| Mayor Michael B. Hancock today announced that he is establishing the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) to provide Denver residents with the tools to achieve economic mobility and create stable, prosperous lives.“Too many of our residents are living one paycheck away from financial disaster, and we can do more to provide them with the tools to achieve economic mobility and create stable, prosperous lives,” Mayor Hancock said. “This new office makes economic mobility a priority in this city and will bring together the experts who can help address the financial issues that test everyone, from the young graduates carrying student loan debt to our aging grandparents trying to get by on a fixed income.”
The OFE will convene city departments, nonprofit providers and other key stakeholders to analyze the effectiveness of current services and programs. The stakeholders will identify gaps toward addressing economic mobility and work to develop solutions, with the OFE helping analyze resources and providing the infrastructure for developing initiatives.
The OFE will be organized into four major areas:
· Financial Empowerment Centers – Free one-on-one financial coaching that helps residents reduce debt, develop savings, establish credit, increase credit scores and receive basic banking services.
· Bank On Denver – Partners with financial institutions to develop financial products that meets the needs of low-income residents and connects unbanked and underbanked individuals and families to those safe and affordable financial products and services.
· Financial Empowerment Training – Provides standardized and effective training for FEC coaches and service providers, allowing them to help clients resolve financial issues that could be contributing to their need for services.
· Financial Empowerment Network – Brings together city service providers including Denver Human Services, the Office of Economic Development and the Denver Sheriff Department with nonprofits/for-profits, banks and regulators to coordinate financial empowerment services, measure their effectiveness, and identify and address gaps in efforts to help Denver residents achieve economic mobility.
There are 11 FEC locations in Denver, serving over 3,000 clients. Those clients have reduced their overall debt load by nearly $2 million and developed new savings of close to half a million dollars.
Through Bank On Denver, clients who were unbanked or underbanked have opened approximately 5,000 new bank accounts. Through a partnership with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), Bank On Denver is working with participating financial institutions to establish new standards for serving these communities, based off of the CFE Fund’s recently launched Bank On National Account Standards.
“An Office of Financial Empowerment sends a powerful signal to city residents about the importance of community financial stability—and the role of government in addressing it,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “With the Denver Office of Financial Empowerment, Mayor Hancock and the City of Denver join a vanguard group of municipal administrations on the cutting edge of large-scale antipoverty solutions that help families and individuals stabilize and grow their finances.”
Bank On Denver is also working with financial institutions to develop new financial products to address community need. For example, Bank On Denver has partnered with the Denver Office of Immigrant and Refugees and Fitzsimmons Credit Union to provide no interest loans to cover application fees for U.S. citizenship.
The creation of the OFE allows for the integration of financial coaching into the Bank On Denver program, helping to move newly banked individuals down the path of financial self-sufficiency and into mainstream banking products that can save them up to $40,000 over a lifetime.
Residents may schedule an appointment with a financial coach at 720.944.2498, by a referral from one of our sites or partners, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the Financial Empowerment Center webpage. They may also call 211 and 311 for information on how to schedule an appointment.