History of Innovation

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History of Innovation

2017: Mobility Lab
  • Residents and families that thrive

2017: Mobility Lab

In response to growing inequality, diminishing mobility and a surge in citizen calls for city government to act where federal and state government can't or won't on behalf of low income families, OFE is called to advance the next generation of municipal innovations.

Innovation

The economic Mobility Lab (mLab) will test innovations that have the potential to strengthen the economic security and mobility of low income San Franciscans. To succeed, mLab will leverage our in-house research and development capabilities, resources across city government, innovation funders, a network of strong city agencies, and partnerships with private and non-profit collaborators. The lab is designed to demonstrate solutions and share learning with advocates, policy makers, and social service providers, including municipal peers across the United States.

2017: Bank On San Francisco 2.0
  • Bank On

2017: Bank On San Francisco 2.0

Thanks to the contribution of a strong Bank On San Francisco coalition launched a decade ago, the percentage of unbanked residents in San Francisco dropped from 5.9% in 2011 to 2.1% in 2015. However, 16.5% of residents with bank accounts continue to turn to high-cost payday lenders, check-cashers and other alternative services to meet financial needs (FDIC, 2015).

Opportunity

How do we move 1 in 5 residents who remain unbanked or underbanked to new, safe and affordable bank and credit union accounts that help them manage their money and build wealth?

Innovation

Bank On San Francisco is being reimagined and relaunched with financial service and nonprofit partners to help low income San Franciscans move to safe, affordable accounts and build savings.

2015: Smart Money Coaching
  • Smart Money

2015: Smart Money Coaching

Many Americans have limited money management skills and struggle to make sound financial decisions. And they know it; the National Foundation for Credit Counseling estimates 40% Americans give themselves a C, D or F in their understanding of personal finance (2015).

Opportunity

How do we meet low income families where they are to provide relevant and practical financial coaching that helps them improve their financial health?

Innovation

Smart Money Coaching provided financial coaching to low income San Franciscans at 27 sites in partnership with the Human Services Agency, the Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community Development, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Housing Authority. Integrating coaching into existing social service delivery can improve both financial and programmatic outcomes, as well as help scale a high touch coaching service.

Impact

Since the program launched over 1,500 clients participated in more than 3,700 financial coaching sessions and achieved 725 positive financial outcomes, from establishing credit scores to building savings.

Status

Now in its third year, Smart Money Coaching remains a vibrant partnership between city departments and nonprofit partner Balance to integrate financial capability into frontline service delivery. The OFE is seeking ways to tighten this integration to improve outcomes for residents.

2015: Summer Jobs Connect
  • Residents and families that thrive

2015: Summer Jobs Connect

While San Francisco's summer youth employment programs have been successful in building work-related skills and career pathways, participants lacked financial knowledge and skills, and often relied on check cashers to cash their paychecks.

Opportunity

How can we leverage existing summer employment programs to strengthen financial capability of youth and provide access to affordable financial services at a critical point when many of them earn their first paycheck?

Innovation

The OFE partnered with the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families (DCYF) and MyPath, a nonprofit focused on paving economic pathways for low-income youth, to design and implement Summer Jobs Connect, which integrated access to financial products and tools for youth ages 14 to 24. The San Francisco Federal Credit Union signed on to offer youth a non-custodial account that provided checking, savings and a debit card with no overdraft or monthly fees.

Impact

Since the program's inception in 2015, more than 2,100 youth opened their first bank account and saved over $644,000. MyPath’s curriculum equipped the youth with practical and relevant banking and money management knowledge and skills, and engaged them in developing a savings habit.

Status

Now in its fourth year, Summer Jobs Connect remains a vibrant public-private partnership of San Francisco Federal Credit Union, MyPath and San Francisco city departments.

2012: CurrenC SF
  • CurrenC_logo

2012: CurrenC SF

More than 67,000 working households in San Francisco did not get paid by direct deposit, receiving their pay in check or cash. Employees receiving checks often turn to check cashing companies, paying as much as $1,000 in annual fees. Processing checks is also expensive for employers and moving to direct deposit can significantly lower payroll fees.

Opportunity

How can we help employees reduce their reliance on costly check cashers and further reduce the number of unbanked households in San Francisco?

Innovation

CurrenC SF was launched to help employers and employees switch to direct deposit, increasing working households access to affordable financial products.

Impact

More than 120 employers joined CurrenC SF and thousands of working households enrolled in direct deposit. The OFE led or advised on electronic payment strategies with the City and County of San Francisco, San Francisco Unified School District and the San Francisco Hotel Council.

Status

CurrenC SF is no longer a stand-alone program of the OFE, but direct deposit remains an essential component of its engagement with employers, to strengthen the financial health and well-being of employees, through other OFE programs including Bank On San Francisco and Summer Jobs Connect.

2011: Kindergarten to College
  • Kindergarten to College

2011: Kindergarten to College

One in three San Francisco children are born into families with no savings or assets of any kind; one in two for African America and Latino children. Yet children with a college savings account, even with modest savings, are more likely to attend and graduate from college than those with no account.

Opportunity

How do we help low income families save for their children’s future and aspire for college?

Innovation

Kindergarten to College (K2C) launched as the first universal, public, matched children savings program in the country.

Impact

The OFE now manages accounts for 30,000 children with a total of $5.3 million in savings, including $3.0 million contributed by families. The program has helped inspire cities, states and nonprofits across the country to launch children savings accounts.

Status

As an ongoing program at OFE, we remain focused on strengthening Kindergarten to College’s design and operations to ensure it can serve and engage an increasing number of families each year.

2009: Payday Plus SF
  • PaydayPlus_logo

2009: Payday Plus SF

Payday loans are predatory in nature, with annual percentage interest rates (APRs) as high as 400%, or $15 for every $100 borrowed. With repayment required in full within two weeks, borrowers often take out a new loan to pay an old one, creating a debt cycle that is hard to break. By 2007, 36 payday lenders in San Francisco were lending over $60 million annually to residents.

Opportunity

How do we help residents avoid predatory loans when they have short-term credit needs?

Innovation

Under a new program called Payday Plus SF, the OFE partnered with six local credit unions to offer short-term credit of up to $500 at a maximum APR of 18% over a repayment period of 6 to 12 months.

Impact

Local credit unions issued 300 loans annually and reported repayment data to credit bureaus to help San Francisco residents establish or improve their credit score.

Status

Payday Plus SF's impact proved positive but limited in scale due to the cost incurred by local institutions of issuing small dollar loans. The OFE continues to explore innovations to help families manage income and expense volatility, financial shocks and short-term credit needs.

2006: Bank On San Francisco
  • Bank On

2006: Bank On San Francisco

Fifty thousand households, including half of all African-American and Latino adults, in San Francisco were unbanked, relying on alternative --often predatory-- financial services to manage their day-to-day financial needs.

Opportunity

How do we help unbanked residents access an affordable bank account and reduce reliance on predatory financial services?

Innovation

A first in the country, Bank On San Francisco organized 14 banks and credit unions committed to improving access to affordable checking accounts to low income San Franciscans.

Impact

Unbanked San Franciscans opened more than 10,000 checking accounts per year, and the model has since been replicated across the United States to create 100 Bank On coalitions.

Status

Bank On San Francisco was reconceived and expanded in 2017 based on new national safe bank account standards. See update in 2017.

2005: Working Families Credit
  • Working Families Credit logo

2005: Working Families Credit

Nationally 15-25% of families eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) do not claim it. In San Francisco, the estimated annual amount of unclaimed credit equaled $12 million.

Opportunity

How do we raise local awareness and increase EITC utilization to put this tax credit into the hands of our working families?

Innovation

A pioneering city initiative supported by a coalition of local partners and a city-wide marketing campaign, the Working Families Credit offered a local match to the federal EITC.

Impact

In the first three years, $6.7 million in Working Family Credit funds went to 24,000 working families in San Francisco.

Status

The San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) now manages the Working Families Credit, which provides a one-time credit of up to $250 to families.