ENGLEWOOD, COLORADO—The National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) has announced dramatic alterations to its grants program that, among other changes, now place a strong emphasis on personal finance projects related to innovative research and development. The redesigned program also includes a revised and streamlined application system, resulting in a more focused, simplified and achievement-oriented process. The next deadline for the submission of proposals is June 19, 2006.

Hallmarks of the redesigned program include the clarification of funding priorities and eligibility requirements, the introduction of a simple two-page Concept Inquiry Form as the first step for applicants in submitting a project idea and an assessment and evaluation process that will guide NEFE in determining which projects show the greatest potential for positive impact on the public.

Changes to the program are the culmination of several factors, including lessons learned from NEFE’s first eight years of experience as a grantmaker; appreciative inquiry into the funding approaches of highly respected national foundations; the increasing emphasis by nonprofit organizations to achieve measurable performance; and a response to a growing impetus among members of the financial literacy community to identify and apply practicable solutions to financial education issues.

One of the highlights of the newly restructured grants program is that it will put an emphasis on research and development efforts that inform or enhance the ability of intermediaries to provide effective outreach to their constituents.  For purposes of the grants program, the term “intermediaries” refers to financial educators and researchers, as well as decision makers, nonprofit organizations, government professionals and others whose jobs frequently require them to understand or communicate with their constituents about personal financial management matters, even if their training has not prepared them to do so. Expanding the body of knowledge, analyzing trends and applying acumen from diverse fields such as behavioral economics, neuroscience, psychology, change theory, marketing, sociology, finance, economics and related disciplines is of critical importance in developing a broad-based, actionable wealth of solutions to address a variety of personal finance issues.

Two new initiatives also have been added to the list of those on which all of the organization’s programs are based. These include: 1) To expand the financial literacy body of knowledge through research in support of developing a discipline that prepares educators and other intermediaries to improve the financial well-being of the public; and 2) To support proactive research of consumer, social and business trends; underlying assumptions; attitudes; root causes and related facets of financial well-being whose outcomes achieve innovative and actionable financial education solutions. While funding requests may address any of NEFE’s initiatives, grant applicants will be encouraged to pay particular attention to the research and development components of the two new ones, which now can be found on NEFE’s Web site.

In addition to an emphasis on the new initiatives, NEFE urges grant applicants to utilize the Executive Summary from the foundation’s 2005 symposium, titled Closing the Gap Between Knowledge and Behavior: Turning Education into Action, as a guide to project topics.  Potential grant applicants also should focus on the “Next Steps” section of the symposium white paper report, also available on the NEFE Web site, as it highlights the financial literacy community’s desire for projects that incorporate expertise from areas outside traditional financial education to help address financial well-being issues.



  • Paul Golden

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