Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund select City of Syracuse and CNY Works to implement program to teach money management skills and increase banking access

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh today announced the City of Syracuse and CNY Works, Inc. have been chosen to receive the Summer Jobs Connect Grant, a two-year award for $95,000 from the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) and the Citi Foundation to increase access to financial resources for youth. Three peer mentors between the ages of 14 to 21 were trained using the Summer Jobs Connect funds to provide empowerment through Peer Financial Literacy Education for youth participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program.

“An essential component to helping our young people be successful is making sure they have opportunities to gain work experience and a paycheck,” said Mayor Walsh. “The Cites for Financial Empowerment Fund has served as an invaluable financial education partner and now this grant will allow the City and CNY Works to provide financial management tools for the next generation.”

The City has worked with CNY Works and local partners to place over 400 summer youth employees at work sites citywide. For the first year of the grant, funding will go towards administrative costs, marketing, salaries, and an engagement process to prepare the peer mentors to serve as instructors. The peer mentors will be trained to visit sites in-person and virtually to offer insights for summer hires to open safe bank accounts and enroll in direct deposit. The remaining funds from the grant will be dispersed in 2022 for programming needs designated for the next group of peer mentors.

“A summer job is more than a job – it’s a critical opportunity to open a safe account and start managing and saving money,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “When paired with peer mentorship on money management and safe banking, a summer job is a strong first step towards a brighter financial future. We are proud to partner with Mayor Walsh, the Syracuse Summer Youth Employment Program, and the Citi Foundation to financially empower Syracuse residents through Summer Jobs Connect.”

Local financial institutions have stepped up to act as the bridge between the instructional portion and the actual banking aspect. Cooperative Federal Credit Union will assist the summer hires with creating non-custodial youth accounts with remote account opening, eliminating the need for a parent or guardian to sign-off. Bank of America developed a financial education curriculum that can be applied and will offer youth accounts, connecting participants to its nationwide branch network. Albany-based State Employees Federal Credit Union will also contribute a financial education program that can be used to help the youth lay the foundation for a secure financial future

“While we have always integrated financial literacy into our summer youth employment program, this grant allows us to do much more by strengthening such important training and demonstrating its use through the work of our peer mentors,” stated Amy Stage, Workforce Manager, CNY Works. “We are confident this grant will provide a useful tool in the development of each participant’s financial education. We are excited that young people in our community will have this opportunity.” 

In addition to the educational and banking element, the peer mentors will manage social media platforms designed to inform and recruit other young people early to focus on becoming financially literate. The end of the grant’s lifecycle will determine the overall impact relative to the number of accounts opened, direct deposits set up, and youth empowered to begin their journey to economic stability.

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