September 2019
Demonstrating Promising Innovations
How can we help residents in the historically disadvantaged Bayview Neighborhood avoid utility shutoff to remain in their home and community?
New mLab Partnership
We are answering this question in a new partnership with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to help residents manage the rising cost of utilities. We’re launching this new partnership under our Economic Mobility Lab (mLab) , which designs and tests promising financial innovations with city peers. This exciting new work with PUC will parallel our ongoing mLab collaboration with the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to design and test an individual cash benefit that equips thousands of low-wage private sector workers at SFO to cope with financial shocks.
Expanding Proven Innovations
Piloting ChexAdvisor
Bank On San Francisco is addressing one of the most critical barriers low-income residents face opening a safe, affordable account: a negative ChexSystems record. This past quarter, we began pilot testing ChexAdvisor, a tool that allows a financial coach to review a client’s ChexSystems report in real-time. We look forward to sharing the results of this pilot in the spring.

In addition to pilot testing ChexAdvisor on the ground, we recently engaged The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation  (FDIC) to discuss ways to spur take-up of ChexAdvisor among financial coaching and other service providers, and improve transparency of financial institution’s use of ChexSystems and a similar reporting agency, Early Warning Services.
“Within one month, with the help of his coach, Jesse opened a safe bank account, saved $750, opened a secured credit card, and created a plan to pay off his student loan of $2,200 at a fraction of what was owed.”
New Partnerships
We’re excited to announce two new partnerships. With the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing we are supporting the Rising Up Campaign , integrating financial coaching into a rapid rehousing program to help transitional aged youth exit homelessness.With the Health Service System (HSS) , OFE is piloting financial coaching for city employees at several City departments, while supporting HSS to expand its website to provide all city employees and retirees resources to support their financial health and wellbeing.
These two partnerships will further expand Smart Money Coaching as a free and confidential one-on-one service currently offered to residents in partnership with the Human Services Agency , Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development , Hope SF , the Public Library , and the Department of Disability and Aging Services .
Supporting Students at all Public Schools
Kindergarten to College (K2C) opened 11,000 new accounts this fall for a total of 43,000 accounts fully covering kindergarten to 9 th grade across all 114 San Francisco Public Schools. That level of scale is pushing us to engage families and students as strategically as possible. Among other steps, we are extending our partnership with the behavioral science firm ideas42 to help identify and remove barriers families face in acting on their intention to save for their child’s future. Early next year, OFE and ideas42 will co-author a paper on designing equitable college savings programs.

Treasurer Cisneros addressed the San Francisco Board of Education October 30, emphasizing that the power of K2C was in helping thousands of low-income parents ‘get to the starting line’ —believing that post-secondary education is an option for their children.
We're Hiring!
K2C is seeking a full-time Community Engagement Specialist to lead K2C’s growth at an exciting time: K2C recently received significant new funding for expansion, has a strong working partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), and continues to influence the broader Children’s Savings Account field it helped pioneer. This is an ideal role for someone with experience working with San Francisco communities, families and SFUSD; and a demonstrated commitment to helping young people succeed, particularly young people from low-income communities and communities of color. The ideal candidate will be outgoing; creative; flexible; tactful; collaborative; have a passion for increasing access to post-secondary education for all San Francisco students; and eager to grow professionally in a dynamic role helping lead K2C. Contact us for more information and apply here .
Using Our Voice for Economic Justice
Protecting Consumers
OFE is pursuing strategies to address the high levels of student loan debt burden and distress identified in our research report with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisc o. In November, the OFE co-hosted a student debt training for 50 financial coaches, credit counselors, and other practitioners, led by Juliana Fredman of Bay Area Legal Aid. And earlier this month, OFE's Jacob DuMez addressed municipal student debt at the Consumer Federation of America’s Financial Services Conference in Washington, DC.
As we head into the holidays, we celebrate several important state policy wins this year, including:
  • AB 539 (Limon): establishes a rate cap on high-cost installment loans.
  • SB 616 (Wieckowski): protects $1,724 against bank levy by debt collectors.
  • SB 455 (Bradford): creates a “financial empowerment fund” which will provide up to $1M annually in grants to nonprofits.
  • Expansion of the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which doubles the number of eligible low-income families.
  • Increase in the asset limit for CalWORKS recipients from $2,500 to $10,000.
Speaking Out About Debt Collection and Financial Wellbeing
Between July 2011 and March 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received over 400,000 complaints about debt collection—over 50,000 from California consumers alone. Read San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s recent blog, co-authored with Treasurer CIsneros, on San Francisco’s Equitable Approach to Debt Collection & Financial Wellbeing .
Counting the Cost of Financial Insecurity
Among families in San Francisco, 47% more than two in five residents--are financially insecure, with less than $2,000 in savings. In some neighborhoods, more than 30 percent of our residents have delinquent debt, are struggling to meet their financial obligations and are in financial distress. Read Treasurer Cisneros’ post on this challenge to our residents and city budget .
About the Office of Financial Empowerment
The Office of Financial Empowerment is a unique private-public partnership housed within the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector that convenes, innovates and advocates to strengthen economic security and mobility of low-income San Franciscans. For more than a decade, under the leadership of Treasurer José Cisneros, the OFE has engaged partners inside and outside City Hall to equip San Franciscans with knowledge, skills and resources to strengthen their financial health and well-being. At the same time, the Office has leveraged what has worked on the ground to model what is possible across the country.
We have a new website . Let us know what you think! In the New Year, you'll see new resources for residents and peers.
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