector workers, unions, SFO and its tenant employers to design and pilot test a 'workers fund'- a cash benefit that equips 40,000 private sector workers at SFO to cope with a financial emergency. 

San Francisco OFE Partners with Public Utilities Commission to Support "Water Cost-Burdened" Residents
In partnership with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment will engage residents, community organizations, PUC, and its contractors in the Bayview neighborhood to design and pilot test a 'resident water fund'- a cash fund that low-income residents can access when they face a financial emergency.

St. Louis OFE Offers Programming for Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs
Treasurer Tishaura Jones and her Office of Financial Empowerment recently kicked off a partnership with the Small Business Majority designed to help women start their own businesses.

Current Grant Opportunities
Newly Released Resources
Bank On Coalition Playbook
The CFE Fund continues to support coalitions through best practices found in our Bank On Coalition Playbook. Chapters cover a range of topics; including best practices for Programmatic Banking Access Integration, a handout for financial institutions on the benefits of Bank On National Account Certification, guidelines for Launching or Relaunching a Coalition, as well as a Bank On Coalition Logic Model. The Playbook is regularly updated with new chapters; get in touch with new chapter ideas!

CFE Expert Topic: Reentry Integration Strategies
Nearly 10 million people exit local, state, and federal prison each year after completing their incarceration; many city partners have begun testing financial empowerment strategies to help improve safe and successful reentry. This brief details strategies our city partners have taken to integrate financial empowerment into core social services, to support the formerly incarcerated reentering the community, and to achieve the "Supervitamin Effect" to boost programmatic outcomes.

CFE Expert Topic: Offices of Financial Empowerment
Across the country, many local leaders have launched Offices of Financial Empowerment (OFEs) or similar municipal offices that serve as a home for financial empowerment programming efforts. Check out these resources to learn from CFE Coalition city experts about why city leaders invest in OFEs, what OFEs do, and pathways to launching OFEs.

CFE Expert Topic: Youth Savings Initiatives
Across the country, a number of local governments are increasing the availability of youth savings opportunities for families, with the goal of improving the likelihood that students of limited means enroll and persist in higher education. This brief details why city leaders are investing in youth savings initiatives like Child Savings Accounts (CSAs), provides details on how these programs operate, and highlights how cities have gotten started doing this critical work.

Financial Empowerment "In The News"