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
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

Star Tribune: Twitter CEO boosts guaranteed income programs in St. Paul

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is donating $15 million to programs across the country, the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income group announced Tuesday. More than two dozen mayors are participating in the group, including Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter.

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

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.

Kirstin Burch Headshot

Kirstin Burch, Fair Housing Coordinator

“OFE has really leaned deeply into trying to address the unintended consequences of maintaining the status quo.”

Kirstin Burch (she/her) joined the City of Saint Paul in March 2019 as the Fair Housing Coordinator in the Office of Financial Empowerment. In her role, she works to affirmatively further fair housing with a focus on decreasing housing displacement and increasing housing access. Previously,  Kirstin served as the director of a local housing  nonprofit, ZOOM House, bringing experience in nonprofit leadership, culturally inclusive relationship building, and community engagement. Kirstin is passionate about holistic, community-driven solutions to housing and economic stability. Currently, she serves as a board member for Homeline Minnesota.

Kirstin is a native of Saint Paul’s Frogtown, currently residing in Ward 6 with her 3 children.

Katrina Mendoza Headshot

Katrina Mendoza, CollegeBound Outreach and Engagement Coordinator

Katrina Mendoza (she/ella) is the Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for CollegeBound Saint Paul. When she is not in community spaces sharing the benefits of CollegeBound or supporting the cohort of 27 Community Ambassadors she sits on the board of her district council at West Side Community Organization where she was elected West Sider of the Year in 2018 for her anti-displacement work. She also has spearheaded an initiative with Libraries Without Borders to bring community resources to her local laundromat and currently co-facilitates a Black Indigenous Womxn of Color cohort in her community. Katrina takes pride in her work for, in and alongside her beloved West Side community. She is striving to become a person her ancestors would be proud of. 

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. 

Common Financial Empowerment Terms

Last Edited: November 1, 2021