Treasury Notes

 Introducing the Financial Empowerment Innovation Fund

By: Melissa Koide
4/24/2014

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 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 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.

In the coming weeks, Treasury looks forward to announcing more details about the Innovation Fund.  Stay tuned to the Office of Consumer Policy website for more information.  

 

Melissa Koide is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consumer Policy at the United States Department of the Treasury

Posted in:  Consumer Policy
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