San Francisco’s Office of Financial Empowerment

Aiming to help more of the City’s lower-income residents enter the financial mainstream, San Francisco’s Office of Financial Empowerment provides and promotes a range of programs and partnerships designed to help residents learn about money, open a checking account, take advantage of tax credits, save for education, overcome setbacks, and gain independence.  One highly successful initiative is Bank On San Francisco.  Developed in 2006, Bank on San Francisco was the first program in the U.S. focused on helping people without access to mainstream financial institutions to obtain accounts at banks or credit unions.  The program, which results in 10,000 new checking accounts being opened in the San Francisco region a year, has been so successful that over 100 other localities have started or are in the process of developing their own local program.  In 2010, the Office launched its Kindergarten to College initiative, which is the first publicly funded, universal children’s college savings account program in the U.S. Every child entering a City public kindergarten is given a College Savings Account (CSA) with $50; children enrolled in the National Student Lunch Program receive an additional $50.  Designed to ensure every child can save for post-secondary education, the initiative also includes incentives to promote savings and financial education.  Since the program’s start, more than 13,000 accounts have been opened.

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