DollarWise is the Economic Mobility initiative of the United States Conference of Mayors. DollarWise believes in helping residents thrive economically. The Campaign fosters and supports innovative programs to promote educational opportunities, jobs and livable wages, financial capability, homeownership, affordable healthcare, and more. DollarWise addresses three primary components to address economic mobility:
1. Removing barriers that prevent economic advancement;
2. Creating economic opportunity through education and skills development; and
3. Building assets to create intergenerational wealth.
The DollarWise Campaign is made possible through support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, its founding sponsor.
Each year, DollarWise offers USCM members the opportunity to apply for an award through its Innovation Grant Program. As of 2022, DollarWise has awarded grants to over 100 cities nationwide.
Member cities of The United States Conference of Mayors are eligible to apply for the DollarWise Innovation Grants. DollarWise Innovation Grants are designed to support city programs that remove barriers and create opportunities for underserved residents, so that they can build intergenerational wealth.
DollarWise grant awardees demonstrate a strong dedication to helping low & moderate-income residents improve their economic health and success.
2022 Innovation Grant Award Winners
On January 21st, the DollarWise Campaign awarded Innovation Grants – of $10,000 each – to expand economic mobility efforts in seven cities. The 2022 Innovation Grants were awarded during the 90th U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts was awarded an Innovation Grant to develop a new “Microenterprise Development Program” that will help the city’s most underserved communities build new businesses and create jobs.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was awarded a DollarWise Grant to provide underserved residents with internet connectivity and digital literacy training through the City’s Tech Loaner Laptop Program.
Hempstead Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. received a DollarWise Innovation Grant to expand his city’s Homeowner Stabilization Initiative, which provides pathways to homeownership for economically vulnerable residents.
Lauderdale Lakes Mayor Hazelle Rogers will use a DollarWise Grant to develop a Home Buyer’s Club, which will provide financial education training to potential new homeowners in underserved neighborhoods.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will use a DollarWise Innovation Grant to support the city’s Economic Mobility Lab, a data-driven, city-wide effort dedicated to helping underserved residents address barriers to economic mobility, while promoting racial justice and equity.
Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess will use his DollarWise Innovation Grant to expand the Arlington Street Community Center, which offers free childcare to underserved families, while providing counseling services in multiple languages.
Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey will use a DollarWise Innovation Grant to create a new investment initiative for African American women to participate in the stock market and build intergenerational wealth.
The DollarWise Campaign is incredibly proud of each winning city and congratulates them for their efforts. DollarWise looks forward to working with each of these mayors to help expand their programs and promote economic mobility in their communities.
East Orange Mayor Ted Green (R) and Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training Manager LaDonna Johns (L) with 2018 Summer Youth Contest Winner
Summer Youth Campaign
DollarWise encourages each city to incorporate a financial education component into its summer youth employment program. Our goal is to make financial education a key component of every summer youth job.
A summer youth job can be a watershed moment in a youth’s life when he/she learns the responsibility of work and the excitement of earning money. Being hired for a job and receiving a paycheck is a teachable moment that can shape attitudes and habits that last a lifetime. The idea is to use this window of opportunity to instil in youth conscientious habits and attitudes toward money and equip them with financial-management skills.
DollarWise Summer Youth Jobs Contest
While DollarWise will not be launching a national Summer Youth Jobs Contest with prizes in 2020 due to COVID-19, we are making available six financial education modules and a final exam for summer youth employment programs to use as part of their curriculum. The modules can be accessed at www.bedollarwise.org/syc. Youth who complete the final exam with 80% accuracy or higher will be provided a personalized DollarWise certificate of excellence.
The six financial education modules are powered by BetterMoneyHabits.com, and contain valuable financial education topics for young people including: budgeting, the anatomy of a paycheck, debit and credit cards, navigating the college financial aid process, understanding the true cost of buying a car, and renting a place to live. Please reach out to the DollarWise Campaign with any questions about the modules.
Each year, the DollarWise Campaign, in partnership with The U.S. Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council, launches the DollarWise Summer Youth Contest to help youth in summer jobs have access to financial education. Since 2012, over 10,000 youth have participated in this initiative.
Each summer, youth are invited to complete a set of financial education modules that cover important topics. For 2019, these topics included: setting a budget, the anatomy of a paycheck, understanding credit and debit cards, completing a FAFSA, the true cost of purchasing a car, and renting a place to live. Please note that due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Summer Youth Jobs Contest will be postponed until 2021.
During tax season each year, DollarWise encourages cities and mayors to promote free tax assistance programming in their communities. DollarWise strongly urges cities to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) as an opportunity for residents in lower tax brackets to potentially receive more money in their tax refunds, and use that money to create a savings plan. However, DollarWise encourages mayors to promote IRS’ Free File Program as a way for residents to file their federal taxes online for free.
The IRS’ Free File Program allows taxpayers making under $73,000 a year to file their federal taxes (and state taxes where applicable) online for free. Taxpayers can participate in Free File by going to IRS.gov/FreeFile. View the video below for more information.
How do I set up an economic mobility campaign in my city?
Setting up a local economic mobility campaign may sound overwhelming, but it is easier than you might think. Sure, it will take some work and a little bit of effort, but by following a few simple steps you’ll be up and running in no time.
Step 1 Analyze your city’s economic mobility needs
Different cities scope out their economic mobility needs in different ways. Some bring together groups of city and community leaders and residents to discuss their challenges and how to begin addressing them. Others take a statistical approach based on sources such as census and IRS data. Yet others use some combination of the two. Ultimately, chances are you’ll be able to identify many different groups to help. The best approach is often to focus your efforts on one segment of your community and then expand from there as your capacity grows.
Step 2 Find out who’s already addressing those needs
Most likely, one or more organizations are working on economic mobility in your city. There’s no need to “reinvent the wheel,” as the saying goes. Learn who those groups are, how and where they do their work, and the segments of your community they work with. Groups that are probably addressing economic mobility may include faith-based groups, financial institutions, public and private schools, nonprofits, the local housing authority and/or housing-assistance programs, local employers, and other community-based groups.
Step 3 Develop partnerships with those groups
Establish partnerships with those organizations that are working to improve economic mobility. Help them to reinforce and enhance their work and to build a coordinated, citywide effort. You can work with them on organizing classes, workshops, and community programs. Your work with them will create a foundation for even greater expansion of your local economic mobility efforts in the future.
Step 4 Take advantage of all DollarWise has to offer
Apply for a DollarWise Innovation Grant.
Participate in the DollarWise Summer Youth Campaign and DollarWise Month.
Work with your local partners to organize economic mobility opportunities and events.
Work with our national partners and learn from other DollarWise cities.
Make a commitment to an ongoing, year-round economic mobility effort.
Evaluate your local campaign. Identify areas in which you can improve.
Stay Connected With DollarWise
Contact DollarWise Program Manager James Kirby at: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the program.
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The United States Conference of Mayors is pleased to release its 2020 Economic Mobility Report. The report features aggregate data that focuses on the implementation and strength of economic mobility programming in our nation’s cities.