Serving the financially underserved: We can all agree it’s crucial to the success of our communities. It’s the solution that’s less obvious. Working together, we can all collaborate around this important issue. Do you have ideas or expertise to add to the conversation?
CO-OP Financial Services has launched a challenge on innovation platform OpenIDEO to find out how we can all harness the power of communities to deliver financial empowerment to those who need it most. Ideas have been pouring in. Here are a few that stand out so far:
- Launch a grassroots youth campaign to end the stigma surrounding financial education.
A major challenge to any education initiative is motivation. Modeled after the grassroots movement “Rock the Vote,” this initiative would tap into the power of younger generations to change the conversation around money. By encouraging younger generations to get excited about their own financial health, they would not only help achieve financial stability in today’s communities, but change social norms and pass these new ideals down to future generations.
- Empower individual community members to function as mini banks.
The “unbanked” are a large population of Americans who don’t have access to traditional, cost-effective banking services. Instead, they pay exorbitant fees for check cashing, payday loans, and more. Individuals with the financial means to do so could act as “mini banks,” vetted through social underwriting, and provide these services to those who can’t otherwise access them.
- Connect financial professionals with those who need expertise most.
For those who have long struggled to obtain basic living needs like food, water, and shelter, rehabilitating back into the community can be both financially confusing and draining. Maslow’s Street Fair would connect homeless individuals with community members in an active and communicative environment. Volunteers would set up displays showcasing innovative ways individuals can fulfill their essential needs on a budget, while also educating the community’s homeless population on basic personal finance concepts in a hands-on, conversational way.
What’s Your Idea?
The ideas above are just three of many that have been submitted. With the help of MasterCard and OpenIDEO, the Financial Empowerment Challenge has prompted more than 200 individuals and credit union leaders alike to submit their proposals. The best contributions will share the THINK Prize of $10,000.
The Financial Empowerment Challenge will remain in the “Ideas” phase through April 29, during which everyone is invited to help sharpen proposed ideas into workable solutions. This is a perfect moment for credit union leaders to weigh. How would new ideas work in the real world? What opportunities are there for credit unions to fill the gaps? What challenges do you see — and how might you address them?
A credit union’s core purpose is to engage with the community and help elevate the financial knowledge of its members — the THINK Prize challenge is a perfect opportunity to do just that. Make sure your credit union is a part of the conversation by starting here.
Also- be sure to catch OpenIDEO at THINK 15! Attendees are invited to participate in a live workshop during the THINK Inward sessions, Tuesday, May 6, at 4:30pm.