Office of Financial Empowerment
Translate This Page Printer Friendly Format Email A Friend Sign-up For Office of Financial Empowerment News Set Text Size Small Font midium Font Large Font
Research Publications

OFE is committed to researching the financial services sector and the behaviors of New Yorkers with low and moderate incomes to understand better the challenges workers face and the impact of efforts to assist them. OFE's Evaluation and Analysis Team will be producing a variety of publications based on primary research and secondary data analysis, dissemination of promising practices in asset building and financial education, and evaluation of current programs.


Building Financial Counseling into Social Service Delivery: Research and Implementation Findings for Social Service Programs
This report details the work of our Capacity Building Initiative, supported by the Citi Foundation, which funded five nonprofit organizations to provide financial counseling to their clients—who included formerly incarcerated adults, foster care youth, young adult interns, young fathers, and workforce development clients. Initial findings indicate that individuals in workforce development programs who received financial counseling achieved better outcomes than comparison group clients who did not receive financial counseling.
Download the report


Virtual VITA: Expanding Free Tax Preparation
Program Insights
This brief details New York City’s experience integrating Virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) at two New York City Head Start programs in 2013. The Virtual VITA model uses technology to connect a filer with an off-site VITA tax preparer and has enormous potential to expand free tax preparation services at incredibly low cost.
Download the brief


NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment
Progress Report, 2010-2013
Covering the years 2010 through 2013, OFE’s progress report details our work—both locally and nationally through replication efforts—developing, implementing, testing, and integrating programs and products in four critical areas:
     • Financial counseling and education
     • Access to banking
     • Asset building
     • Consumer protection
Read the report


Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs
Strategy #5: Integrating Asset Building
The last report in the series “Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs,” describes the Department’s efforts to integrate short-term savings opportunities in public programs to help households take a crucial step toward their long-term savings goals and ultimately achieve—and sustain—financial stability.
Read the report
Learn more about the Supervitamin Series  


Immigrant Financial Services Study
Released November 2013, the full report is a comprehensive overview of the data, analysis, and key findings of the Immigrant Financial Services Study, one of the first field research initiatives in New York City to look specifically at the financial needs and practices of recent immigrants. Among key findings:

  • Regardless of income levels or banked status, immigrants are saving.
  • Misperceptions and uncertainty about the account opening process are impeding financial access.
  • Immigrants represent missed market opportunities for mainstream banking institutions.

Download full report
Download Research Brief in: 
   English   Español (Spanish)   中文 (Chinese)


NYC Financial Empowerment Conference:
Showcasing Partner Innovations in the Field
Prepared for the October 2013 NYC Financial Empowerment Conference, the compendium includes papers from over 20 partner organizations detailing the innovative ways they are helping to financially empower New Yorkers.
Download the compendium  

Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs
Strategy #4: Targeting Consumer Financial Protection Powers
The Report outlines how cities can use consumer protection regulations, outreach and education, and advocacy to protect the most vulnerable consumers in the financial marketplace while enhancing the effectiveness of public programs.
Read the report
Read the press release
Learn more about the Supervitamin Series
Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs
Third Report Focuses on Integrating Safe and Affordable Bank Accounts
The Report details DCA’s efforts to increase access to mainstream banking for the City’s more than 825,000 unbanked adults, including the availability of on-site direct deposit enrollment.
Read the press release
Download the report  
Download the Compilation (Reports #1, #2, #3)
Learn more about the Supervitamin Series
Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs
Second Report Focuses on Professionalizing the Field of Financial Education and Counseling
DCA’s efforts to provide high quality, consistent and demonstrably effective financial counseling at scale and professionalize the field itself are highlighted in Report #2. The Report also details DCA's partnerships with The City University of New York and Columbia University School of Social Work to create comprehensive financial counselor trainings that can serve as  models for national accreditation. Other efforts toward professionalization include standardizing the approach to financial counseling as well as outcomes measurements, and developing a network of practitioners.
Read the press release
Download the report 


Financial Empowerment (FE) Brief
The August 2012 FE Brief provides a case study for implementing access to safe banking programs at scale drawn from New York City’s experience.
Download August 2012 FE Brief 
SaveUSA Program Implementation: Insights from the Field
Offered nationally for the first time in 2011, SaveUSA is a tax time matched savings program designed to encourage short-term savings among tax filers with low to moderate incomes. This brief documents Year 1 of the program, with a focus on key implementation lessons for policymakers, advocates, and funders to highlight tax time savings in their work and provide a framework for further replication.
Download the brief 

Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs
Initial Report of Series Details "Supervitamin Effect" of Improved Social Service Outcomes When Integrating Professional Financial Counseling
This first report documents DCA's work embedding one-on-one professional financial counseling within several City services, including homeless prevention, workforce development, domestic violence interventions, and the promising results. The series builds the case that fully integrating financial empowerment and asset building strategies into public programs will lead to more effective service delivery, improving outcomes while potentially saving money.
Read the press release
Download the report 

Financial Empowerment (FE) Brief
The February 2011 FE Brief summarizes research findings from the Citywide Financial Services Study.
Download February 2011 FE Brief






Financial Empowerment (FE) Brief
The June 2010 FE Brief highlights OFE’s efforts to expand access to high-quality free financial education and counseling.
Download June 2010 FE Brief






Citywide Financial Services Study
Commissioned by OFE, the Citywide Financial Services Study quantified for the first time the number of unbanked adults in New York City (825,000).
Read the press release
Download Findings from the Citywide Financial Services Study
Download complete New York Financial Environment presentation
Download Banking Profiles for each Community District
Download Credit and Debt Profiles for each Community District
Download detailed methodology  

Report on the Office of Financial Empowerment’s First Three Years
Evaluates Progress of First Program Funded by the Center for Economic Opportunity

Launched by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in December 2006, DCA’s OFE has connected approximately 32,000 New Yorkers to financial classes and counseling, helped 226,000 New Yorkers access free or low-cost tax preparation, facilitated more than $450,000 in savings in households with low incomes through its $aveNYC Account program, advocated for stronger consumer protections in the financial services sector, and more. The report describes the multitude of financial empowerment innovations, strategies, and approaches OFE has implemented thus far—and the national implications for its work, which include building the new field of municipal financial empowerment and founding the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Coalition.
Read the report (in PDF) 


$aveNYC Account: Innovation in Asset Building
Building on the 2009 Research Brief, OFE’s Research Update presents highlights from the first three years of the $aveNYC Account program which has successfully encouraged New Yorkers with low incomes to build savings at tax time. 
Download the Research Update (December 2010)
Download the Research Brief (August 2009)

Neighborhood Financial Services Study
The Neighborhood Financial Services Study examines residents' attitudes and behaviors related to basic banking services, savings, and credit, and the role of financial education in two New York City neighborhoods: Jamaica, Queens and Melrose, Bronx. The purpose of the study is to understand better the banking dynamics in low-income neighborhoods to identify public and private opportunities for long-term, high-impact financial empowerment initiatives.
Download Executive Summary (in PDF)
Download Full Report (in PDF)