Piles of coins


CalMoneySmart is a grant program created by Senate Bill 455 (Ch. 478, Stats. 2019), which established the Financial Empowerment Fund. Through this program, the Department of Business Oversight (DBO) offers grants of up to $100,000 each to develop and deliver free financial education and empowerment programs to help unbanked and underbanked communities.

Please note that the Governor’s May 14, 2020 revised budget for fiscal year 2020 – 2021 includes funds appropriated to the CalMoneySmart program. However, if these funds are removed from the final budget for fiscal year 2020 – 2021, this program will not begin and no grants will be awarded.

Estimated Timeline

The first round of funding for CalMoneySmart will be released on July 1, 2020.

Grant applications will be available on May 19, 2020. The DBO will begin accepting applications for the 2020 – 21 fiscal year immediately. All required information and supporting documentation must be submitted to the DBO by 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on July 3, 2020.

Incomplete applications, or applications submitted after the deadline will NOT be reviewed or considered for a grant. Complete applications will be reviewed for eligibility and analyzed by a committee. The DBO will notify all applicants in writing of its decision on or about August 21, 2020. The Commissioner’s decisions regarding grant amounts and approved administrative costs are final and not subject to appeal. Grant funds will be disbursed in full to grantees on or about September 21, 2020.

Please note that all provided dates are good faith targets that the Department will strive to and expects to meet. Any necessary revisions to the schedule will be posted here as soon as possible.

Grant Uses

Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 455 (Bradford, Financial Empowerment Fund) on Oct. 2, 2019. This bill requires the DBO to administer a program (CalMoneySmart) to offer qualifying nonprofit organizations grants of up to $100,000. The grants may be used to:

  • Design, develop, or offer free classroom- or web-based financial education and empowerment content intended to help unbanked and underbanked consumers achieve, identify, and access lower-cost financial products and services, establish or improve their credit, increase their savings, or lower their debt.
  • Provide individualized, free financial coaching to unbanked and underbanked consumers.
  • Design, develop, or offer a free financial product or service intended to help unbanked and underbanked consumers identify and access responsible financial products and financial services, establish or improve their credit, increase their savings, or lower their debt.

Additionally, every project funded with a CalMoneySmart grant must:

  • Promote and enhance the economic security of consumers.
  • Adhere to the five principles of effective financial education described in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 2017 report Effective financial education: Five principles and how to use them:
    1. Know the individuals and families to be served
    2. Provide actionable, relevant and timely information
    3. Improve key financial skills
    4. Build on motivation and,
    5. Make it easy to make good decisions and follow through.
  • Include one or more specific outcome targets.
  • Include an evaluation component designed to measure and document the extent to which the project achieves its intended outcomes and increases consumers’ financial well-being.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a CalMoneySmart grant, an organization must:

  1. Be a nonprofit organization – exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and organized and operated exclusively for one or more of the purposes described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  2. Have no part of their net earnings inure to the benefit of a private shareholder or individual.

Other Grant Requirements

  • No more than 15 percent of the grant can be used to cover administrative costs, which may include, but are not limited to, costs of workforce overhead, human resources, accounting, finance, business and facility operations, and information technology. 
  • Grantees must submit to the DBO an annual report documenting:
    1. The specific uses to which grant funds were allocated,
    2. The number of individuals aided through use of the funds,
    3. Quantitative results from grant funding, and
    4. Any other information requested by the Commissioner of Business Oversight.
  • Applicants selected for a grant must submit to the DBO a completed, signed CalMoneySmart Agreement within five business days of the award notification.

  • Applicants selected for a grant must submit to the Department a completed, signed Form STD. 204, “Payee Data Record,” within five business days of the award notification.

Getting Started

Approved by Kue Lee 1/2020

Last updated: Jul 20, 2020 @ 4:37 pm