Financial Solutions Lab Exchange 2021 Grant Program

The 2021 Financial Solutions Lab Exchange Challenge: Improving the Financial Health of Justice-involved Individuals, together with advisory partner Credit Builders Alliance, is looking for emerging or existing partnerships between nonprofits and fintechs interested in piloting or prototyping new solutions, product designs, or program enhancements that will allow them to better serve justice-involved individuals and their families.

The Exchange is founded on the belief that the complementary strengths of fintechs and nonprofit organizations can be combined to create powerful solutions that address the financial health challenges of struggling households. 

For more information on the kinds of partnerships we fund, please read our recent report, Cross-Sector Solutions: A Guide to Nonprofit-Fintech Partnerships, which describes the work of several of our previous grantees, and consult our blog post on our 2020 grantee cohort

Some examples of the types of projects grantees might propose include:
  • Fintech Distribution: A nonprofit integrates a fintech tool into its existing program to increase engagement and impact. 
  • Nonprofit Referral: A fintech integrates or refers customers to relevant nonprofit services.
  • Systems Enhancements: A nonprofit implements fintech systems or tools to enhance back-end systems or operational processes.
  • Insights and Design: A fintech engages a nonprofit to receive design input into new products and features.
Read the full Application Criteria for more information.

What do grantees receive? 
  • $50,000 per partnership (minimum of $26,000 must go to the nonprofit partner).
  • Technical assistance to help grantees execute projects.
  • A forum to actively engage with, and learn from, the nonprofit and fintech peers in your cohort.
Partner organizations should only submit one application. The Exchange team can help you identify a partner (see below). 

Grant eligibility
  • Project must be focused on addressing the financial health challenges of justice-involved individuals and/or their families.
  • Applications must have both partners identified and fully committed to work together during the grant period from October 2021 through June 2022. 
  • Organizations may submit applications with different partners (e.g. two applications, with two different partners).
  • Nonprofit Community Development Financial Institutions are eligible for grants.
  • Nonprofit organizations registered as 501(c)4 organizations will not be eligible. 
If you have questions or need help finding a partner, please don't hesitate to email us or sign up for office hours. We also invite you to register for our May 13th Fastpitch e

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* 1. Please list the names of each nonprofit and fintech partnering on this grant project (two partners required).

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* 2. Website URL for each project partner's organization/company

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* 3. Nonprofit partner: Primary contact person for your grant application

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* 6. Fintech partner: Primary contact person for your grant application

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* 9. Please give a brief overview of each of the project partners. What does each partner (nonprofit and fintech) do and who do you serve? We're particularly interested in understanding how each project partner currently serves justice-involved individuals and their families, if applicable.

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* 10. What financial health need have you identified among justice-involved individuals and/or their families? 

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* 11. How will your project help address the financial health need(s) identified (impact can be directly with end users or through a project targeting operational improvements)?

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* 12. Please describe your key objectives and timeline for the project.

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* 13. How does your project leverage the unique capabilities and strengths of both the nonprofit and fintech partners?

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* 14. How has COVID impacted your work? What, if any, adaptations have you made in programming/service delivery due to the pandemic?

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* 15. Describe the clients, customers, and/or communities your project will serve. 
  • How many people will this project reach directly? If the project isn't targeting end users, who will benefit from this project's downstream product/organization enhancements?
  • Please describe how your project and your organizations reach low-income and historically underrepresented individuals impacted by the criminal justice system. 
  • What are the demographics of clients/customers served?

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* 16. Through this grant, we seek to create a safe space for learning (regardless of whether a project is “successful”). What are you trying to learn through this project? 

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* 17.  Briefly describe what is new or innovative about your approach, either for your organization(s) or for the industry as a whole (whether in process, partnership, target market, learning — or even simply executing a best practice in a better way).

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* 18. Please describe how the project will track and evaluate impact on clients’ financial health and/or partners’ functional capabilities.

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* 19. If your project is successful, what are your potential paths to grow or evolve it? How do you foresee this project catalyzing other efforts in the criminal justice space?

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* 20. If selected as a grantee, would your partnership be interested in collaborating with the Financial Solutions Lab on research (e.g. a Randomized Control Trial) into program impact? 

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* 21. What, if any, experience do your organizations have with conducting research? (Note: Research collaboration is not required of grantees.)

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* 22. Please describe your partnership’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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* 23. The Exchange is interested in ensuring that we are supporting organizations that actively engage with, and/or are staffed by, led by, or governed by individuals impacted by the criminal justice system and their families. 
  • How, if at all, have your organizations engaged impacted communities in the past? 
  • Do your teams (nonprofit and fintech) include impacted individuals?

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* 24. How, if at all, do you plan to engage impacted communities in designing and executing this work (e.g. co-designing programming with impacted individuals, forming an advisory group group of impacted individuals, etc.)?

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* 25. OPTIONAL: Please upload any supporting documents that you feel would round out your grant application.

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