Thought Leadership Thursday
Financial Wellness Programs for the State and Local Workforce
Thought Leadership Thursday Article
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our society, we’d like to thank all of the government workers who are on the front lines – working around the clock to keep our cities and towns running, and our communities healthy, safe, and well-informed.
The pandemic has clearly heightened awareness around the financial hardships that so many people were already facing in the U.S. – including a lack of emergency savings, abundance of debt, inadequate social safety nets, and broad disparities that exist in every aspect of our society. At the same time, the crisis has brought opportunities for state and local governments, philanthropists, financial services and other industries to collaborate and reimagine solutions that can help improve financial stability of families and get them on the right track to living a financially healthy life.
One of the most crucial roles of municipal employees has been to provide financial recovery resources and relief to the millions of people and small businesses who have lost income and are facing immediate and evolving concerns about their financial security. But unfortunately, many of these same public employees are facing their own financial challenges, with 56% reporting in a recent national poll conducted by the SLGE and ICMA-RC that their family has already been negatively impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we consider the harsh realities of our current environment, it’s clearer than ever before that government employees and their families need greater access to financial wellness tools and resources that will help them navigate financial challenges now or in the future, reduce debt, save for retirement, or reach other financial goals. Yet another past SLGE research study reported that about a quarter of local governments offer financial education programs, while 68% of public employees would participate in a program if one was offered.
To help bridge this gap of want and need for financial wellness programming, the Wells Fargo Foundation is pleased to be funding the first-of-its-kind collaboration with the NAST Foundation, SLGE, and IPMA-HR on an initiative to strengthen financial wellness programs for the state and local workforce.
Thought this 18-month initiative, 26 government entities will share $1.4 million in grants to seed the establishment or expansion of financial wellness programs for their employees. Grant requirements and the online application form is available here. Proposals are due July 15.
We are grateful for NAST’s leadership in advancing financial health by providing educational opportunities to NAST members, enabling the sharing of best practices, and driving creative solutions to common challenges. NAST’s collaborative, non-partisan culture is unique, delivering opportunities for state entities to not only learn from one another but to also work together to optimize resources for the greatest impact. We’re excited about the possibilities afforded by the financial wellness grant program and urge you to engage in the effort. Whether you’re on the field or in the stands cheering on the grant-winning programs, there will be much to learn and much to gain.
Darlene Goins, Head of Financial Health Philanthropy