Practical Partnerships: How This Funder Is Tackling Financial Education

To kick off the new year, we looked at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s upcoming anniversary grants program and how economic security was set to be a top priority. Since then, local groups have been submitting proposals for new and promising solutions to give a financial boost to low- and mid-income residents in the region.

Related: About Those New "Anniversary Grants" the Silicon Valley Community Foundation is Giving Out

Well, news of the first two of these grants was released not long ago, and the theme of this round was financial education. Two organizations received economic security grants of $100,000 each.

There are a few different things that SVCF wanted to tackle with these two new grants, such as lack of access to financial education, low savings rates, and predatory lending. The focus of these grants is very targeted and local to bolster low-income families in the Bay Area.

MyPath Credit received one of the two new $100,000 grants to fund a program that will help low- and mid-income 18-24-year-olds build credit and repair damaged credit, working in partnership with Self-Help. The partnership between MyPath and the Self-Help, which has been around for three years, is the only youth-focused credit-building program of its kind in the country.

The other new financial education grantee is E-FAST, a project of AnewAmerica Community Corporation and Centro Community Partners, which provides skill-building, access to non-predatory capital, and networking/mentorship opportunities to prospective entrepreneurs. But in line with SVCF’s target demographic, this program will be serving low-income and immigrant communities of color.

Valerie Cuevas, a SVCF senior program officer, shared the following statement:

The mainstream financial community ignores low-income communities as offering too little profit for too much overhead. But such short-term thinking leaves these families stuck in a downward spiral of debt, ruined credit and chronically paltry savings. We hope the programs we celebrate today will become models of how to turn this situation around and bring our low-income neighbors into greater stability and upward mobility.

Something that stands out about these two grantees is that they are both for work done in partnerships. We've been seeing that a lot in the financial inclusion space, with different stakeholders combing different skills and perspectives to tackle daunting challenges. One driver here is that a broader array of players is getting involved in financial inclusion work, including more banks and tech firms—creating new opportunities for partnerships. 

The Bay Area is one place where there's been a lot of energy around financial inclusion lately, and SVCF has been an important catalyst in that regard, as we've reported in the past. 

RelatedHow the Silicon Valley Community Foundation is Fighting Predatory Lending

The next SVCF anniversary grant opportunity coming up is for immigration, and there’s an information session webinar on April 11 that you can RSVP for. These applications will be due on April 28, and two grant awards will be announced in June. Looking forward, immigration proposals should really focus on ways to recognize immigrants as assets in the Bay Area. Immigration is such a hot topic all around the country, so it’ll certainly be interesting to see which organizations SVCF deems to be worthy of this opportunity. Learn more on SVCF’s anniversary grants page.

Meanwhile, if you want to get a sense of the bigger picture of how SVCF's overall size and giving has been exploding—it made $1.3 billion in grants in 2016—check out the post below. 

Related: Explosion: The Latest Evidence That Silicon Valley Giving Is Going Totally Nuts