Exchange 2021 Grant Challenge – advancing finhealth for households navigating the criminal justice system. Apply by June 30 >>

2021 Exchange Grant

Application Criteria

The Exchange grant program will be open to all types of nonprofit-fintech partnerships, including those identified in the 2019 report: Cross-Sector Solutions: A Guide to Nonprofit-Fintech Partnerships. Examples include:

  • Fintech Distribution: A nonprofit integrates a fintech tool into its existing program to increase engagement and impact.
    • Example: A nonprofit reentry support organization partners with a fintech credit building tool to help returning citizens establish credit and improve access to employment, housing, and financial products.
  • Nonprofit Referral: A fintech integrates or refers customers to relevant nonprofit services.
    • Example: A fintech serving individuals with incarcerated loved ones partners with a nonprofit to offer financial coaching and career development resources.
  • Systems Enhancements: A nonprofit implements fintech systems or tools to enhance back-end systems or operational processes
    • Example: A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution partners with a fintech to enable the use of non-traditional forms of data in lending practices.
  • Insights and Design: A fintech engages a nonprofit to get design input into new products and features
    • Example: A budgeting fintech engages a nonprofit to design and test a new product for returning citizens that is responsive to these users’ needs.

Key Criteria

  • Impact potential: How specifically does the partnership address financial health? Is it designed in ways that have a high likelihood of success?
  • Originality/Innovation: Does the partnership represent a new approach to nonprofit-fintech partnerships and/or addressing the financial health challenges of justice-involved individuals and their families?
  • Partner strength: What are the general strengths and capabilities of each partner? Are they capable of fulfilling their roles in the partnership? How committed are they to working together during the grant period and beyond?
  • Potential for growth: Is there a clear pathway to expansion, replication, or evolution of the project should it prove successful?
  • Focus on the financial health of LMI and underserved communities impacted by the criminal justice system: Does the partnership focus on improving the financial health of impacted low- and moderate-income (LMI) and underserved individuals and/or communities? 
  • Person-centered: Is the solution driven by insights from individuals impacted by involvement in the justice system? Are impacted individuals involved in defining or leading the solution? The Exchange is interested in ensuring that we are supporting organizations that actively engage with, and/or are staffed by, led by, or governed by individuals impacted by the criminal justice system and their families. 

Grant Eligibility:

  • Project must be focused on addressing the financial health challenges of justice-involved individuals and/or their families.
  • Applications must have both partners identified and fully committed to work together during the entire grant period from October 2021 through June 2022.
  • Organizations may submit applications with different partners (e.g., two applications with two different partners).
  • Nonprofit Community Development Financial Institutions are eligible for grants.
  • Nonprofit organizations registered as 501(c)4 organizations will not be eligible.

Grant Use Restrictions

We recognize that COVID has made the work of consumer-serving nonprofits more challenging, so we prioritize flexibility in our grant program. Funds can be used to support both fintech and nonprofit activities with the following terms:

  • Majority of $50,000 grant should go to the nonprofit partner (minimum of $26,000)
  • Limited use for travel
  • Any systems enhancements must be project-specific

If you have questions or need help finding a partner, please email us or sign up for office hours. We welcome you to join the Financial Solutions Lab Exchange and register for our May 13 Virtual Fastpitch to learn more about the grant program and meet potential partners. 

The Financial Solutions Lab Exchange’s Approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A key mandate of the Financial Solutions Lab Exchange is to seek and support nonprofit-fintech partnerships addressing the financial health needs of low- to moderate-income individuals and historically underserved communities in the U.S. The Exchange aims to support fintech founders and nonprofit leaders from underrepresented communities, and those building solutions with women and people of color in mind, particularly Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities.

The Exchange also wants to work with grantees committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion principles at all levels of their organization. We believe organizations guided by these principles are best equipped to support vulnerable and underserved populations with innovative and responsive solutions.

The Financial Solutions Lab and its partners define diversity, equity, and inclusion as follows:

Diversity

Diversity is recognizing, acknowledging, appreciating, and bringing together individuals and groups with unique perspectives and differing backgrounds. The Financial Solutions Lab is intentionally focused on innovative ideas that support populations facing acute and persistent financial health challenges, including (but not limited to) people of color, women, aging individuals, and individuals with disabilities.

Equity

Equity means that all individuals, regardless of age, race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, marital status, socioeconomic status, protected veteran status, or disability have equitable access to economic opportunity. In practice, this does not mean identical interventions. Rather, equity is about providing groups of people with customized supportive services that will enable them to thrive. Through these services, we aim to counteract unequal access to economic opportunity caused by historical and present-day discriminatory systems and practices.

Inclusion

Inclusion is the conscious practice of creating an environment of involvement and mutual respect – where we support and welcome a broad spectrum of ideas, backgrounds, identities, and perspectives. Inclusion puts the concept of diversity into action and fosters a culture where individuals are given a voice and can bring their whole selves to every situation.

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