Through investments in the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) in the U.S. and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) outside the U.S., the Citi Foundation is supporting innovative, nonprofit-led projects designed to enhance the financial capability of low-income consumers. In 2010, with the support of a collaborative of funders led by the Citi Foundation, CFSI launched the Financial Capability Innovation Fund to provide funding to innovative projects. These efforts promote linking relevant and timely financial guidance with the use of well-designed financial products, using technology to increase client engagement, and leveraging social networks and behavioral incentives to motivate clients to achieve their financial goals. A second round of the Fund was launched in 2012. These models are helping consumers take better control of their finances and are leading to measureable outcomes for low-income and underserved consumers, such as improved credit scores and increased savings. Lessons learned from these programs are being shared with the field to replicate and scale effective interventions.
Similarly, the Citi Foundation engaged IPA to design and implement the Citi IPA Financial Capability Research Fund, a groundbreaking research fund to expand the supply and impact of products and interventions to improve the financial capability of low-income consumers globally. As recent loan repayment crises around the world demonstrate, improved access to financial products and services is only part of the formula for financial inclusion. The objective of the fund is to support tests and evaluations of innovative product designs and product-linked financial education interventions that aim to improve the ability of the poor to make informed, welfare-enhancing financial decisions.
Racial disparities in asset ownership are at their highest levels in 25 years in the U.S., and decreased housing values have led to massive losses of wealth and financial stability, according to the Pew Research Center. Furthermore, 25% of all U.S. households live in asset poverty and lack financial resources to cover even three months of living expenses. This number rises to 35% for minority households. The Citi Foundation is addressing this need by supporting the Growing Assets Program through the Asset Building Policy Network (ABPN). With $1.8 million in funding from the Citi Foundation, five founding members of the ABPN will pilot innovative programs that build pathways to long-term economic security and upward mobility in communities of color. The programs will expand essential asset building opportunities from improving college success rates among underserved/low-income youth to removing the financial barriers to citizenship, integrating immigrant households into the mainstream financial marketplace and rethinking capital access and technical assistance to Latino small businesses looking to grow and create jobs. In 2013, grants were awarded to the National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, and PolicyLink.
To learn more about the Growing Assets Program, visit the ABPN website.
Through investments in Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) in the U.S. and Women's World Banking (WWB) globally, the Citi Foundation is supporting the development of the human capital of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and community development finance institutions (CDFIs) that enable these organizations to thrive and ensure clients positively benefit from their services.
With Citi Foundation support, OFN is creating a new and innovative training program to cultivate leadership in the CDFI industry. CDFIs have been important forces for change in underserved communities across the U.S. for the past 30 years but the industry as a whole is currently facing a critical transition point as first-generation leaders are retiring or moving on, mid-career leaders are emerging with ambitions to become C-level executives, and new talent is entering the field with a drive to make their mark but without the tools to assume these leadership roles. The CDFI industry's future depends on its ability to harness this leadership transition to identify the best and brightest leaders for tomorrow that will help the industry continue to grow and innovate. In order to address this opportunity, in January 2014, OFN launched the inaugural class of the Citi Opportunity Finance Leadership Program for 50 dynamic leaders from CDFIs across the country that have demonstrated vision and leadership potential for the industry.
Women's World Banking offers leadership programs for senior managers of microfinance institutions to champion gender diversity, women's leadership, and innovations for the women's market. With Citi Foundation support, Women's World Banking has expanded its Women in Leadership Program globally. Through a highly intensive leadership development program, high potential women MFI managers build their own skills as leaders and develop relationships with other leaders that extend beyond the scope of the program. Women's World Banking is adapting this program to meet the needs of MFI leaders in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The Citi Foundation has been working alongside the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International to spearhead the global Financial Inclusion 2020 (FI2020) campaign. FI2020 seeks to reach the 2 billion people around the world who lack access to basic financial services such as savings accounts, credit cards, insurance, and a way to make or receive payments. The campaign is convening more than 50 longtime partners and new stakeholders, including Visa, Mastercard, Western Union, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and CGAP, to work together to create universal access to quality financial services and drive sustained economic growth. In October 2013, the landmark event, FI 2020 Global Forum, was held in London, bringing together the top leaders from across sectors to learn about the course to make full financial inclusion a reality by 2020, and build on efforts already underway. The work of the FI2020 campaign will result in a framework and guide for stakeholders who can help advance the financial inclusion mission, inspire and make investments in marginally-served markets, ensure the needs of consumers are met appropriately, and work in partnership across sectors to impact the lives of those who will benefit from access to the safety, security and convenience of the financial mainstream. An evaluation and monitoring process will be rolled out to determine success of the campaign towards 2020.
To learn more about Financial Inclusion 2020 visit the FI2020 website
The Initiative for Smallholder Finance is a multi-donor effort hosted by the Global Development Incubator that is designed to demonstrate how specific products and services can expand the reach of financing for smallholder farmers. Initiative activities include targeted market research, product development and testing, and investment facilitation in the smallholder finance market. The release of the report Catalyzing Smallholder Agricultural Finance in September 2012, authored by Dalberg with support from the Citi Foundation, helped to focus banks, investors, donors and companies on meeting the financing needs of 450 million smallholder farmers around the world. These farmers occupy an increasingly important segment of the global food market as the world population continues to grow and incomes continue to rise creating unprecedented demand for food. The report, however, found that the global smallholder demand for financing amounts to an estimated $450 billion - and is largely unmet. Closing this gap in financing could significantly increase farmers' income and business opportunities. The Initiative for Smallholder Finance now has three primary functions: to conduct research, to facilitate communications among market participants in different parts of the agricultural finance supply chain, and to broker investment opportunities between market participants. In doing those activities, the Initiative will demonstrate how specific models and products can expand the reach of bank financing for smallholders.
With the wind-down of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, it is anticipated that as many as 250,000 U.S. service members will annually transition out of the military over the next few years and as many as 15% (or 37,500) will start their own business. As a result, the Citi Foundation is helping address the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face: the inability to access capital. As part of Citi Salutes, a Citi-wide initiative to support veteran consumers and job-seekers, the Citi Foundation is working with Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and the U.S. Small Business Administration to sponsor the "Realizing Your Dream" business plan competition for graduates of the leading Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) and Boots to Business programs. Prize money goes towards businesses that impact veterans, and for the Best Social Venture or Best Technology Venture. Furthermore, graduates of the Institute's programs will have access to loan capital through ACCION, The US Network, with support from the Citi Foundation, to establish and grow their businesses.
To learn more about Citi's commitment to veterans, visit the Citi Salutes: Realizing Your Dream website.
Financial Aid U (FAU) empowers low-income students and their families with the necessary tools and information to access financial aid resources to enroll in, persist, and graduate from college. Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is recognized as a major barrier for many low-income students and their families as they struggle to understand how to finance their college education. Although financial aid is available, lack of awareness and the complicated financial questions on the FAFSA prevent many students from even enrolling in college. Led by the Center for Economic Progress and its National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC), FAU assists families in completing their tax returns and the highly correlated FAFSA to unlock access to millions of dollars of federal and state grant and loans. Students also receive follow-up services on topics related to college financing, including school billing cycles, understanding the components of financial aid, cost comparisons, and personal budgeting. Through direct service, as well as federal policy and systems change efforts, FAU seeks to boost college completion rates for low-income students to improve their economic circumstances and help them participate in the financial mainstream. Together, the Citi Foundation and NCTC has helped put more than 8,000 students on the path to earning a college degree since the program launched in 2008. In 2013, Citi and NCTC were recognized with the Best Partnership Award by the U.S. Chamber Foundation's Business Civic Leadership Center for their work with FAU.
For information on preparing to start or enhance a FAFSA preparation program in your community, visit the FAU Training Institute.
The KIPP College Accounts Program (KCA) is rooted around recent findings from the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis that have shown that students with savings accounts are four times more likely to attend college than those without, and students with accounts in their own name are six times more likely to attend and persist through college than their peers without savings. Funded by the Citi Foundation, this multi-layered partnership between KIPP Academies, UNCF, Citi Community Development and Citi Microfinance, offers a comprehensive suite of support services to students from the sixth grade through college graduation--focused specifically on addressing financial barriers to college completion. At the core of the program are college savings accounts, which are offered to participating students to help finance postsecondary education expenses. By providing students and their families with an accessible savings account, seeded with an initial deposit, and with the potential for matching funds, the program is demonstrating that this concept can reach greater scale and serve as a model for significantly transforming college readiness and success among low-income families.
BN Vocation School (BVNS) is enabling the growing number of low-income, migrant youth in China to secure skill-based employment through a unique, intensive, two-year, tuition-free education model. Many of these migrant youth are excluded from the formal education system in cities where they move and have few opportunities to develop the academic and employment skills necessary to make a living wage. BVNS combines accelerated academic courses in math, Chinese, and English, along with vocational training in fields such as hospitality. Participants are then connected to a paid internship and receive follow-up services to track their progress and outcomes. In just a few short years, more than 1,000 young people have completed the program and remain employed in a full-time position, earning well more than the minimum average monthly salary. Some 70 percent have become a part of their employer's core technical team and more than 10 percent hold management positions. Through BVNS, the Citi Foundation is also supporting the expansion of financial education models to help graduates establish and maintain budgets.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is seeing the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, particularly among its young people. Education For Employment (EFE), an affiliated network of locally-run non-profit organizations, provides young people with the tools and opportunities they need to secure a job or become entrepreneurs, build their futures and engage in their communities. EFE acts as a bridge between youth, companies and governments to catalyze effective and scalable solutions to unemployment across the MENA region, including in Morocco and Tunisia. EFE is also conducting a feasibility study on youth employment programs in Algeria. The Citi Foundation is investing in EFE's innovative market-driven approach that enables EFE to work with companies in the region to identify their recruitment needs, create tailor-made courses, and place youth in jobs or link them to entrepreneurship support. The Foundation is also supporting efforts to expand EFE's technological and strategic planning capacity, enabling EFE to tap into additional employment resources and professional and personal development courses to increase job placements and opportunities for ongoing learning for graduates. To date EFE has served more than 14,400 youth with an overall goal of reaching 75,000 youth by 2020.
The Citi Foundation is the inaugural funder of the Urban Institute Housing Finance Policy Center, which aims to be the pre-eminent source of high-quality housing market data and independent policy analysis. The Center will produce information critical to understanding the housing finance system, from loan origination through the international capital markets, to how changes at one stage of the process have wide-ranging implications that affect returns to global investors as well as the stability of communities. The Center's research will leverage single-family finance data from a range of sources to produce comprehensive, nuanced analyses that provide clarity on complex issues. This information will thoroughly inform government, private lenders, investors, consumers, households and communities that are ultimate beneficiaries of the housing finance system. With access to a panoply of relevant data sources, the Center is well-positioned to provide timely and relevant analyses that will inform evidence-based discussion of policy options between industry, advocates, academics, and policymakers and help foster sound public policy, efficient markets and economic opportunity.
"Investing in What Works for America's Communities" is a book that examines what we can learn from the history of community development and provides innovative ideas for working with new partners, creating new financing tools, and leveraging new technologies to bring opportunities to America's struggling communities. Published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) with funding from the Citi Foundation, this collection of essays calls on leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to build on what we know is working to move the needle on poverty. The list of authors represents a broad range of sectors including federal agencies, philanthropy, housing, academia, health, and the private sector. Since its publication in September 2012, "Investing in What Works" has struck a chord in the field of community development and beyond. In 2013, the Citi Foundation collaborated with LIIF and the Federal Reserve to enhance the dialogue through a national book tour. Further, the Foundation, in partnership with LIIF, launched "Partners in Progress," a re-granting program based on the idea that the best community development is holistic and multidisciplinary but, to be successful, requires a "quarterback" in communities who can articulate a vision, marshal funding sources, and align the work of the many partners it takes to execute a vision. In December 2013, the Citi Foundation awarded a total of $3.25 MM to 13 organizations. Over the course of 2014 the Citi Foundation and LIIF will facilitate a year-long learning community to allow these grantees to become stronger organizations, serving as resources for their peers and the field.
To download a free digital copy of the book and learn more visit the Investing in What Works website
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, community based organizations played a key role in delivering vital services to people severely affected by the storm. Their work reinforced their place as a pillar necessary for any coordinated and effective disaster response. As such, the Citi Foundation is supporting efforts that apply disaster related best practices used by the private and public sectors to the non-profit sector. A grant to the United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), one of the largest human services systems in New York, will help increase the capacity of its members for structured emergency preparedness planning and coordinating. The continuity of business training will further strengthen the 38 settlement house members to ensure they are ready and able to serve the City's most vulnerable in the wake of the next disaster.
The International Rescue Committee, with support from the Citi Foundation, is working to update the Emergency Market Mapping Assessment (EMMA) toolkit, which focuses on post-disaster market analysis to help relief and donor agencies to better understand, support and make use of local market-systems in disaster zones. EMMA has been used across the world - from Haiti to Pakistan to the current response in the Philippines - yet feedback suggests that assessments need to better inform program design post-emergency as well as aid in preparedness pre-emergency. The IRC will analyze all EMMA responses to date to develop a deeper understanding of how the sector pre-positions information, analysis and response programs in highly-vulnerable countries before a disaster strikes. The goal of this work is to enable affected communities to become more resilient and better 'bounce back' from significant threats to their livelihoods. This research is designed to improve the capacity of the IRC and partner humanitarian agencies to more rapidly and effectively respond to emergencies in a manner that incorporates local market systems and supports economic recovery.