We are investing in our shared future.

At the Office of Financial Empowerment, we measure our city’s prosperity across generations.  

Pregnant woman with young child

Decades of deliberately harmful choices, from redlining to the path of I-94, have stripped wealth and opportunity from our Black, Indigenous, immigrant and refugee communities. Today, OFE is working deliberately to help a new generation of Saint Paul residents repair those generational injustices and build equitable economic power for decades to come.  

Saint Paul welcomes every new baby to our city with $50 for college — a small but powerful investment in each child’s boundless potential — through the CollgeBound program. Saint Paul also gives families in the People’s Prosperity guaranteed income pilot $500 every month, no strings attached, because we believe in their future and their children’s.  

Every dollar we invest in Saint Paul residents is an act of faith in the just and abundant future we are all creating together. 

Find more information about OFE’s programs, team members, and more below.

Child Tax Credit Information

This year, as part of the American Rescue Plan, the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) is significantly increased and half of it will be available through direct monthly payments.

Learn more about the Federal Child Tax Credit

OFE Programs


CollegeBound Saint Paul

CollegeBound Saint Paul Logo

CollegeBound Saint Paul provides every baby living in the city of Saint Paul starting on January 1, 2020 a college savings account opened with $50. 

Contact: collegebound@ci.stpaul.mn.us or 651-266-8829. 

Visit collegeboundstp.com


People's Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot

People's Prosperity Pilot Logo

The People’s Prosperity Pilot launched in fall 2020 and provides 150 randomly selected CollegeBound Saint Paul families with a $500 unrestricted monthly cash transfers for 18 months, and the CollegeBound child will receive an additional $10 per month in their college savings account. This initiative is part of a larger national network called Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. 

Contact: Prosperity@ci.stpaul.mn.us or 651-266-8680. 

Learn more about the Pilot


Fair Housing

Fair Housing goals include increasing housing access; decreasing housing displacement; and affirmatively furthering fair housing. 


Returning Home Saint Paul: A Beyond Backgrounds Program

Returning Home Saint Paul increases housing access for residents returning to Saint Paul from incarceration. This is a partnership with Housing Link and Ujamaa Place. The program launched in November 2020. 

Learn more about Returning Home Saint Paul

Concerned resident on the phone
Concerned resident on the phone

Fraudulent Immigration Services Campaign

In partnership with the Immigrant and Refugee Program in the City Attorney’s Office, OFE is launching the Fraudulent Immigration Services Campaign, which will provide Saint Paul community members with information on immigration scams. This awareness campaign is financially supported by the Local Consumer Financial Protection Initiative at the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund.

Learn More

OFE News and Research

City of Saint Paul Skyline

Route Fifty: Why One City is Prioritizing Financial Empowerment

St. Paul, Minnesota created a city office that aims to lift up residents who are struggling the most, while also addressing the ways city penalties might be keeping them down.

Read article on route-fifty.com
Green Line train in Saint Paul near Capitol building at night

Next City: St. Paul’s Poverty Fighting Office Going Strong During Covid-19

Despite the COVID-19 induced financial crisis, which has led to Carter’s proposed 2021 budget calling for vast cuts across almost all departments, the Office of Financial Empowerment will continue on, thanks to its efficacy at bringing in outside funding.

Read article on nextcity.org
Mayor Carter

Star Tribune: St. Paul guaranteed income helps families of color

Muneer Karcher-Ramos, St. Paul director of the Office of Financial Empowerment, shared the overview of the People’s Prosperity Pilot on Tuesday. He emphasized that the goal is not to make this a permanent city aid program, but to see if the idea can help shape the national debate about assisting low-income residents.

Read article on startribune.com
Mayor Michael Tubbs

Time: MLK Had a Dream of Guaranteed Income. As Mayors of 11 Cities, We Are Bringing That Dream to Life

King’s economic dream was the most direct – a guaranteed income for all Americans. This week, more than 50 years later and against a similar backdrop of racial and economic unrest, we mayors are bringing that dream to life.

Read on Time.com
City staff distribute meals to residents at Arlington Hills Community Center

NLC: How the City of Saint Paul is using strategic partnerships to fight hunger in a pandemic

AS cities across the country worked quickly to respond to their residents’ needs, the City of Saint Paul and Mayor Melvin Carter realized that food insecurity needed to be a priority.

Read article on NLC.org
Mayor Carter

Star Tribune: St. Paul's guaranteed income pilot a 'life raft' for families

In November 2020, Mayor Melvin Carter launched the St. Paul pilot, which is giving 150 families $500 a month for 18 months. Since then, dozens of cities have rolled out similar programs in hopes of making the case for a federal guaranteed income policy.

Read on StarTribune.com
Building services manger Jonathan Pedro, a single parent who is getting $500 monthly payments

Reuters: U.S. cities try new way to help the poor: give them money

Spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, dozens of U.S. cities are deploying a new tool in their war on poverty: cash.

Read more on Reuters.com
Malissa and her fiance, Jason with their child

Business Insider: Meet a couple living on disability and $500 per month from a guaranteed-income program

Malissa and her fiance, Jason, take on part-time jobs whenever they can. But between their disabilities and hesitance about workplace exposure to COVID-19, they've been homebound with their two children for most of the past two years. The possibilities opened up for their family when Malissa was chosen for a guaranteed-income pilot program in her hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Read more on Business Insider.com
Mayor Melvin Carter

Star Tribune Editorial Board: Success stories with guaranteed income

St. Paul pilot program shows families use the funds for necessities and financial stability.  

Read on StarTribune.com
Mayor Carter and Councilmember Jalali at a press conference

MPR: What we can learn from basic income pilot programs

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul recently launched guaranteed income pilot programs that provide monthly payments to low-income families. Programs like these are gaining traction around the nation. MPR News host Angela Davis talks with two experts about basic income programs and what they hope to learn from pilot programs like the ones in the Twin Cities.

Read more on MPRNEWS.org
Woman and child washing dishes

PRISM: Guaranteed basic income recipients in St. Paul describe how the program changed their lives

In 2020, St. Paul, Minnesota, launched a guaranteed basic income pilot project, providing $500 to 150 families for up to 18 months. As part of this first experiment, all participating families are enrolled in CollegeBound St. Paul, a citywide savings account initiative. The program, which went into effect in fall 2020 and is starting to come to a close, has become the latest example of how providing people with a guaranteed income can give communities a boost and impact their work and personal lives. 

Read more on prismreports.org
Hand holding penalty charge notice

Next City: U.S. Cities Scrap “Problem” Fines That Hit Low-Income People Hardest

From San Francisco to the Midwest to New York, the pandemic has triggered a policy rethink about the fairness of fines and fees for prison phone calls, overdue library books and parking violations.

Read more on nextcity.org

Financial Empowerment Community Council

The Financial Empowerment Community Council (FECC) is a 17-member advisory board appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council to review and advise on OFE activities, initiatives, partnerships and opportunities.

Learn more about the FECC

Meet the OFE Team


Muneer Karcher-Ramos Headshot

Muneer Karcher-Ramos, Director

“The racial wealth gap is not a thing that was created overnight. It’s a set of historical processes that will take time to reimagine and reconfigure and disrupt, so more folks can experience the economic and social benefits of the city."

Muneer Karcher-Ramos (he/him/él) is the inaugural Director of the Office of Financial Empowerment at the City of Saint Paul. He specializes in community- and culturally-valued approaches to working with communities who have historically experienced structural, systemic, and public disinvestment, which has often rendered these communities invisible. Prior to his current role, he was the director of the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, a cross-sector cradle-to-career education initiative focused on culturally-responsive approaches. He is currently a community faculty member in the Social Justice Minor at the University of Minnesota and a Fellow at the Cultural Wellness Center. 

He lives in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul with his partner and their three children.


Kasey Wiedrich Headshot

Kasey Wiedrich, Financial Capability Manager

“Some of the things the City has been doing are really different relationships with residents than the City has played in the past outside of just taxes and fees. We have put money back into people’s pockets directly.”

Kasey Wiedrich (she/her) is the Financial Capability Manager with the City of Saint Paul’s Office of Financial Empowerment. In her role, she works to integrate wrap around services into the City’s children’s savings account program, CollegeBound Saint Paul. Prior to joining OFE in 2020, Kasey was the Director of Applied Research at Prosperity Now in Washington, DC, where she managed the Prosperity Now Scorecard—a state-by-state assessment of how families are faring and the strength of state policies—and conducted research on household financial security and effective practices to build financial capability and wealth. 


Ikram Koliso Headshot

Ikram Koliso, CollegeBound Program Manager

“With CollegeBound, we’re connecting people to early childhood and financial wellbeing services in Saint Paul, which is helping build their child’s wellbeing. Being able to bring different institutions together that don’t normally talk to one another in the same room is really helpful.”

Ikram Koliso (she/her) helped with the design, implementation and launch of CollegeBound Saint Paul, the City’s college savings account program, and currently serves as the program manager. She previously served as a Policy Associate in Mayor Melvin Carter’s Office, as an Urban Scholar in the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet in the Office of former Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith, as well as has completed field work at Hennepin County and Allina Health – United Hospital. Ikram is passionate about the process of engaging communities around issues that impact them directly to ensure their voices are centered in the policies and programs designed. She received her degree from St. Catherine University in Saint Paul.


Jack Smyth Headshot

Jack Smyth, People’s Prosperity Pilot Program Consultant

“We realize that the government can’t predict what happens in a family’s life. We’re hoping that in the future, both in Saint Paul and across the country, that the idea of giving a guaranteed income to families directly – and trusting in them – allows them the flexibility to make the best decisions for them.”

Jack Smyth (he/him) joined the City of Saint Paul’s Office of Financial Empowerment in August 2019 as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member. During his VISTA year of service, he helped design, develop, and implement the Neighbors Helping Neighbors volunteer initiative. Jack transitioned to his current role as People’s Prosperity Pilot Program Consultant in September 2020 to help develop the City’s guaranteed income pilot. This included helping to recruit and enroll the 150 families into the pilot. He continues to help maintain the pilot and provides ongoing support to pilot participants. 


Kim Hover Headshot

Kim Hover, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator

Kim Hover (they/them) is the current Outreach and Engagement Coordinator with CollegeBound St Paul. Prior to joining OFE, Kim worked at Prepare + Prosper as their Financial Inclusion Manager, overseeing the FAIR initiative which aims to provide low barrier banking to those who have traditionally been shut out of mainstream financial services. Previously, they spent years working in various direct service and advocacy roles.

 

Common Financial Empowerment Terms

Last Edited: August 3, 2022