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 CollegeBound program. Saint Paul also gives families in the CollegeBound Boost $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.

The LOCAL Fund: Worker Ownership and Community Ownership Programs

The City of Saint Paul Office of Financial Empowerment is partnering with Nexus Community Partners to implement the LOCAL Fund: Worker Ownership and Community Ownership programs (see press release). The LOCAL Fund uses a shared ownership approach to building community wealth. Both the Worker and Community Ownership programs aim to build just and equitable communities by promoting local and broad-based ownership and lifting up cooperative and culturally based economic practices.

The LOCAL Fund is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP1612 awarded to City of Saint Paul by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Learn more about the LOCAL Fund

Results of Saint Paul Guaranteed Income Pilot Show Increased Employment, Improved Outlook

Data is in for the People's Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot, and results show positive trends in employment, physical and mental health, and other indicators of well-being and quality of life. Read the press release on the findings and the research report from the Center for Guaranteed Income Research (CGIR) at University of Pennsylvania.

Download Full CGIR Report

OFE Programs & Projects

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

Guaranteed Income

People's Prosperity Pilot Logo

The City of Saint Paul launched the  People’s Prosperity Pilot in 2020 and CollegeBound Boost in 2022 to give randomly selected CollegeBound Saint Paul families with a $500 unrestricted monthly cash transfers for 18 and 24 months, respectively. The additional income helps families make ends meet and the dignity to have control over their decisions. Participating CollegeBound children also receive additional deposits in their college savings accounts. 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 guaranteed income

Fair Housing

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

Learn more about Fair Housing resources 


To address the impacts of the pandemic on Saint Paul’s communities and small businesses, and as part of a Citywide strategy to build institutional commitment to community wealth building, the City of Saint Paul created the LOCAL Fund to use a shared ownership model to achieve healthy and sustainable neighborhoods through recovery of vacant and abandoned properties and to mitigate the enduring economic impacts of the pandemic on small businesses. The LOCAL Fund is a partnership with Nexus Community Partners.

Learn more about the LOCAL Fund

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

Fraudulent Immigration Services Campaign

Protect Yourself Hmong

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 about the Campaign

Publications & Research

OFE In the News

US currency

Newsweek: A Modern War on Poverty

On this 60th anniversary of America's declaration of unconditional war on poverty, we must bet on ourselves and finally eradicate poverty through a guaranteed income - Melvin Carter. 

Read on Newsweek.com
Mayor Carter 2022 Budget Address

Pioneer Press: Study: Outlooks brightened but savings elusive during St. Paul’s guaranteed income project

The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income Research has completed a 59-page report on its findings, coming to the conclusion that St. Paul’s “People’s Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot” worked “protectively,” offering some financial breathing room during the pandemic, though that disappeared after the cash ended.

Read at TwinCities.com
Final Notice on Medical Bill

KARE 11: St. Paul City Council approves millions in relief for residents experiencing medical debt

Mayor Melvin Carter said he learned about this approach to ease the burden of medical debt on residents by researching what other cities were doing.

Watch on KARE11.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 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
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 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 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 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 on nextcity.org
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 on nextcity.org
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 on route-fifty.com

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.

Faith Dietz headshot

Faith Dietz, Fair Housing Coordinator

Faith Dietz (she/her) joined the City of Saint Paul in November 2022 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. Faith brings her previous experience with corporate, non-profit, and community projects and change to her work with internal and external partners and stakeholders.  

Faith also sits on the Fair Housing Implementation Council (FHIC).

Mai C. Yang

Mai C. Yang, Shared Ownership Coordinator

Mai C. Yang (she/her) is the Shared Ownership Coordinator with the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE). In this role she manages the LOCAL Fund which utilizes community and worker ownership as strategies to generating wealth; improving the quality of life of workers; and promoting community and local economic development. Mai’s career has focused on social change efforts through grantmaking as well as implementing programs that affect the wellbeing of marginalized, underprivileged, and underserved populations. 

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.

Andrei Hahn

Andrei Hahn, Data Management & Customer Service Coordinator

Andrei Hahn (he/him) coordinates the database management and customer service for CollegeBound Saint Paul. He has previous experience with data administration, program evaluation, planning and teaching. Andrei has a Master of Public Policy degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Common Financial Empowerment Terms

Last Edited: May 30, 2024