Source: The White House
Last Thursday, The White House hosted the first ever Summit on Financial Capability and Empowerment. Did you hear all about it? Probably not – it somehow slipped the evening news.
So, what was this White House Summit on Financial Capability and Empowerment about? In short, it was the opportunity for the Obama administration to state their commitments to promote financial empowerment across the US to community and business leaders from across the country. Top Administration officials that participated in the Summit included:
- Rich Cordray (Director of the CFPB) who recommended returning to seamlessly integrated financial education into existing curricula and the responsibility of government in building an effective citizenship that understands financial decision;
- John Rogers (Chairman of the President’s Advisory Council for Financial Capability) who shared his dream of having high school graduates ready to fully participate in US democracy and called for the financial education field to be more effective and streamlined;
- Gene Sperling (Director of the National Economic Council) who said that a national economic imperative is to build financial literacy and clear financial information in addition to financial corporate reform if the national is serious about preventing another economic meltdown;
- Tom Kalil (Deputy Director for Policy, OSTP) who highlighted the role of technology such as software and games to reduce cost in implementing financial education programs; and
- Ceilia Muñoz (Director of the Domestic Policy Council) who beautifully articulated that, “The resilience and ingenuity of our people are driving our economic recovery, and as we lay the foundation for an America built to last, we must also promote the ability of all Americans to make financial decisions that help them gain a footing into the middle class, kinder their entrepreneurial spirit, and sustain our long-term economic stability.”
With such star power -- including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (video here) and Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford (here) -- coming out in the name of financial capability and empowerment, it’d be easy to think that there’s nothing behind this effort other than lip service. However, a few tangible action items came out of the summit:
- The CFPB has started and will continue to be a major part of sustaining the push to build financial capability and empowerment in the US. Rich Cordray talked about the work they have started doing in his opening speech and Gail Hillebrand, the Associate Director of Consumer Education and Engagement, followed up a blog post on the White House Blog.
- The White House launched a Financial Capability Tookit for schools (K-12 and higher ed), community leaders, and employers who are interested in starting up initiatives for their communities of interest. A recommendation of the toolkit is to leverage partnerships as demonstrated by local initiatives in San Francisco, Delaware, and the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in a panel with community leaders, José Cisneros, Mary DuPont, and Tanya Fiddler.
- The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability launched Money as You Grow, an online interactive tool that is a resource guide for families to teach essential money lesson throughout a person’s life.
It’s pretty awesome to see some real traction and increased attention on strengthening the financial stability of individual households as a matter of national importance. Hopefully, some of this initial messaging will start to gain real traction so that efforts to strengthening Americans’ financial capability and creating an economically empowered populace will start making the evening news. As I mentioned before in a previous blog post, the work is just getting started and the challenge now is to sustain the momentum.