Today, the City of Philadelphia, along with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), announced they have been selected to participate in the CityStart initiative with a specific focus on racial wealth equity. The CityStart initiative works closely with local leaders to develop and implement proven strategies aimed at helping families and communities become financially stable. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative – whose mission is to accelerate the pace of wealth accumulation for Black individuals and families and address systemic underinvestment in Black communities in the U.S. – is advising the CFE Fund and municipal partners on the design and execution of the CityStart program utilizing a racial wealth equity lens.

Mayor Cherelle L. Parker envisions a future of economic opportunity for all Philadelphians. As part of the administration’s plan, Mayor Parker has committed to bridging economic disparities by investing in workforce development, creating alternative pathways to careers, and ensuring that “big bet” initiatives benefit local workers. The mayor has emphasized the need to create quality jobs with family-sustaining wages, benefits, and a path to economic mobility.

“The City must foster an inclusive, thriving economy that helps put people across all backgrounds on a path to self-sufficiency,” said Mayor Parker. “The CFE Fund’s CityStart program, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies Greenwood Initiative, will help us streamline our financial empowerment work based on input from those most impacted by racial disparities. This program will support the City in creating an actionable financial empowerment blueprint for ensuring all Philadelphians can thrive.”

“Across the country, leaders are using the levers of local government to deploy financial empowerment strategies that improve their residents’ financial stability. Our CityStart initiative facilitates deep engagement between local governments, residents, and other stakeholders to create a community-informed plan for transforming residents’ financial lives and advancing racial wealth equity,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “We look forward to working with Mayor Parker to advance financial empowerment and racial wealth equity in Philadelphia, and we thank Bloomberg Philanthropies for their longstanding partnership and investment in government-led financial empowerment.”

Through the CityStart initiative, Philadelphia will receive an intensive technical assistance engagement partnership, along with a $75,000 planning grant. The CFE Fund, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, will partner with the city to help craft an innovative, actionable blueprint tailored to the community that fosters generational financial stability, especially for Black residents. Additionally, the blueprints will be aligned with the local Administration’s priorities and partnership opportunities.

In addition to Philadelphia, other selected cities chosen through the competitive process include Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; Indianapolis, IN; and Little Rock, AR.

Local leaders will also have an opportunity for shared learning through the cohort structure, which includes idea exchanges, data collection, and obtaining information regarding local policies, programs, and strategies to address mutual challenges.

“Racial wealth inequity negatively impacts our global economy and narrows the opportunities for communities across the U.S. to thrive,” said Garnesha Ezediaro, who leads Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative. “Through our partnership with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s CityStart initiative, we’re equipping local leaders with tools and data to surface the needs within their local economies and create plans to help Black residents flourish financially and build intergenerational wealth.”

Cities from previous CityStart cohorts have already started to introduce innovative policy changes that leverage public and private partnerships while prioritizing Black wealth accumulation. For example, Cincinnati, OH leveraged the CityStart engagement to create its Financial Freedom Plan –  informed by more than 1,000 residents and dozens of organizations and experts across the private, public, and social sectors. The city dedicated $2 million in public funds to forgive resident medical debt and advance other priorities. In South Bend, IN, the city developed a comprehensive financial empowerment framework that includes offering free professional financial counseling and a wealth-building focus in two historically Black neighborhoods.

Philadelphia is part of the sixth CityStart cohort, and the third cohort specifically focused on racial wealth equity. To date, 40 localities have participated in the CityStart financial empowerment blueprint process. Drawing on over a decade of CFE Fund work in over 100 cities and counties, the CityStart initiative leverages insights into financial instability impact, crafting measurable strategies to enhance residents’ financial well-being.

About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)
The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting-edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders in over 100 cities and counties to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources – including 40 local governments that have already participated in the CityStart engagement. The CFE Fund has disbursed over $66 million in grant support to municipal partners. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.