RELEASE: Treasurer Summers, Citi, and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund Announce Plans for Chicago’s First Financial Empowerment Centers

Citi Community Development will provide $250,000 in funding to establish Financial Empowerment Centers across Chicago
Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund Award Supports Creation of Free One-on-One Financial Counseling Program for All Residents

Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers, Citi Community Development and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) today announced new plans to establish the city’s first financial empowerment centers, as supported by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Through a $250,000 contribution from Citi Community Development, new financial empowerment centers will be located in underserved communities to provide advice, resources and assistance to all Chicagoans. In addition, the city has received an In-Kind Technical Assistance Grant valued at $150,000 from the CFE Fund to replicate successful evidence-based best practices in the new financial empowerment centers. Together, both investments will enable Chicago to deliver free, one-on-one financial counseling by trained professionals to residents with low incomes.

“Financial empowerment for all Chicagoans will have a lasting effect on the economic prosperity of families throughout our City,” Treasurer Summers said. “This grant will greatly help our efforts as we work to address the financial needs of all residents across Chicago. I thank Citi Community Development and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund for recognizing and supporting Chicago’s financial capability movement.”

The Financial Empowerment Center model was developed by New York City in 2008 during the Bloomberg Administration. In 2013, through a $16.2 million, three-year grant by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the CFE Fund announced the replication of this model in five additional cities around the country. Based on overwhelming municipal demand following the success of each of the replications, the CFE Fund has expanded the program to seven more cities, including Chicago, through in-kind technical assistance grants.

“This grant recognizes the tangible commitment by Mayor Emanuel and Treasurer Summers to providing high-quality financial counseling, with measurable and significant results, as a public service to the people of Chicago,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “We are proud to partner with Chicago and Citi Community Development to continue to raise expectations for what city government can do to help individuals and families address their financial challenges, get stable, and move ahead.”

Financial Empowerment Centers across the five initial replication cities have served over 17,000 clients, delivered over 44,000 counseling sessions, reduced more than $15 million in total client debt and built client savings of more than $2 million since March 2013.They provide professional, one-on-one financial counseling free of charge to all residents. Trained counselors conduct financial triage to determine the nature of residents’ financial situations, set goals, and establish a specific plan of action for each resident.

“With nearly half of Chicago households lacking sufficient savings to live at the poverty line for three months if faced with income disruption, these new financial empowerment centers will enable working Chicagoans to maximize their earnings, build financial resiliency and plan for a more secure future,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development.

In March, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan declared Chicago a “model city” for financial education as a result of Treasurer Summers’ efforts to bring city agencies, financial institutions, and community organizations together to expand financial empowerment services across the city. The technical assistance grant is in addition to the $250,000 grant that the Treasurer’s Office received last year from Citi Community Development to boost financial inclusion in Chicago. Treasurer Summers will use the grants from CFE Fund and Citi Community Development to expand free financial counseling in Chicago, so more Chicagoans can receive help with managing their money, reducing debt, improving credit and accessing safe financial products and services at no charge.

“We as City are committed to empowering our residents to make better financial decisions, and we are working toward to this end through our comprehensive, citywide financial education program,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We welcome these new financial empowerment centers, which will allow us to break down financial barriers that have once stood in the way of our children’s success, and will have a lasting effect on the continued economic growth of the City of Chicago.”

At the Financial Empowerment Centers, counselors systematically track client data and outcomes to monitor progress. Some of the most common services clients receive are help with money management, budgeting, reducing debt, establishing and improving credit, connecting to safe and affordable banking services, building savings and connecting to other City and nonprofit services.

“Expanding access to free, high-quality financial counseling is essential to helping Chicago families get back on their feet and achieve their financial goals”, said John Rogers, Chairman of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans. “I applaud Treasurer Summers’ dedication to making sure all Chicagoans have access to this incredible resource.”

Chicago, along with Birmingham, AL; Boston, MA; and Detroit, MI were selected to receive this technical assistance grant through the CFE Fund’s most recent competitive application process. The technical assistance grant will help Chicago build a successful program based on the lessons learned from Financial Empowerment Centers in the original five FEC replication cities, which include Denver, CO; Lansing, MI; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA and San Antonio, TX. These cities join four others– Cleveland, OH; Hawaii County, HI; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA – that are developing creative approaches to replicating this financial counseling model in their local communities, leveraging committed leadership and strong partnerships to provide a much-needed city service.

About the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund
The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. For more information, please visit www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEfund.

About Citi
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

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