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The Inclusive Economy

CFED Selects Six Organizations for New Savings Innovation Learning Cluster

By Parker Cohen and Evelyn Stark, Guest Contributor on 03/03/2014 @ 09:45 AM

Tags: Financial Empowerment, Individual Development Accounts, Matched Savings

Late last year, CFED announced an exciting new venture in partnership with the MetLife Foundation, the Savings Innovation Learning Cluster (SILC). SILC will seek to foster the development and testing of innovative products and strategies that facilitate savings by low- and moderate-income (LMI) individuals and families. Through a learning cluster model, we will work with six organizations to develop, implement and evaluate their savings innovations and identify promising ideas that can then be further refined, replicated and brought to scale.

MetLife Foundation, like CFED, believes that affordable, accessible and well-designed financial services can transform the lives of those in need. The Foundation has committed $200 million over the next five years to advancing financial inclusion around the world, and this partnership is an important step forward in meeting that goal.

While many types of strategies have arisen over the past twenty years to facilitate savings among low- and moderate-income individuals and families, such as Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and Bank On initiatives, SILC will seek to learn from new innovations to these savings programs and from emerging savings ideas. The idea for SILC developed from the need to have a greater understanding of these savings innovations and their potential for replication and scale. While some of these savings innovations have garnered a fairly extensive reach, we know very little about the mechanics of how these strategies encourage savings (i.e., what aspects of the program facilitate saving and what might unintentionally create barriers to saving) as well as their relative effectiveness. The MetLife SILC project will shed much-needed light on these questions. The evaluations of the SILC innovations can be used to identify the most promising savings mobilization strategies and products that can be brought to scale.

In December 2013, we issued a request for proposals and received an overwhelming number of outstanding applications from organizations interested in joining SILC—114 in total! While difficult to whittle down, we ultimately, we selected six organizations to participate:

CFED’s Learning Cluster model is designed to create new connections and collaborations between organizations working to overcome similar challenges. For SILC, the selected organizations are implementing and evaluating savings innovations targeted at low- and moderate-income populations in various venues, including Individual Development Account (IDAs), energy assistance, consumer loan and employer-based savings programs. SILC members will work with their peers to share expertise, diagnose and solve problems and learn from each other’s experiences to implement and refine their savings innovations.

In addition to this peer learning, SILC members will receive targeted technical assistance from CFED to design and test their savings innovations. CFED will keep you updated on the Learning Cluster’s progress as its members work their way through these new endeavors, with a keen eye on how their learning can help to inform your own organizations’ approaches to helping low- and moderate-income families save. The MetLife SILC project will kick off with an in-person convening in late March, so stay tuned for updates!

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