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Financial Empowerment Innovation Fund

As part of the Administration’s ongoing effort to grow the middle class and create opportunity for all Americans, Treasury has been actively working to increase financial access and improve the financial capability of American families by equipping them with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed financial decisions.  
In an effort to test new ideas and stimulate thinking in these areas, Treasury is pleased to announce the Financial Empowerment Innovation Fund, or Innovation Fund.  The Innovation Fund is designed to support the development and evaluation of new strategies to promote financial access and financial capability.  In FY2014, Treasury seeks to award up to approximately $6 million in support of research contracts that test and evaluate promising practices in this area.  Administered by Treasury’s Office of Consumer Policy, we will seek ideas for projects in three main focus areas:
  • Payments – Treasury is looking to support the development of cutting edge strategies that use the disbursement of payments–particularly government payments–as a vehicle to increase access to mainstream financial services, facilitate personal savings, and promote effective financial decision-making by the payment recipients. 
  • Higher Education Decision-Making – Treasury is looking to support the development and testing of new strategies and tools to help individuals and families navigate financial decision-making around post-secondary education, student financial aid, and repaying student loans.
  • Financial Capability – Treasury is eager to identify and test new strategies for delivering effective financial education, including the use of new technology and personalized interactions. Potential projects might include evaluating mobile based financial decision making tools that help families track and manage their spending and budget; leveraging volunteers and/or professionals to provide lower-income families with personalized financial guidance to help them save; and summer youth employment programs that provide money management skills training for young adults. 

Given Treasury’s role in disbursing government payments (including tax refunds and Social Security payments), and as chair of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission and as the agency responsible for the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, the results of this research will help to inform Treasury’s ongoing policymaking efforts. Treasury is particularly interested in strategies that harness technology in innovative ways to promote access and capability as well as ideas that focus specifically on the needs of low- and moderate-income households.                                                   


Request for Proposals 

Please see the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for information about submitting proposals.

Key Dates for Submitting Proposals - The application procedures will involve a two-step process.

For the first step, offerors must submit brief descriptive white papers about their proposals via email on or before 4:00 p.m. (EST), June 27, 2014.

For the second step, Treasury will request full proposals from White Paper offerors whose proposals best meet Treasury objectives for the Innovation Fund.  Full proposals must be submitted via email on or before 4:00 p.m. (EST), August 13, 2014. Please see the Broad Agency Announcement  for the complete information about the key dates and procedures for submitting proposals.

Public Briefing - View a recording of the May 29 briefing  about the Innovation Fund and procedures for submitting proposals

More Information and Updates - Additional information about the Innovation Fund will be posted on this page as it becomes available.   Sign-up to receive updates on the Innovation Fund by sending your name and contact information to

Questions and Answers

The following are several frequently asked questions, with answers. Please go to the Broad Agency Announcement for an official compilation of questions and answers about the Innovation Fund procurement. 
  • What types of projects will the fund support?
    The Innovation Fund will support research project that develops, tests and/or evaluates new or existing strategies, products or tools to promote financial capability and promote access to safe and affordable financial products and services.
    Research projects: Analysis of existing data or original data collection efforts using both quantitative and qualitative methods.
    Tests of New Approaches: Projects that will generate new data and test new strategies for increasing financial decision-making through original demonstrations or tests of products, services or strategies. 
    Evaluations: Studies and analyses of new or existing demonstrations, products, or services that may yield substantive insights for future policy and programmatic efforts in one or more of the substantive focal areas.
    What is the size of the fund? How many research contracts will be issued in FY2014?
    Treasury anticipates issuing multiple contracts in FY2014, Each award will range from about $100,000 to approximately $2 million or more, depending on the complexity of the proposed projects.  The total amount available for all contracts is approximately $6 million.
    What organizations are eligible to submit proposals?
    The procurement will be open to all responsible sources including profit and non-profit organizations.  To be eligible for award, a prospective recipient must meet certain standards.  The announcement will provide full details on procedures, requirements and timeframes for submitting proposals. 
    What organizations are eligible to submit proposals? How will proposals be evaluated?
    All responsible sources including profit and non-profit organizations and eligible government agencies, including State, local and Tribal governments and agencies. The Broad Agency Announcement provides full details on procedures, requirements and timeframes for submitting proposals.
    Will potential contractors be required to register in the System for Award Management?
    Yes, contractors must have current, active registrations in the System for Award Management (SAM)   SAM registration is mandatory to receive Treasury contract awards and contract payments.  Please register in the SAM system or ensure that registration renewal is completed timely.  More details about this requirement can be found in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Clause 52.204-7 – System for Award Management.   
Last Updated: 6/3/2014 2:48 PM