CalMoneySmart is a grant program created by Senate Bill 455 (Ch. 478, Stats. 2019), which established the Financial Empowerment Fund. Through this program, the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) offers grants of up to $200,000 each to develop and deliver free financial education and empowerment programs to help unbanked and underbanked communities. The DFPI can award up to $2 million per year until the program sunsets in 2030.
The 2022-23 CalMoneySmart grants awards were announced on August 9, 2022. See the press release for a list of grantees.
The 2023-24 program will be launched in early 2023.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 455 (Bradford, Financial Empowerment Fund) on Oct. 2, 2019. This bill requires the DFPI to administer a program (CalMoneySmart) to offer qualifying nonprofit organizations grants of up to $200,000. The grants may be used to:
- 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.
Additionally, every project funded with a CalMoneySmart grant must:
- Promote and enhance the economic security of consumers.
- Adhere to the five principles of effective financial education described in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 2017 report Effective financial education: Five principles and how to use them:
- Know the individuals and families to be served
- Provide actionable, relevant and timely information
- Improve key financial skills
- Build on motivation and,
- Make it easy to make good decisions and follow through.
- Include one or more specific outcome targets.
- Include an evaluation component designed to measure and document the extent to which the project achieves its intended outcomes and increases consumers’ financial well-being.
To be eligible for a CalMoneySmart grant, an organization must:
- Be a nonprofit organization – 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.
- Have no part of their net earnings inure to the benefit of a private shareholder or individual.
Other Grant Requirements
- No more than 15 percent of the grant can be used to cover administrative costs, which may include, but are not limited to, costs of workforce overhead, human resources, accounting, finance, business and facility operations, and information technology.
- Grantees must submit to the DFPI an annual 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, and
- Any other information requested by the Commissioner of the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.
Applicants selected for a grant must submit to the DFPI a completed, signed CalMoneySmart Agreement within five business days of the award notification.
Applicants selected for a grant must submit to the Department a completed, signed Form STD. 204, “Payee Data Record,” within five business days of the award notification.
How to Apply
Applications are now closed. You can subscribe to grant updates for the 2023-24 program using the CalMoneySmart Newsletter signup form above.
California Grants Portal
Announcements and Additional Resources
- CalMoneySmart 2022-23 Award Announcement
- CalMoneySmart 2020-21 Annual Report
- CalMoneySmart 2021-22 Award Announcement
- Assembly Bill 137
- Senate Bill No. 455, Bradford. Financial Empowerment Fund: unbanked and underbanked populations.
- DFPI CalMoneySmart Press Release
- CalMoneySmart 2020-21 Award Announcement
- CalMoneySmart Webinar and resources
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) 2019 National Survey “How America Banks: Household Use of Banking and Financial Services” (PDF)
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) 2017 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households (PDF)
For more information and to receive announcements about the CalMoneySmart program, please email CalMoneySmart@dfpi.ca.gov.