City of Pueblo Receives Competitive CityStart Grant Award to Kickstart Local Municipal Financial Empowerment Efforts During COVID-19
City of Pueblo Chosen by CFE Fund as One of Five Localities to Receive Award; Will Identify Strategies to Financially Empower Residents During and Beyond COVID-19
November 30, 2020 – The City of Pueblo, along with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) today announced their selection as one of five local governments to receive a planning grant and technical assistance to identify and plan for local municipal financial empowerment strategic priorities. The CFE Fund’s CityStart initiative, with support from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and others, offers local leaders and their administrations a structured approach to identify financial empowerment goals, convene stakeholders for sustainable success, develop concrete strategies, and ultimately craft an actionable blueprint rooted in local priorities and opportunities. This cohort will also have a dedicated focus on financial empowerment during COVID-19, prioritizing resident engagement and racial justice strategies. City of Pueblo will receive an intensive 6-month technical assistance engagement partnership, along with a $25,000 planning grant. In addition to Pueblo, other selected partners chosen through a competitive process include: Hennepin County, MN; Jackson, TN; Montgomery, AL; and Tempe, AZ.
In Pueblo, the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the need for financial empowerment and elevated it as a priority in the Office of the Mayor. Considerable time and effort is being expended addressing the immediate financial needs of Puebloans brought on by the pandemic. Mayor Gradisar understands the strong correlation between the financial stability of a city's residents and the financial stability of municipal government and its ability to serve its citizenry well. The Pueblo Mayor’s Office believes that engaging its community to identify the most pressing financial empowerment needs, building a blueprint to address them, then launching programs that foster economic stability and build community wealth - with a commitment to equity - is the necessary extension of its 2020 work. Upon successful completion, the City will have collaborated with stakeholders in the community to build a Financial Empowerment Blueprint.
Pueblo is part of the third cohort of CityStart partners for the CFE Fund; these five new local partners join twenty-four localities that have already completed the CityStart engagement. Past partners have since created blueprints that outline their administration’s public vision for integrating financial empowerment efforts within local government infrastructure – some working to open an Office of Financial Empowerment to serve as a platform for overall efforts, some identifying strategies centered around a specific municipal priority such as affordable housing, and some replicating existing programs such as the Financial Empowerment Center FEC Public initiative.
Says Mayor Gradisar, “These are unprecedented times, and we clearly need a plan to support our local businesses if we are going to economically recover from this pandemic. Beyond mitigation, much more work will need to be done to help residents rebound and rebuild. Financial empowerment strategies hold great promise as part of that work. Collaborations such as this with CFE and CityStart are how we accomplish this.”
“Cities/counties control a host of policies, programs, and funding streams that can transform the lives of residents with low incomes on a large scale – and the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored this critical role of local government. Across the nation, more and more local leaders are turning to innovative financial empowerment strategies to improve the financial stability of their residents,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “We congratulate Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar and look forward to working with him to empower Pueblo residents, and we thank JPMorgan Chase & Co. for their longstanding partnership and investment in municipal financial empowerment.”
“Cities have always played a critical role in ensuring low-income and diverse communities are equipped with the tools to build financial health. With the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on communities that were already vulnerable, efforts like CFE Fund’s CityStart program are critical to the financial health, resilience and stability of local city residents,” said Sarah Willis Ertur, vice president, Financial Health at JPMorgan Chase.
The CityStart initiative draws on the CFE Fund’s extensive programmatic work with local government leaders in over 100 cities and counties, connecting critical on-the-ground insights about the impact of financial instability on families, communities, and municipal budgets with tangible, measurable, and sustainable municipal strategies to improve families' financial lives. Pueblo, working with the CFE Fund, will craft its municipal financial empowerment blueprint identifying actionable implementation steps based on the financial needs of residents, key Administration priorities, and partnership opportunities. Development of the blueprint will be based on a series of virtual meetings with key stakeholders, with a specific focus on financial empowerment during COVID-19, resident engagement, and racial equity. CityStart partners have historically leveraged their engagement with the CFE Fund to further their commitment to this work.
About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)
The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders in over 100 cities and counties to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources – including 24 local governments that have already completed the CityStart engagement. The CFE Fund has disbursed over $43 million in grant support to municipal partners. For more information, please visit www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.