The need for new ideas to improve Americans’ financial capability has been evident throughout the recent recession. Never before have Americans been so highly motivated to improve their financial behavior. At the same time, many people are confronting foreclosure, unemployment or other ills related to the downturn that impede behavioral change. As new financial products and services emerge, and as financial service providers respond to the new economic and regulatory environment, consumers need better guidance to make wise financial decisions.

In response to this growing need, the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) launched the Financial Capability Innovation Fund (FCIF). We issued a Request for Proposals in late 2010 from nonprofit applicants interested in creating new and innovative financial capability interventions. A collaborative of funders led by the Citi Foundation and also including Bank of America, Capital One, Morgan Stanley, Experian, U.S. Bank and Visa Inc. provided a total of $1.5 million in available grant funding. Applicants were encouraged to develop programs in partnership with organizations in the nonprofit, for profit, or government sectors. We planned to award four to six grants ranging from $200,000 to $300,000 each, giving priority to programs that coupled financial products and services with education; leveraged technology; and applied behavioral economics concepts to positively affect financial behavior.

We received 246 proposals totaling more than $67 million in requests from nonprofit organizations across the country. Five were chosen for funding.