SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With millions of Americans wrestling with financial insecurity, the Wells Fargo Foundation today announced $5.4 million in grants to nine organizations that help struggling households manage their finances, reduce debt, improve credit and gain access to other life-changing economic opportunities.
The nonprofits will develop and scale new approaches to improving financial health through collaboration with healthcare agencies, homeless shelters and others across the public and private sectors. Emphasis is on integrating financial coaching, and asset-building strategies into the delivery of existing social services that meet the complex needs of underserved communities.
“A disproportionate number of low-income households, and other vulnerable populations are living in the shadows and struggling to build savings,” said Brandee McHale, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “Given the magnitude of this problem, and the growing wealth divide, we can help more people reach their full potential by embedding financial counseling and other support into places where people already are — whether it’s at the doctor’s office, a library or in a shelter.”
The $5.4 million in grants are part of Wells Fargo’s philanthropic strategy, which focuses on solving three societal challenges: housing affordability, financial health and small business growth. The grants fall into three main categories: financial training, income tax assistance, and savings and credit building.
Wells Fargo awarded $3 million in grants to five nonprofits taking new approaches to building the financial skills of underserved consumers, including increased access to financial coaching, and products and services that support their financial health:
- Consumer Action: to scale integration of fintech tools into financial inclusion programs using financial training, webinars, and mini-grants to assist community organizations in helping low-income and limited-English-proficient consumers improve their financial health.
- The Financial Clinic: to launch HomeBOOST, a Financial Security Ecosystem that brings financial coaching services to individuals experiencing housing insecurity and helps shelters and housing nonprofits embed financial security strategies into their existing programs. Launched in October 2019, HomeBOOST is expected to reach 2,000 individuals and build the capacities of as many as 10 participating organizations to deliver similar coaching services in the future.
- International Rescue Committee: to expand financial coaching across ten cities to help vulnerable populations and refugees re-settling in the U.S. understand the complex financial system, access affordable financial products, establish credit, build assets and achieve financial stability.
- National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development: to expand access to culturally-relevant financial capability programs that improve financial security for low-income Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and broaden opportunities for building wealth.
- UnidosUS: to expand access to free, culturally-relevant financial coaching for Latinos in need. UnidosUS will collaborate with its Affiliates to integrate financial education into their healthcare and wellness programs and connect clients with personalized, one-on-one financial coaching services.
Income tax assistance
The federal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free tax preparation services to working families with low-to-moderate incomes, helping them access tax credits and refunds that they depend on for household necessities, debt repayment or savings. The Wells Fargo Foundation awarded two nonprofits a total of $1 million in grants to increase the capacity of VITA programs and reach more taxpayers in need:
- AARP Foundation: to expand AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, the largest volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance service in the U.S. With nearly 5,000 locations in neighborhood libraries, malls, banks, community centers, and senior centers, Tax-Aide will expand to 24 new VITA sites in 2020. AARP will also launch a Tax Time Savings campaign benefiting up to an additionally 70,000 seniors annually.
- Prosperity Now: to support the development of VITA coalitions in 10 markets through the launch of the VITA Leadership Institute. The peer-to-peer learning group will receive intensive technical assistance and leadership training, share best practices and create new tools to help strengthen their ability to deliver free tax preparation services.
Savings and credit building
Approximately 25 percent of U.S. households are considered unbanked or underbanked (FDIC, 2017 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households), which means they don’t have a bank account or have to rely on financial products and services that often have high fees. The Wells Fargo Foundation awarded grants to three nonprofits helping traditionally underserved communities access low-cost financial products that build credit, savings and emergency funds:
- Credit Builders Alliance (CBA): to launch CBA Fund, an emerging Community Development Financial Institution intermediary that provides financial resources and operating support to nonprofits making small dollar consumer loans – increasing access to safe and responsible loans within communities that have been underserved.
- Mission Asset Fund: to expand Lending Circles network and bring safe, timely, and relevant financial education and credit-building loans to communities across the country. Rooted in the time-honored tradition of social loans within communities, Lending Circles offer zero-interest, small dollar loans that enable people to establish and strengthen credit scores, reduce debt, increase savings, and realize their full potential.
- Prosperity Now: to develop and pilot a new matched-savings account program with four nonprofit partners that will incentivize as many as 400 families to boost their emergency savings so they can cover an unanticipated expense and increase their financial stability.
About Wells Fargo
Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,500 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, and the internet (wellsfargo.com). With approximately 261,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. With its corporate philanthropy, Wells Fargo aims to pave a path to stability and financial success for underserved communities by focusing on housing affordability, small business growth, and financial health, among other local community needs. In 2018, Wells Fargo donated $444 million to nearly 11,000 nonprofits. For 10 consecutive years, Wells Fargo has held the honor of No. 1 in workplace giving by United Way Worldwide. Wells Fargo team members also actively support communities by donating more than 2 million hours of volunteer time in the last year. News, insights and more information on the company’s overall corporate responsibility are available at Wells Fargo Stories and www.wellsfargo.com/impact.