County of Hawai‘i Honored for Advancing Innovative Programs that Help Low-Income Families Save and Build Wealth

The Cities for Financial Empowerment Coalition, a group of municipal governments – including the County of Hawai‘i – dedicated to helping low-income residents achieve long-term financial stability, was presented today with the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) Assets & Opportunity Award.

The award, the only one of its kind, honors groups and individuals who are advancing the field of asset-building in the United States and increasing the use of financial products and services that allow low-income families to buy a home, pursue higher education, start a business and move up the economic ladder.

The award was presented to coalition co-chairs Jonathan Mintz, Commissioner of the New York Department of Consumer Affairs, and José Cisneros, Treasurer of the City and County of San Francisco, at CFED’s biennial Assets Learning Conference in Washington, D.C.  Keynote remarks were given by Newark’s Mayor Cory Booker, a CFE Coalition member, and Bill Corr, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The award has been presented two times previously, to Citigroup and the Ford Foundation.  In addition to the County of Hawai‘i the coalition includes Chicago, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Newark, New York, Providence, San Antonio, San Francisco, Savannah and Seattle.

Hawai‘i Island’s financial empowerment work is spearheaded by the Department of Research and Development.  As a member of the CFE Coalition since 2010, the County works with officials in other cities who learn best practices from each other and expand programs that help people save and build assets. The initiative focuses on creating public-private partnerships around the areas of financial education, increasing opportunities to access financial services and developing innovative asset-building products.  Programs already existing on Hawai‘i Island include the Children’s Savings, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and innovative uses of technology to provide families with on-line benefits screening and referrals, and a text messaging based platform for budgeting.

The CFE Coalition has also launched its own non-profit organization – the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, which supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government.

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