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NCUF calls for proposals to CFSI Fund
MADISON, Wis. (9/24/12)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) says credit unions can submit grant proposals to the Financial Capability Innovation Fund II (FCIF II), an initiative led by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), which helps underserved consumers.

FCIF II will provide financial and technical assistance to nonprofit-led initiatives that promote financial capability among low-income and underserved consumers. Credit unions can submit applications in response to CFSI's Request for Proposals, which outlines the competitive process for distribution of $2.5 million of grant funding.

NCUF's board voted to refresh its annual grant program to make a bigger impact with its philanthropy. Instead of making a number of smaller grants for different projects, NCUF will make one large grant to a single project with national reach and relevance to the credit union system. NCUF is working with CFSI to find and fund a project that not only promotes financial capability among low-income consumers, but also has significant impact to the credit union movement.

"CFSI receives a plethora of groundbreaking proposals, and we want to elevate the number of ideas proposed by our community," said Bucky Sebastian, NCUF executive director. NCUF hopes a significant number of proposals will stem from credit unions, working on their own or with other organizations. "There is a strong connection between the member-centric, community-based mission of credit unions and the goals of CFSI and the Financial Capability Innovation Fund II."

Since CFSI's inception in 2004, it has provided $3.75 million in grants to support 16 strategies to improve access to high-quality financial products and services and consumers' financial capability.

"Credit unions are well-positioned to apply to the fund given the focus on projects that couple new or improved tools for education, guidance, or advice with well-designed financial products," said Sarah Gordon, CFSI vice president, advisory services and nonprofit investments.

Some examples of recent CFSI funded projects include:

  • PiggyMojo, a New York-based start-up, which is partnering with financial institutions to develop a tool to help low-income couples capitalize on "impulse savings" moments by using their mobile phone. By sending text messages, customers can move money from their prepaid card to a savings account whenever they decide to spend less.
  • Co-Opportunity Inc., a financial coaching and counseling program based in Connecticut. It is developing an online platform,, to help volunteer budget coaches coordinate with their clients. By using technology in the online channel, the coaches can serve more clients.
  • Filene Research Institute, which is conducting the Lower Interest for Timeliness (LIFT) program. It offers reductions in annual percentage rates on subprime auto loans for borrowers who make on-time payments. Several of Filene's partnering credit unions will implement the program nationwide.

CFSI's Request for Proposals document details its funding criteria very clearly, Sebastian said. "One key component is that the project must 'break new ground,' meaning that it represents a new or improved model in the nonprofit field or financial services industry for promoting financial capability."

For more information, use the link.

Credit unions with 501(c)(3) affiliates can apply and other credit unions can apply in partnership with a 501(c)(3) organization.  Grant applicants should complete and send proposals to CFSI, not NCUF. The deadline to submit proposals is Nov. 2.  For inquiries about CFSI's Request for Proposals, send an e-mail to
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