Introducing the Youth Financial Capability Fund: Setting Young People on Pathways Toward Prosperity
Youth workforce development programs provide opportune moments to help set young people on pathways to future financial success. Although many young people face challenges accessing high quality jobs, education and economic opportunities, youth workforce development programs provide paid work experiences, training and professional development. While earning a paycheck, young people can practice financial skills, develop positive habits and access valuable tools and resources that can help them start to establish financial wellness early on.
Prosperity Now’s recent report, “Beyond the Next Paycheck: Creating Opportunities for Young Workers to Thrive,” notes that young people are more financially insecure than older groups. Compared to older generations, young adults are having a harder time making ends meet, less likely to utilize formal financial products and exhibiting lower levels of financial literacy.1 Opportunity youth – young people age 16 to 24 who are not currently working or enrolled in education – may be particularly vulnerable, as they often must focus on financial survival and covering life expenses like housing, food and transportation. Embedding financial capability services into youth workforce development programs can help young people build financial confidence, create financial goals and improve financial stability.
In partnership with the Citi Foundation, Prosperity Now launched a community of practice including five national youth workforce development organizations as part of the Citi Foundation’s Youth Financial Capability Fund (YFCF) in July of this year. The YFCF is part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, which supports organizations that help empower urban youth, ages 16 to 24, and connect them to opportunities that prepare them to compete in a 21st century economy.
Prosperity Now will provide technical assistance, actionable tools and resources to support the national organizations through a deliberate planning and design process to embed financial capability services – including financial education, access to safe and affordable accounts, and savings opportunities – into their existing youth workforce programming. Local sites across seven states will pilot the delivery of these services beginning in early 2018.
We are excited to introduce the national organizations selected to engage in the YFCF:
Genesys Works (Pilot sites – Bay Area, CA; Chicago, IL)
Genesys Works aims to provide pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experience, and impactful relationships. Genesys Works plans to develop a financial education course and offer incentivized savings and credit building products to young people in their programs as part of the YFCF.
Juma Ventures (Pilot sites – Bay Area, CA; Seattle, WA)
Juma strives to break the cycle of poverty by paving the way to work, education, and financial capability for youth across America. Juma employs youth in customer-facing, socially engaging employment opportunities through their Pathways program, and offers training and career-focused support services to help youth overcome barriers to employment through their new YouthConnect program. They provide an array of financial capability services, including financial education and access to bank accounts, and will expand and tailor their service offerings to opportunity youth in their YouthConnect program.
NPower (Pilot sites – Baltimore, MD; St. Louis, MO; New York, NY)
NPower creates pathways to economic prosperity by launching digital careers for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities. Their Tech Fundamentals program prepares students to begin careers in the field of information technology by offering free tech training, mentoring, paid internships, career development workshops, certifications and job placement services. NPower plans to provide tailored financial education with an emphasis on credit, debt and money management. Additionally, each pilot site is considering offering additional services that meet the needs of their unique youth populations. St. Louis, for example, is exploring income supports and curating strong financial institution partnerships, whereas New York is considering financial counseling for their youth.
STRIVE International (Pilot sites – Hartford, CT; Baltimore, MD; Harlem, NY)
STRIVE International is a job training and career development services agency. They recently launched the STRIVE Future Leaders program designed for use with STRIVE clients ages 24 and under through which they provide case management and holistic career services. Through the YFCF, STRIVE will embed financial literacy, financial coaching and accesses to safe and affordable products into the Future Leaders program in three cities.
Urban Alliance (Pilot sites – Chicago, IL; Baltimore, MD)
Urban Alliance empowers under-resourced youth to aspire, work, and succeed through paid internships, formal training and mentorship. They provide high school seniors with an intensive year-long experience featuring one-on-one mentorship, life-skills and job readiness workshops. As part of the YFCF, Urban Alliance is interested in providing access to safe and affordable financial products as well as financial education and financial coaching for their young people in 2018.
In August and September of 2017, Prosperity Now visited each of the five national organizations to provide in-person technical assistance and help them kick off the integration planning process. We conducted interviews with staff and young people to learn about program operations and identify young people’s financial needs, mapped the current youth workforce program flow and created action plans to guide the integration process. In October, we convened the national organizations and their pilot sites in Washington, DC, for a two-day training session to share examples of financial capability integration models, help organizations refine their theory of change for this work and provide resources for implementation. We will provide ongoing technical assistance over the next year as the programs kick off their pilots in early 2018 and track the results. Throughout the process we will share updates on their progress, stay tuned to learn more!
Prosperity Now is grateful for the Citi Foundation and their support of the YFCF, and we look forward to our continued partnership.