Washington, DC—In celebration of April as Financial Literacy Month, the Bowser Administration, through the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB), will offer several financial empowerment programs and events for District residents and small business owners.
Mayor Bowser’s vision for inclusive prosperity will be celebrated throughout April, offering Washingtonians opportunities to learn about the basics of making a budget, managing credit, buying a home, planning for retirement and building wealth.
“We care about the financial health and well-being of District residents and small business owners and want to help them not only address financial demands but to also prosper,” said DISB Commissioner Karima M. Woods.
DISB offers free financial empowerment programs to help District residents establish and maintain healthy financial habits:
- Financially Fit DC is an initiative designed to strengthen the financial stability of individuals, families and communities in the District. The program helps residents identify short-term needs, make a budget and set plans to reach long-term goals with online tools and curated workshops.
- The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a special tax break tailored for low- and moderate-income workers. To be eligible, individuals must have earned income or certain disability income. The Department supports the District’s EITC campaign through a contract with Capital Area Asset Builders. Free tax preparation services for the 2022 tax season are also available.
- The Bank on DC Program provides mainstream access to financial services, products and financial education to unbanked and under-banked households in the District. The program partners with banks and credit unions to offer bank accounts that have low minimum balance requirements and no or low-cost monthly fees.
- The Opportunity Accounts Program is a 4:1 matched savings program that allows qualified residents to save up to $1,500 with a match of $6,000, growing their Opportunity Account contribution up to $7,500. Funds can be used to help pay for a variety of savings goals, including education, first-time home purchases, small business development and retirement. The program will receive more than $1 million in additional funding each for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This nearly 60 percent increase in funding means that 170 low-income DC residents are being given a shot at prosperity.
- The Financial Navigators Program helps District residents who are facing critical financial struggles due to the pandemic. Navigators help individuals and families prioritize needs and access programs and services to manage income disruptions and other financial concerns. The program does not offer direct cash assistance.
- The Student Loan Ombudsman helps families and prospective students identify scholarship opportunities and minimize student loan debt. Also, the Ombudsman can show college graduates how to understand loan repayment options and identify debt relief programs and resolve complaints.
- The Foreclosure Prevention and Mediation Program provides resources to help District residents avoid foreclosure, including foreclosure mediation, housing counseling and legal aid for homeowners.
- DC BizCAP facilitates access to capital for District entrepreneurs and small businesses and helps create sustainable economic development. It provides alternatives to traditional commercial financing to facilitate private lending and investments in District small businesses. As part of ARPA, the District was allocated an additional $62 million to enhance the program.
- A library of Consumer Alerts and Guides is available with information to help consumers avoid being victims of fraud or unfair and fraudulent business practices. The alerts and guides also include helpful information on insurance, mortgages and investing.
The mission of the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking (DISB) is three-fold: (1) cultivate a regulatory environment that protects consumers and attracts and retains financial services firms to the District; (2) empower and educate residents on financial matters; and (3) provide financing for District small businesses.