By Garry Reeder, Vice President, Innovation and Policy, Financial Health Network
Fintech has a powerful role to play in solving financial health challenges in a more inclusive way. Earlier today, during EMERGE Live, I spoke with Karen Keogh from JPMorgan Chase and Yanela Frias from Prudential Financial on how the current coronavirus pandemic and historical social inequities have impacted the already fragile financial health of U.S. households – and how fintech tools could be leveraged to improve financial health for the most vulnerable populations.
In addition to discussing how JPMorgan Chase and Prudential were responding to new financial health challenges faced by individuals, we also shared some exciting news about the Financial Solutions Lab funding and programming.
Prudential Financial Joins the Financial Solutions Lab
Today, we welcomed Prudential Financial to the Financial Solutions Lab. Together with our founding partner JPMorgan Chase, we’ll work together around our shared mission of cultivating, supporting, and scaling innovative ideas that advance the financial health of low- to moderate-income (LMI) households and historically underserved communities in the U.S. The additional $10 million commitment from Prudential expands the Financial Solutions Lab to $60 million over a 10-year period to scale financial and technical support for fintechs that are developing solutions for underserved communities.
2020 Financial Solutions Lab Accelerator Cohort
We also announced the sixth Accelerator cohort today at EMERGE Live. This new group of fintech providers are developing products and services to advance the financial health of underserved workers and students, two groups that have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to helping students and workers address overall financial health challenges, these four fintech innovators in the new Accelerator cohort have also pivoted to focus on helping students and workers navigate countless new financial health challenges brought on by the global pandemic including lost income, transitions to remote teaching and learning, sudden financial shocks, unemployment, and difficulty in accessing student aid and managing student loan debt. More information on the companies and how they’re specifically helping workers and students through the COVID-19 crisis is below.
The Accelerator welcomes Climb Credit, Edquity, Finli, and Summer to the 2020 cohort.
- Climb Credit (New York, N.Y.) offers payment and financing options for students to attend career-advancing education programs – which have been verified for positive career outcomes – with loan programs that create economic mobility and can be used by people from all financial backgrounds, including those who are unemployed. Climb recently created a hardship forbearance program so users can pause their Climb payments for two months without accruing any interest to help them manage financial challenges resulting from current events. Climb also worked with school partners to help ensure they were still operating remotely to deliver career skills to students, and launched a $250,000 scholarship fund with a school partner aimed at helping unemployed Americans reskill for healthcare careers.
- Edquity (New York, N.Y.) administers universities’ emergency cash grants and provides social service referrals for college students facing financial insecurity. In the last few months, Edquity made product adaptations to support managing federal CARES Act emergency aid dollars on behalf of college partners, and to allow partners to serve all students, including DACA and undocumented students, with a single application.
- Finli (Los Angeles, Calif.) removes the administrative burden of invoicing, tuition collection, and maintaining a digital presence for family-centric businesses like neighborhood schools and enrichment programs by providing an enterprise solution for parents to use. Finli launched Finli Classes to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic by giving them an online platform to teach their classes to a wider audience. 100% of tuition fees goes directly to the small businesses helping them keep their doors open another day.
- Summer (New York, N.Y.) helps student loan borrowers save on their loans by identifying and enrolling users in the best repayment and forgiveness programs for their situation. Summer updated its product to account for the large number of borrowers who are now collecting unemployment, and provided clear messaging throughout the product to help ensure borrowers understand their new options under the CARES Act. Summer also launched programs in several states where Summer is provided at no charge to residents who have filed for unemployment. In addition, Summer announced that it is teaming up with Steady to introduce student loan financial assistance to the millions of hourly and gig workers on Steady’s platform.
The Financial Solutions Lab will continue to address financial health challenges across different focus areas with its three main areas of programming:
- The Financial Solutions Lab Accelerator, now in its sixth year as one of the few fintech accelerators focused on financial health
- The Nonprofit-Fintech Exchange, a meeting place for interested nonprofit organizations and fintech providers to explore collaboration and swap insights to maximize their collective impact on the communities they serve
- The Financial Solutions Lab Collaborative, which will focus on identifying and exploring new, innovative solutions that are not yet available in the market to address unmet financial health needs
For more information on how Financial Solutions Lab portfolio companies are responding to COVID-19, visit our previous blog.
The Financial Solutions Lab’s Nonprofit-Fintech Exchange is accepting applications for its 2020 grant program focused on worker and student financial health – focused on nonprofit-fintech partnerships that will tackle challenges stemming from COVID-19. Grant recipients will receive $50,000 in capital for each partnership, technical assistance to execute projects, the chance to engage and learn from peers, and more. Applications are due June 30.