On December 13th, the Texas Finance Commission announced eight grantees for the Texas Financial Education Endowment (TFEE)’s inaugural round of grants totaling $250,000.  TFEE, the first state-administered funding source for broad financial education and asset building services, was created by the 82nd Legislature as part of legislation (HB 2594) that made some basic reforms to payday and auto title lending. Beginning in 2012, each state-licensed payday and auto title lender, also known as a credit access business, is required to pay an annual assessment to the Endowment to support improved consumer credit, financial education and asset-building opportunities across the state.  Each year, TFEE collects nearly $700,000 in licensing fees to support the Endowment from credit access businesses.
Schools, governmental agencies, and for-profit and not-for-profit organizations that promote, provide, or support financial education or financial literacy initiatives are eligible for grant awards through a competitive application and review process.  Currently, the Endowment plans to award grants bi-annually, with the next round of grants to be awarded in 2015. TFEE’s guidelines are available on its website.
For the first grant cycle, the Endowment prioritized programs that promote youth financial capability as well as adult financial capability and coaching.  The Finance Commission received 33 applications with grant requests totaling over $1.1 million.  TFEE’s eight grantees were selected from a pool of 27 organizations (six applications were deemed ineligible).  Three TFEE grantee programs support youth financial capability, four provide adult financial coaching, counseling and education and one offers a small dollar loan conversion program. Three of the funded programs have a statewide service area while five have a local or regional service area.
TFEE Grant Awards and Program Summary:

  • Texas Council on Economic Education ($35,000) will provide teacher training to Texas’ K-12 math, economics and career teachers on Texas’ new K-12 financial literacy standards being implemented for the 2014-15 academic year.
  • Independent Bankers Association of Texas Education Foundation ($30,000) will expand its Teach the Teacher Program, a workshop that teaches Texas middle and high school teachers instructional methods to teach financial management skills, including Texas’ financial literacy standards, to their students.
  • Financial Mentors of America ($35,000) will evaluate and expand its Game of Real Life curriculum to Texas middle and high school students. Financial Mentors of America plans to align its Game of Real Life curriculum with the new curriculum standards to be developed for the new high school PFL courses created through HB 2662 (elective course) and HB 5 (career course).
  • Foundation Communities ($35,000) will expand its financial coaching program to serve more Austin residents.
  • United Way Tarrant County ($30,000) will expand its financial coaching and education programs to serve more Tarrant county residents.
  • Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation ($30,000) will provide five homebuyer, financial education and counseling courses to 140 counselors representing at least 60 Texas organizations.
  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul ($30,000) will launch a Loan Conversion Program in Central Texas for their existing clients who currently hold payday loans.
  • Goodwill Central East Texas ($25,000) will expand its incentivized savings and financial coaching programs to low-income adults with disabilities and other barriers to self-sufficiency in the Lufkin area.

OpportunityTexas looks forward to following and highlighting the work of these grantees in their collective mission of increasing financial capability for more Texans.   As the Endowment disbursements continue their natural increase and with more state-regulated financial entities contributing to the Endowment through licensing fees, TFEE could play a more significant role in improving credit scores, increasing college savings account holding, and enhancing K-12 financial education across the state.

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