$tand By Me Financial Empowerment Program

$tand By Me has transformed the state of Delaware by making personal financial stability a priority for leaders and citizens at all levels.

Photo of Mary Dupont
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Written by


  • I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
  • I am over 18 years of age
  • My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
  • I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
  • My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States


  • Woman

Where are you making a difference?

State of Delaware, all zipcodes

Focus Areas (required)

  • Business & Social Enterprise
  • Children & Youth
  • Civic Engagement
  • Development & Prosperity
  • Health & Fitness
  • Human Rights & Equality
  • Peace & Harmonious Relations

Date Started

May 11, 2011

Organization Type

  • government

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)


  • $1m - $5m

Website or social media URL(s) (optional)


Twitter URL


Facebook URL


1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.

I am a social entrepreneur driven by a vision that together we can increase equality and justice throughout the world by reducing poverty and increasing economic opportunity for all. I've travelled many roads seeking answers, working in the non-profit sector as a leader creating, developing and implementing programs designed to increase social and financial stability in communities of color. Ten years ago I had an epiphany where I realized that regardless of our personal or organizational impact, the non-profit sector can't do it alone! The answer is the creation of a collective conscience and culture across government, business, education, and non-profits, inspired by a common mission to increase financial well-being for all people.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Many organizations and individuals care deeply about financial stability and devote their lives to helping others to achieve it. The problem is that the power of one person, one organization or even groups of people and organizations is not enough to shake the root causes of economic insecurity. Transformation comes from a tsunami of effort and passion, all pulling in the same direction, focused on the same outcome. I believe it is possible.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

In 2009, Delaware Governor-elect Jack Markell put a stake in the ground and declared that “financial security for all Delawareans” would be a priority of his administration. His leadership led to the creation, development, implementation, and wildfire spread of the $tand By Me Financial Empowerment Program. The Governor’s vision became a statewide multi-sector partnership, providing free personal financial coaching to help all residents establish and achieve financial goals, be it paying bills on time, buying a home, sending kids to college, or reducing debt. Coaching is seamlessly integrated into the operations of businesses, childcare and senior centers, state agencies, community revitalization and workforce development strategies, educational institutions, and non-profits to help hundreds of organizations achieve their goals. They embrace financial coaching as a pathway to financial wellness because they recognize that as people increase their financial security, they increase their success in life at home, work, school, housing, retirement, now and into the future. $tand By Me has transformed Delaware’s culture and conscience by making financial security everyone’s priority.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.

Head Start is mandated by the feds to improve the financial self-sufficiency of the families they serve. As an early childhood education organization, they have traditionally referred families to external financial literacy classes to meet this need. However most ignore the referral because groups inhibit personal discussions about money. $tand By Me partnered with the state’s Office of Early Learning to incorporate financial empowerment into the childcare quality rating system, so Head Start organizations increase their state quality rating, meet federal performance goals, and transform the lives of staff and families, when they embed financial coaching into their operations both as an employee benefit and a parent service. Because of these incentives, thousands of parents and employees in Delaware’s Head Start programs work with a $tand By Me coach to reach their financial goal.

5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?

$tand By Me serves low-wage workers, high school students and their parents, Latino immigrants, childcare workers and parents, aspiring homeowners, students in workforce training, community college students, older adults, and anyone wishing to increase their financial stability by working with a personal financial coach. We meet our customers where they are by partnering with organizations that serve them and embedding $tand By Me into their operations. We focus on people of color and women.

5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:

  • ability
  • geography
  • immigration status
  • work status
  • language
  • race/ethnicity
  • gender
  • age - youth
  • age - elder
  • socio-economic class

6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are plenty organizations that offer financial literacy education, credit counseling, and case management, but $tand By Me differs in two significant ways. One, financial coaching meets people where they are, encouraging them to establish and achieve their own goals and helping them throughout their journey by providing information, resources, and support. Coaching never dictates. Clients lead the way. Two, it is highly accessible as it is embedded into the operations of partner organizations. This enables participation, trust, and convenience and reduces shame and reluctance.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Since inception in 2011, $BM has provided services to more than 100,000 Delawareans. Of those, more than 19,000 have participated in personal financial coaching and over 28,500 in college access events on FAFSA and financial aid. 51% are African American, 19% are Latino, and 30% are white. Although they report high levels of financial stress at intake, after meeting(s) with a coach, they have achieved the following outcomes: 74% have taken action to reduce debt and improve credit scores through negotiating with creditors, entering into payment plans, refinancing/ consolidating/or lowering interest rates, and establishing or improving credit scores; 60% have created a household budget and spending plan; 14% have accessed financial services; 28% have increased their savings; and 12% are pursuing improved employment opportunities. Many customers work on more than one financial goal.

8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?

Our goal is to work with state, county, or city governments to put together a public private partnership that would form the foundation for the model. We would provide technical assistance that includes all of $tand By Me’s collateral such as MOUs, training curriculum, program strategies, marketing materials, and data management systems along with one-on-one implementation planning and advising. The critical elements are: formation of a public private multi-sector partnership led by high-level leadership combined with strong entrepreneurial program leadership at the implementation level.

8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?

  • Organizational Growth
  • Trainings, Consultation
  • Industry Standards (labels, certification, awards, etc.)
  • Other

9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The sustainability plan is to build, refine, and expand the program to serve multiple diverse constituencies, connected to state policies, programs, and strategies, such as quality in early childhood education, access to affordable housing, integration for immigrants and refugees, college enrollment for high school graduates, workforce development, quality of life in aging, etc. Overtime, this work complements state policies and efforts and becomes embedded into state programs and budgets.

10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

The lead partners are the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and the United Way of Delaware. Twelve non-profit partners are contracted through funding raised through a combination of charitable and public dollars. Thirty-five full-time financial coaches work for our non-profit partners and ten United Way employees focus on special projects. Everyone is trained in our coaching methodology and deployed on-location at program sites, hosted by over one hundred partners.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)

  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall, would you champion this entry as a excellent example to move forward to the next phase of the challenge and become a semifinalist?

Yes, absolutely! - 100%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Is this entry IMPACTFUL on financial wellbeing?

Yes, absolutely! - 100%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

4. Is this entry SUSTAINABLE?

Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

Yes/maybe - 33.3%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

5. What are some of the HIGHLIGHTS of strengths of this entry?

Connection to underserved community - 66.7%

Clarity of Model - 33.3%

Clarity of Writing - 0%

Idea Originality - 66.7%

Understanding of the marketplace or sector - 33.3%

Impact measurement - 66.7%

Impact Potential - 100%

Financial Sustainability - 66.7%

Team - 33.3%

Partnerships - 100%

Potential to scale - 100%

6. What are some of the areas for IMPROVEMENT of this entry?

Connection to underserved community - 0%

Clarity of Model - 100%

Clarity of Writing - 0%

Idea Originality - 0%

Understanding of the marketplace or sector - 0%

Impact measurement - 0%

Impact Potential - 0%

Financial Sustainability - 100%

Team - 0%

Partnerships - 0%

Potential to scale - 100%

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Attachments (2)

Governor Markell Op-Ed Fortune Magazine.pdf

Former Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Op-Ed Fortune Magazine

$BM 4-18.pdf

$tand By Me Powerpoint and Overview


Join the conversation:

Photo of Christopher Linder

Hello - pretty amazing how you all are doing this for the entire state and I love the level of partnerships you have established! My biggest concern would be sustainability - if government priorities changed especially. We'd love to learn more from you as we scale up in a similar way in Maine!

Photo of Mary Dupont

Thanks Chris! It's been so exciting seeing how everyone has jumped into the effort with a full heart. I understand your concerns about government priorities, but economic security is not just about money. It's about health, housing, kids, education... you name it. As long as we understand the self-interest of our partners in our relationships and address their goals, everyone is committed to making this work. When employees have less financial stress, they perform better. When people see that it is possible to make progress on the debt and credit situations, they are motivated to advance to home ownership. This is the case with everyone we serve. When we remove the barriers and stress that people experience from economic insecurity, they do better in other parts of their lives and suddenly, employers, state agencies, and educational institutions get it! Also, we got a bill passed in the state legislature in 2015 that codified an Office of Financial Empowerment at the Dept of Health and Social Services, so this will live on from one Administration to the next! I'd love to talk to you about replication potential in Maine. Let me know if you'd like to follow up. Thanks!