Globally, the Citi Foundation invests in efforts that advance economic progress by forming philanthropic partnerships with organizations in each of our portfolios. Some examples of innovative and impactful partnerships are highlighted below.
Growing Assets Program
Racial disparities in asset ownership are at their highest levels in 25 years in the U.S., and decreased housing values have led to massive losses of wealth and financial stability, according to the Pew Research Center. Furthermore, 25% of all U.S. households live in asset poverty and lack financial resources to cover even three months of living expenses. This number rises to 35% for minority households.
The Citi Foundation is addressing this need by supporting the Growing Assets Program through the Asset Building Policy Network (ABPN). With $1.8 million in funding from the Citi Foundation, five founding members of the ABPN are piloting innovative programs that build pathways to long-term economic security and upward mobility in communities of color. The programs are expanding essential asset building opportunities – from improving college success rates among underserved/low-income youth, to removing the financial barriers to citizenship, to integrating immigrant households into the mainstream financial marketplace and rethinking capital access and technical assistance to Latino small businesses looking to grow and create jobs.
Grants were awarded to the National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, National Council of La Raza, National Urban League, and PolicyLink.
To learn more about the Growing Assets Program, visit the ABPN website.
The U.S. Financial Diaries project provides an unprecedented look at how more than 200 low- and moderate-income American families manage their financial lives during the course of a year. Led by the Financial Access Initiative at New York University and the Center for Financial Services Innovation – with leadership support from the Citi Foundation – the project is uncovering new insights on how American families make ends meet and how financial services and policies sometimes help and sometimes hinder them. Researchers looked at how consumers earn, pay bills, save money, manage daily cash flows, use credit, and cope with financial shocks. The lessons gleaned from the project will help inform the development of financial products and services tailored to meet the needs of struggling Americans, as well as guide public policy conversations related to financial inclusion efforts.
Read current research, including profiles of households and briefs on specific issues from the project on the U.S. Financial Diaries website.
India Financial Capability Innovation Grant Program
The Citi Foundation's India Financial Capability Innovation Grant Program was established in 2014 to identify and support promising innovative approaches to improving financial capability among low-income populations and further our mission of expanding financial inclusion in India. Through the initiative, select community partners are working on a range of projects that will improve consumer financial decision making by using technology and behavioral insights. The initiative is also designed to identify ways to help lower the cost of program delivery while enhancing impact. The lessons learned and best practices gleaned from the Innovation Grant Program will shed new light on efforts to attain scale, evaluate impact, and determine how to successfully integrate new approaches into financial capability interventions.
Opportunity Finance Network
With Citi Foundation support, the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) is creating a new and innovative training program to cultivate leadership in the CDFI industry. CDFIs have been important forces for change in underserved communities across the U.S. for the past 30 years, but the industry as a whole is currently facing a critical transition point. This is because first-generation leaders are retiring or moving on, mid-career leaders are emerging with ambitions to become C-level executives, and new talent is entering the field with a drive to make their mark but without the tools to assume these leadership roles. The CDFI industry's future depends on its ability to harness this leadership transition to identify the best and brightest leaders for tomorrow that will help the industry continue to grow and innovate. In order to address this opportunity, in 2014, OFN launched the inaugural class of the Citi Opportunity Finance Leadership Program for 50 dynamic leaders from CDFIs across the country that have demonstrated vision and leadership potential for the industry.
Learn more about the Opportunity Finance Network here.
With support from the Citi Foundation, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank, launched SCALA, a program that connects low-income microentrepreneurs with business opportunities and access to high-quality products and services that integrate them into distribution channels of larger companies. Through SCALA, anchor companies, microfinance institutions (MFIs), and NGOs work together on projects that scale innovative distribution networks based on microfranchising models to expand economic opportunities for low-income microentrepreneurs. SCALA currently operates in seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Another component of the program is SCALA-RED, a resource center/observatory that is designed as a one-stop-shop for information on the application of microfranchising models.
Youth Economic Opportunities
The Citi Foundation is working with iMentor to expand the organization's successful mentoring program, which pairs high school students from low-income communities with college-educated adult mentors. A $1 million grant announced in 2014 is helping iMentor increase its mentoring matches to 20,000 pairs nationwide over the next five years. iMentor's work aligns with the Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress initiative, a three-year $50 million commitment to unlock economic opportunity for 100,000 low-income youth in 10 cities across the United States. In addition to being iMentor's largest corporate funder, the Citi Foundation is working with the organization to harness the time and talent of Citi employees as volunteer mentors to match with students. Currently, more than 100 Citi employees are already involved with the program as mentors.
Visit the iMentor website for more information.
For nearly three decades, Citi and the Citi Foundation have been among JA's strongest supporters globally, contributing financially to its mission and operations around the world. In 2013, the Citi Foundation provided $3.9 million of funding to support JA initiatives in 49 countries. In addition to the more than 2,000 Citi volunteers mobilized in 2013, more than 50 JA local and regional boards, as well as the Global Board of Governors, benefit from the participation, support and leadership of Citi executives. The Citi Foundation has worked with JA on the design of innovative programs, including "Mujeres Emprendedoras" (Women for Development) with JA Americas that links entrepreneurship education and access to capital through local microfinance institutions for low-income women in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Citi Foundation also worked with JA USA to co-develop and pilot a new digital volunteer program as a way to widen and deepen its impact through the use of technology and provide greater opportunity for volunteer engagement.
The Citi Foundation and Living Cities launched the City Accelerator in March 2014 to foster innovation and promote collaboration between urban leaders to tackle some of their cities' most pressing issues. The City Accelerator will allow select U.S. cities to pilot innovative efforts that generate economic opportunities for low-income populations and help municipalities run more effectively. Participating cities will also benefit from ongoing interaction with leading practitioners from around the country and share lessons learned to help other cities advance similar work. The City Accelerator builds on the Project on Municipal Innovation (PMI), a collaboration between Living Cities and Harvard's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, which brings together mayoral chiefs-of-staff and policy directors from 35 cities across the U.S. to discuss challenges facing their municipalities, including inefficiency in city government and inequality. The City Accelerator helps translate dialogue into action by giving cities seed funding to adopt many of the ideas discussed during the PMI sessions.
To learn more visit the City Accelerator website.
Partners in Progress
Launched by the Citi Foundation and the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Partners In Progress builds on the concept of the "Community Quarterback" to increase economic progress in low-income communities. This model, first introduced in the book Investing in What Works for America's Communities, stems from the idea that the best community development is holistic and multidisciplinary, but to be successful, requires a quarterback organization that can align the efforts of many partners around a shared vision, marshal resources, and keep stakeholders accountable. In addition to providing modest direct support, the Citi Foundation, together with LIIF, is actively curating an innovative learning community to nurture 14 organizations across the country as they deepen their efforts to become community quarterbacks. Ultimately, the Partners in Progress program seeks to increase the impact of local organizations and improve the lives of low-income residents.
To learn more visit the Partners in Progress website.