The Chicago Future Fund’s FTX Pilot is a pilot set to launch in Fall 2022 by FTX in partnership with Equity and Transformation (“EAT”) to provide $500 per month in supplemental income, financial literacy education, a zero fee bank account with access to investment products and a Visa debit card, to 100 Chicagoans. Focus neighborhoods for the EAT pilot will align with Mayor Lighftfoot’s Invest South/West and community safety programs – Austin, Englewood, and West Garfield Park. The program complements EAT’s existing Chicago Future Fund guaranteed income pilot for returning residents in West Garfield Park and Mayor Lightfoot’s Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot which is one of the largest monthly cash assistance programs in the nation supporting 5,000 low-income households with $500 each month for 12 months.
“This project is a step away from punishing communities in need and a step toward repairing them,” said Richard Wallace, Founder & Executive Director of EAT
“FTX US is proud to make the city of Chicago our headquarters,” said Brett Harrison, President of FTX US. “The city has long fostered innovation in financial technology. As we work to situate ourselves within that history, we’re even more proud to use our success as a rapidly growing regulated digital assets exchange to have a positive local impact. This is why we’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Equity and Transformation to support underbanked communities in Chicago by giving them access to $500 per month in supplemental income, financial literacy education, a zero fee bank account among other benefits. We look forward to growing here, both as a company and as a resource for those who have been underserved financially throughout Chicago.”
“As Chicago continues to grow its reputation as a hub for innovation in fintech, it is absolutely vital that all of our residents, no matter their circumstances, are able to access new technology,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Through this new FTX pilot, we will be able to ensure that residents from underrepresented backgrounds can access cash assistance, an innovative financial service, and financial education in one place. I thank FTX for partnering with EAT on this important initiative, which will ultimately make our post-pandemic recovery that much more equitable and inclusive,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.
In a study by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center, researchers found that 44% of those who own cryptocurrency are minorities, and Asian, Black and Hispanic Americans are all more likely than White Americans to have participated in cryptocurrency ownership. With half of African American households unbanked, or underbanked, in the US, resulting in a $37.6 billion “alternative” financial services industry, the crypto economy serves as a potential gateway to financial inclusion.
“Over the last decade, Chicago has become a global center for fintech, crypto, and blockchain companies,” said Samir Mayekar, Deputy Mayor of Economic & Neighborhood Development. “The commitment of these companies to financial inclusion is promising and truly emblematic of why Chicago is a unique place to grow a business. We are thankful FTX.US plans to support the commitment to financial inclusion and are glad they call Chicago home.”
Inspired by theCity of Chicago’s Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot, the Chicago Future Fund’s FTX Pilot also aims to provide financial relief, enhance economic mobility and improve the well-being of Chicago residents in the pilot’s three focus neighborhoods. In addition, this pilot will leverage FTX’s services of a zero fee bank account and financial literacy education as an on-ramp to banking and wealth-building for the 100 participants.
With more than 90 guaranteed income programs being developed or launched around the country, the Chicago Future Fund’s FTX Pilot will contribute meaningfully to the future of guaranteed income by leading the largest-scale private demonstration paired with banking inclusion services for 100 households. An academic partner will be brought to conduct a research study to understand the effect of $500 per month and companion financial inclusion services on residents’ financial stability and economic mobility.