Filene secures another $1.6M from Ford, Visa for incubator program

March 31, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (3/31/16)--More than $1.6 million in additional grants from the Ford Foundation and Visa will ensure that the Filene Research Institute’s Incubator continues to develop solutions that serve financially fragile populations.

“Credit unions can play a more active role in improving the financial lives of their members and the 50 million underbanked consumers in America,” said Andrew Downin, who heads up the Filene Incubator, which also tests its new products for scalability. “We’re testing products that not only have the potential for life-changing personal impact but that can also provide long-term sustainability for financial institutions.”

Filene’s Incubator was created three years ago with an initial grant from the Ford Foundation. As part of the Ford Foundation’s ongoing commitment to Filene, it has granted additional funds to build a formalized infrastructure for the incubator and expand initiatives to reach new populations.

The current incubator initiative, Reaching Minority Households, is funded in large part with a grant from Visa, which has also played an advisory role. Visa has helped guide research, consult on product selection and encouraged credit unions and community banks to participate in the program.

Investments in Filene’s Reaching Minority Households Incubator support new research to better understand access gaps, identify existing solutions experiencing local success, and drive widespread and sustainable impact by conducting in-market testing of five promising programs across a broader group of credit unions and community banks from the United States and Canada.

Filene is recruiting financial institutions to participate in in-market testing. Credit unions and community banks are encouraged to visit  and register to attend an upcoming webinar to learn more about the five programs in the Reaching Minority Households Incubator: Data Mined Auto Loans, the JOB Program, Non-Citizen Lending, Payday Payoff Installment Loans and QCash.