Social Innovation Fund (Center for Economic Opportunity)
In 2010, the Mayor’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and the Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC received a $5.7 million Social Innovation Fund (SIF) federal grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. This grant is supporting the replication of five of CEO's most promising anti-poverty programs in New York City and seven partner cities: Kansas City, MO; Memphis, TN; northeast Ohio; Newark, NJ; San Antonio, TX; Savannah, GA; and Tulsa, OK.
The SIF programs being piloted are:
- Jobs-Plus, a site-based employment initiative for public housing residents;
- Family Rewards, a conditional cash transfer program to reduce current and future poverty;
- $aveUSA, a savings program linked to the Earned Income Tax Credit;
- Young Adult Internship Program, a paid work exploration and education program for disconnected youth; and
- WorkAdvance, a sector-focused training and advancement program for low-wage workers.
The Mayor’s Fund continues to seek private support for this innovative national effort. For more information on the SIF programs, please visit www.nyc.gov/ceo.
Financial Empowerment Centers (Department of Consumer Affairs)
The Financial Empowerment Center Initiative provides one-on-one free, confidential, and individualized financial counseling and coaching in English and Spanish. Administered by the Department of Consumer Affairs' Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) and the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), the first Financial Empowerment Center, in the Melrose section of the Bronx, was opened by Mayor Bloomberg on June 19, 2008. Center staff provide direct assistance to people in crisis, help families stabilize their finances and plan for their future, and provide strategic referrals to other public and private resources. Financial counseling services are targeted to money management, budgeting, selecting safe and affordable financial products, evaluating credit decisions, credit and debt assistance, negotiating with creditors, managing debt, and understanding (and exercising) consumer rights and responsibilities in the financial services marketplace. On May 11, 2009 the Mayor opened three new Centers in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.
$aveNYC/SaveUSA (Department of Consumer Affairs and Center for Economic Opportunity)
In an effort to explore strategies to help low-income families build savings for asset development and emergency needs, the Department of Consumer Affairs' Office of Financial Empowerment piloted a matched savings incentive program during the 2008 tax season. The initiative, $aveNYC, was targeted towards Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) recipients at select Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites who committed to holding at least part of their refund in a designated account for at least one year. Research on the first year cohort resulted in improved participation rates and expanded implementation of the program in 2009 to all tax filers at select VITA sites.
Over the three pilot years, the $aveNYC program successfully encouraged New Yorkers with low incomes to build savings at tax time. The program reached over 2,300 participants, who saved $1.7 million in total with an average savings of $610 per term. Approximately 80 percent of participants saved for the full term, despite incomes averaging close to $17,000.
Through the Center for Economic Opportunity and Social Innovation Fund, $aveNYC is now being replicated nationally as SaveUSA in New York City; Newark, NJ; Tulsa, OK and San Antonio, TX. During the 2011 tax season, the four cities successfully opened 1,664 SaveUSA accounts. These participants committed over $875,000 to the program at the point of enrollment. In addition, approximately three out of four of these account holders saved for the full year and received the match funds. As a result of the SaveUSA program, these account holders had an average $902 in SaveUSA-encouraged savings, including their savings deposit plus match funds, representing nearly $1 million in savings.
Opportunity NYC (Center for Economic Opportunity)
The nation's first conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, Opportunity NYC, is an evidence-based strategy for reducing poverty in New York City. Officially launched by Mayor Bloomberg in September 2007, the initiative provides financial incentives to low-income families to improve education, health and workforce outcomes and consists of three separate pilot programs for children, adults, and families.
Implemented by the City of New York, in collaboration with non-profit partners MDRC and Seedco, the Opportunity NYC Family Rewards program includes a sample of approximately 5,000 families in Central and East Harlem in Manhattan, Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn, and Morris Heights/Mount Hope and East Tremont/Belmont in the Bronx. Two other pilots, the adult-focused Work Rewards program and the child-focused SPARK program, are being implemented in many neighborhoods across the City. Unlike conventional approaches to poverty reduction which focus on social services to create a safety net for those in need, incentive-based strategies increase participation in targeted activities and programs that decrease factors contributing to poverty and long-term dependency. Monetary incentives are being awarded when households meet specific targets.
Opportunity NYC represents a ground-breaking and inventive approach to poverty reduction and a national model for anti-poverty policy. The initiative will be rigorously evaluated to determine the impact of incentive-based strategies on child, youth, and family outcomes as well as on overall poverty reduction. Evaluation results will help determine whether these strategies are a cost-effective approach to reducing poverty in NYC, and will serve to inform future policy decisions. Over $62 million is being raised entirely through private donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals.
Read the Executive Summary of the CEO Strategy & Implementation Report, released December 27, 2007 (in PDF)
Mayor's Tax Credit Campaign (Department of Consumer Affairs)
In 2002, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg directed the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to create a Citywide coordinated campaign to increase the number of eligible New Yorkers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In the intervening years, New York City has assembled the most comprehensive EITC Coalition in the country, combining the efforts of hundreds of partner organizations to help New Yorkers file their taxes for free or at a low cost, and raise awareness of important tax credits such as the EITC and the NYC Child Care Tax Credit. The EITC has been called the most successful anti-poverty program in the country, returning government dollars to working families and individuals through either a credit on taxes or as cash refunds.
Over the past decade, DCA has distributed millions of pieces of literature during tax season to City agencies, post offices, public libraries, and schools and engaged in both grassroots and large-scale outreach efforts to promote the EITC as well as the New York City Child Care Tax Credit, the first of its kind in the nation. In all tax season work, the focus is also on ensuring that New Yorkers have access to safe and affordable tax preparation services. Since 2002, the Citywide EITC Coalition has collected nearly $20 billion in tax credit refunds; and the City’s free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites have completed more than 550,000 returns, 40% of which were EITC returns.
Workforce1 Veterans Career Center (Department of Small Business Services)
In July 2012, the Department of Small Business Services opened a dedicated Workforce1 Veterans Career Center. This public-private partnership offers intensive career services, with veterans on staff to provide expertise specific to the veteran community, such as how to position and translate military experience for the civilian workforce. Center staff maintain relationships with veteran-serving organizations and with employers committed to hiring veterans. The City also provides priority job placement services for veterans at all Workforce1 Centers throughout the five boroughs.
Learn more on the Workforce 1 website.