Monday, April 20, 2015

Mexican Consulate:
Gerardo Izzo,; (212) 217 6476
Gabriela Rodriguez,; (212) 217 6470
Laura Celaya;; (212) 217 6470

Department of Consumer Affairs:
Abigail Lootens / Katyusca Abreu;; (212) 436 0042

Cities for Financial Empowerment:
Jordan Band:; (212) 885-0450

The Consulate General of Mexico, the Department of Consumer Affairs, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund and Citi Announce Expansion of the Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera to Bring Financial Counseling to Mexican Communities Across the Nation

The First Anniversary of the Financial Counseling Window Kicks Off the Consulate’s Financial Education Week 2015

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin, Consul General of Mexico Ambassador Sandra Fuentes-Berain, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) President Jonathan Mintz and Citi today announced the expansion of the Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera (Financial Counseling Window), which offers free, one-on-one financial counseling, to other Mexican Consulates across the United States as part of the first anniversary celebration of the Ventanilla. The celebration also kicked off the Consulate’s fourth Financial Education Week. Over the past year, the Ventanilla has offered financial empowerment resources to more than 26,000 people, one-on-one financial counseling to nearly 1,500 Mexican New Yorkers, and hosted workshops. The Ventanilla provides access to a broad network of services at the Consulate and helps Mexican nationals and families living in New York City achieve greater financial security. The program is made possible through generous support from Citi Community Development in partnership with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund and counseling services are provided by ARIVA.

“The de Blasio administration has made it a priority to address income inequality in our city,” said Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin. “Over the past year, the Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera has helped us get closer to achieving this goal. We’re happy to work with great partners like the Consulate, Citi, CFE, Qualitas and Ariva and serve as pioneers in merging financial empowerment services with other services provided by Consulates across the nation. We’re proud to make this announcement to not only kick off the Consulate’s Financial Education Week, but also during the City’s annual Immigrant Heritage Week.”

Furthermore, Ambassador Sandra Fuentes-Berain, Consul General of Mexico in New York, emphasized: “Our goal is to empower the Mexican nationals so that they can understand and enroll in the banking and financial services available to them. Access to financial services allows them to better integrate in the local socio-economic tissue. We are providing them the tools to achieve tangible goals, like buying a house, saving for their children’s education, or opening a business, which will ultimately contribute to economic growth and job creation. And due to the Ventanilla’s success, we are now working together with the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to replicate the Financial Counseling Window program in other Mexican Consulates in the United States.” 

“The success of the Ventanilla underscores the importance of delivering financial capability services that are research-driven, embedded into a trusted location and reflect both cultural and community-specific needs,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Community Development. “We are proud to work with the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Consulate General of Mexico to enable greater financial integration of a growing immigrant community, which each day plays an integral role in New York City’s success.”

“Thousands of Mexican nationals and their families have trusted the Ventanilla financial counseling window to make their dream of moving safely into the financial mainstream a reality,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “It’s no wonder the Consulate General of Mexico in New York’s municipal Ventanilla partnership is already of interest to consulates across the country.”

“It is a privilege and a pleasure to provide financial capabilities services at the Mexican Consulate. It is always exhilarating for our counselors to work with clients, like those at the Consulate, who have need our services and who can take full advantage of what we have to offer. We look forward to working with our partners at the Consulate to further improve and expand those services in the months ahead,” commented Irene Baldwin, Executive Director from Ariva.

Vilma is one of the clients who have taken advantage of the services at the Ventanilla. She came to the Ventanilla looking for information about the tax system in the United States. The counselor started working with Vilma and after six months was able to get her an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), file her taxes and set up a payment plan with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). “The Ventanilla is a free assistance that cannot be found anywhere else. Counselors explained step by step and with patience what I needed to do,” said Vilma.

This initiative was designed to address some of the findings from the DCA Office of Financial Empowerment’s (OFE) Immigrant Financial Services Study funded by Citi. This was the first study to take a closer look at the financial behaviors of specific immigrant populations in New York City and surveyed more than 1,300 immigrants from China, Ecuador, and Mexico. The Study found that 57 percent of Mexican immigrants surveyed are unbanked, higher than the Ecuadorian and Chinese populations. Many immigrants surveyed expressed misconceptions about the process of opening a banking account, identification requirements, and language barriers. The Study also found that the immigrant groups surveyed had a high rate of savings and the desire to save but that savings is typically done in an informal setting, lacking the protection of a formal financial institution. The Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera sought to meet this desire for increased financial access and stability. 

The Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera was built on the proven success of the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers, which have provided free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling to more than 35,000 New Yorkers and is adapted specifically to the needs of the Mexican community. Visitors to the Consulate can get free, confidential advice and support about budgeting, managing money, accessing safe and affordable banking products, building savings, filing taxes for free, improving their credit, and reducing debt. New Yorkers can visit the Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third floor of the Mexican Consulate (27 East 39th Street, Manhattan).

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) licenses, inspects, and educates businesses, assists and informs consumers, mediates complaints, and offers free financial counseling and safe banking products. DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law, the Paid Sick Leave Law and other related business laws throughout New York City and licenses nearly 80,000 businesses in 55 different industries. For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

About Citi
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

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The Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund
The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. For more information, please visit or email us at Follow us on Twitter @CFEfund or like us on Facebook.