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UNC Center for Community Capital tapped as research partner to evaluate program impact

The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) has awarded a $1.5 million grant from its Financial Capability Innovation Fund to five cutting-edge nonprofit-led projects designed to help low-income, under-served consumers better manage their finances.

The UNC Center for Community Capital is one of four research partners that will evaluate the programs to measure their impact.

The grantees are:

  • Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley will test whether social commitments and text alerts can help consumers reduce debt.
  • Co-opportunity, Inc. will leverage technology via a new online platform to enhance the effectiveness and scale of its volunteer budget coaching program.
  • Filene Research Institute will test whether rewarding consistent timely loan payments with interest rate reductions leads to better payment behavior
  • Grow Brooklyn/Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union and Piggymojo will use goal visualization, social dynamics and mobile technology to help low-income savers turn impulse buys into impulse saves.
  • Mission Asset Fund will franchise its Cestas Populares program, a peer loan coupled with product-specific peer-led education, to help immigrants build credit and manage credit wisely.

CFSI selected the five projects through a highly competitive process from among 246 applications totaling more than $67 million in requests. Organizations from 44 states responded to the request for proposals CFSI released in September. CFSI will soon release a white paper and host a webinar about the innovation trends presented in the proposals. To register for the webinar, visit

The UNC Center for Community Capital will evaluate the Grow Brooklyn/Piggymojo project to determine how effective the product was for the users, what elements of the product were most useful for increasing savings and achieving savings goals, and how this method of savings compared to other methods.  Piggymojo is aimed at increasing “impulse savings” through the use of specific technology that will help participants quantify and enjoy the act of saving towards a personalized goal.

Other research partners are: Innovations for Poverty Action at Yale University), Center for Financial Security at University of Wisconsin-Madison) and César E. Chávez Institute at San Francisco State University.

In addition to the financial award, grantees will receive strategic guidance, technical assistance, visibility, and an unparalleled network in the financial services industry.

The Financial Capability Innovation Fund is supported by a collaborative of funders led by the Citi Foundation with Bank of America, Capital One, Morgan Stanley, Experian, U.S. Bank and Visa Inc. For more information on the projects, visit

Consumer financial services is a key area of study for the UNC Center for Community Capital, the leading center for research and policy analysis on the transformative power of capital on households and communities in the United States. Part of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the center offers data and analysis that helps policymakers, advocates and the private sector find sustainable ways to expand economic opportunity to more people more effectively. For more information, visit or call (919) 843-2140.

Topics(s): Financial Capability, Financial Inclusion, Financial Services Industry
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