Piles of Coins and Sign of calMoneySmart

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about the CalMoneySmart grant program. If you have further questions, please contact us at grants@dfpi.ca.gov.

New! Can insurance be included in the proposed program budget?

Insurance that is intended to protect the applicant organization (e.g. General Liability, Directors and Officers) is not an eligible expense.

Health insurance (provided to employees as part of a fringe benefits package) is an eligible expense.


Who can apply for a CalMoneySmart grant?

Any nonprofit organization may apply for a CalMoneySmart grant if they meet both requirements:

  1. Exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and organized and operated exclusively for one or more of the purposes described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  2. Have no part of their net earnings inure to the benefit of a private shareholder or individual.

Does my proposed program need to satisfy all three of the stated authorized uses for the CalMoneySmart grant?

No. Programs are only required to cover at least one of the authorized uses. You may choose to do more.

The three authorized uses include:

  • Design, develop, or offer free classroom- or web-based financial education and empowerment content intended to help unbanked and underbanked consumers achieve, identify, and access lower-cost financial products and services, establish or improve their credit, increase their savings, or lower their debt.
  • Provide individualized, free financial coaching to unbanked and underbanked consumers.
  • Design, develop, or offer a free financial product or service intended to help unbanked and underbanked consumers identify and access responsible financial products and financial services, establish or improve their credit, increase their savings, or lower their debt.

Can my proposed financial education program be web-based?

Yes. Your plan for providing web-based services should clearly articulate how this format helps you to reach your intended audience. Remember that funds used for any services must serve participants in California.

Is there a minimum or maximum grant amount I can apply for?

There is no minimum grant amounts. The maximum grant that can be requested is $200,000, which may include administrative costs of no more than 15% to operate your proposed project.

What restrictions are there on uses of grant funding?

No more than 15% can be used for administrative costs. (See “What are administrative costs?” question below.) Failure to comply with this requirement shall render the organization ineligible for grant funding during the subsequent fiscal year.

What are considered administrative costs?

Administrative costs may include, but are not limited to, costs of workforce overhead, human resources, accounting, finance, business and facility operations, and information technology.

Staff hired to implement your project are considered a direct cost and should not be part of the (15%) administrative fees.

Can grant funding be used to purchase “swag” to promote the financial education programs?

If the products are used as a form of marketing, it may be accepted as part of an outreach plan, however that would need details on the cost/benefit, and the budget and scope would need to be pre-approved before implementation.

If the products used attempt to “buy” participation, that would be unacceptable for the funds.

Can CalMoneySmart grant be used for training purposes, for example a class on how to access loan capital through a bank?

Yes, as long as it focuses on people who are unbanked or underbanked and complies with grant guidelines and goals of the grant program.

How can my organization work with other organizations to apply for a grant?

Collaboration among one or more organizations is allowed and encouraged when it enables organizations to leverage resources and expertise. A grantee signs the grant agreement and serves as the primary contact for the project. Only the grantee can benefit from the grant funds. A grantee may subcontract services that it has agreed to provide under the grant agreement, so long as those services are conducted on behalf of the grantee. Subcontract arrangements must be clearly described in the scope of work and budget.

Accepting grant funds with the intent of distributing those funds to other nonprofit organizations (for example, sub-grants or fiscal sponsorship) is not allowed.

A grantee must meet both eligibility criteria:

  1. The organization is exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  2. No part of the net earnings of the organization shall inure to the benefit of a private shareholder or individual.

Can the CalMoneySmart grant be used to help local small businesses?

CalMoneySmart funding is only available for eligible nonprofit organizations (see above – who can apply for a CalMoneySmart funding?).  The primary use of funding is to assist unbanked and underbanked individuals. If a proposed project targets small businesses, it must demonstrate how it impacts individuals experiencing financial insecurity.

Certificates of Status: Where can I request these documents and how recent must the certificates be?

Certificates of Status must be current and in compliance with all applicable laws. They should be dated within 90 days of the application submission. Here is a link to the form you may use to request this documentation:  https://bizfileonline.sos.ca.gov/.

If your organization originates/only operates in California, you are only required to submit one Certificate. National nonprofits that have local chapters will need to submit two Certificates of Status – one for California and the other from the state of their headquarters.

Should I submit the CalMoneySmart application, supporting documents, grant proposal, representations, agreements and covenants all together at the same time?

During the open grant period, you have the ability to save your work and resume at a later time. Be sure, however, that all sections are completed and required documents are uploaded before signing and submitting the application.

When will CalMoneySmart grants be awarded?

Awards are expected to be announced in August 2023, with the projected distribution of funds between August – September 2023.

How often are CalMoneySmart grants awarded?

CalMoneySmart offers a new round of grants each fiscal year, starting July 1. The program is funded until 2030.

How many CalMoneySmart grants will be awarded? What is expected to be the average grant size?

Up to $2 million dollars is available each fiscal year until 2030 and the maximum award is $200,000. The number of grants will depend on the amount of funding awarded per grant. In the 2022-23 fiscal year, 12 grants were awarded with an average grant size of $166,700.

Can I submit a CalMoneySmart application each year to continue my proposed program?

Yes. Eligible organizations can submit a new application each year.  If you were not awarded in previous years, we encourage you to re-apply.

Is there a plan for equal geographic distributions for the CalMoneySmart grants? (i.e. grants for Northern CA, for Southern CA)?

The DFPI plans to distribute grants to organizations throughout the state, with an emphasis on an equitable distribution to populations experiencing financial insecurity. 

Does each grantee have to report how grant monies are used?

Yes. Grantees must submit to the DFPI a report documenting:

  • The specific uses to which grant funds were allocated,
  • The number of individuals aided through use of the funds,
  • Quantitative results from grant funding,
  • Any other requested information.

The report must be submitted in a form and by a date acceptable by the Commissioner of the DFPI.

Where do I submit my CalMoneySmart application?

The 2023-2024 CalMoneySmart grant application period is open from April 24 through May 26, 2023.

Return to the CalMoneySmart home page at https://dfpi.ca.gov/calmoneysmart/ and click the ‘Apply Here’ icon which will bring you to the login page of the DFPI grant portal. You can also access this link directly at dfpi.grantplatform.com.

If I have more questions, who can I contact?

Please contact Grants@dfpi.ca.gov with additional questions.

Approved by Klee 4/20

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Last updated: Aug 24, 2023 @ 4:35 pm