Making an App to Manage Your $$$

‘Hackathon’ For Financial Empowerment

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz invited developers to create digital tools to help New Yorkers achieve their financial goals at DCA’s first hackathon, a collaborative technology design event.

The weekend event begins on Mar. 2 at the DUMBO Loft in Brooklyn. The team or individual who creates the winning app will receive $1,000 and two second place winners will receive $500 each. Interested firms, as well as individual developers and designers, are invited to learn more and sign up to participate at nyc.gov/OFEHackathon.

The Financial Empowerment Hackathon is generously supported by Capital One and the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund. Judges for the event include representatives from Capital One, Google.org, ideas42, LearnVest and DCA. Space is limited to 150 participants and registration closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 1.

“Today most of us rely on our cell phones to communicate and manage our daily lives so it makes sense to reach out to the city’s trailblazing technology community to pioneer a digital tool that can help clients of the Financial Empowerment Centers, and all New Yorkers, better manage their money,” said Mintz.

“The technology sector continues to help City government serve New Yorkers through the creation of digital tools, and hackathons have emerged as especially effective in developing new solutions to shared challenges,” said Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot. “Our latest initiative, the Financial Empowerment Hackathon, will bring the local tech community together to help New Yorkers manage their money. We look forward to the innovations produced and how they will support the people of New York.”

During the hackathon weekend, participants will work in teams and individually to develop working prototypes that the DCA will use to help New Yorkers manage their money and support the work of the Financial Empowerment Centers, which provide free, confidential one-on-one professional financial counseling to New Yorkers with low or moderate incomes.

The DCA welcomes creative approaches to how the app can financially empower New Yorkers, including tracking spending, budgeting, locating a Financial Empowerment Center, staying in touch with their counselor, keeping track of appointments and necessary financial documents, signing up for text message reminders, and connecting with other clients.

The DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) was launched by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at the end of 2006 as the first local government initiative in the country with the specific mission to educate, empower, and protect individuals and families with low incomes. A hallmark program of OFE is the City’s Financial Empowerment Centers, which offer free, one-on-one professional financial counseling.

Since the pilot opened in 2008, the program has grown to nearly 30 centers and the financial counselors have helped more than 20,000 New Yorkers reduce their debt by almost $10 million. The financial counselors help New Yorkers deal with debt collectors, understand their credit reports, create budgets, improve their credit scores, open bank accounts, and start saving for emergencies and for the future.

The Financial Empowerment Center initiative is also being replicated in five cities (Denver, Lansing, Mich., Nashville, Philadelphia and San Antonio) through a $16.2 million, three-year pilot funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies through the CFE Fund. The app will be available to clients in these new cities as well.

For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at nyc.gov/consumers, or follow the DCA on Twitter at @NYCDCA and use the hashtag #moneyhack to talk about the hackathon.

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