Citi and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC: Financial Security of Older Residents of Public Housing

The challenge

In 2016, the City of New York announced its commitment to install and deliver free broadband service at five public housing developments. With the support of Citi Community Development, OATS was selected to design and launch a concurrent effort to improve the digital and financial literacy skills of the developments’ older residents.

The strategy

Design and implement a program using digital devices to maximize broadband technology participation by residents 60 and over in Queensbridge Houses (one of the largest public housing complexes in the world, and the first community targeted for the municipal broadband initiative). Support the residents in using technology to enhance income and economic security, create digital and community linkages, and develop skills that would allow them to live more enriched and independent lives.

The solution

OATS conducted extensive community outreach to 1,400 older adult households at Queensbridge Houses. After identifying and assessing resident priorities and goals around financial security and technology, OATS developed a ten-week, twenty-session financial security curriculum. Money Matters is a blended learning experience, combining in-person instruction with Senior Planet U — OATS’s online learning platform— and 45 online content and resource modules. The course offers digital resources for budgeting, saving, and earning money. In the first year, 61 seniors graduated from Money Matters. Based on the program’s popularity and success, Citi Community Development responded by funding OATS to expand its financial security programming. In addition to translating Money Matters into Spanish and offering it more widely, OATS developed a second ten-week financial security course on entrepreneurship: Startup! This course aims to equip older adults interested in starting a business with the knowledge of digital tools and platforms as well as the skills necessary to leverage them. This blended learning experience offers live training sessions and 120 learning modules on Senior Planet U. Both courses have proven successful and are currently offered at all Senior Planet locations nationwide.