Description & History

The Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) is the first program implemented under the Center for Economic Opportunity as part of Mayor Bloomberg's aggressive efforts to fight poverty in New York City. OFE experiments with local government?s unique capacity to leverage strategic partnerships, implement innovative solutions, and target enforcement powers to strengthen the financial security of New Yorkers with low incomes.

OFE works with government agencies, community-based organizations, philanthropic partners, think tanks, and the private sector to increase financial literacy, improve access to smart financial products and protect against fraudulent and deceptive practices.

To date, OFE has partnered with organizations to implement and test various initiatives including, a starter banking program (Opportunity NYC Basic Account), a low-cost tax preparation service (Tax Prep Plus), and an asset-building initiative ($aveNYC Account Program).

As part of NYC Service, OFE offers a variety of volunteer positions to help New Yorkers in need. OFE?s five major volunteer areas include: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program: Trained volunteers provide free tax preparation to New Yorkers with low incomes at VITA sites. Volunteers also assist with intake and provide interpretation services and benefits screenings.

?Your Money Helpline?: During this annual, weeklong phone-a-thon, trained volunteers answer calls from the public and provide basic financial education information and referrals to members of OFE?s Financial Education Network.

Financial Empowerment Centers: Financial Empowerment Centers offer free one-on-one counseling by professional counselors in English and Spanish in person or by phone. Volunteers also assist clients with intake, provide interpretation services, and assist counselors with group workshops.

Outreach Assistance: The OFE Outreach team promotes OFE's many programs and services through various community events. Volunteers participate in community events and assist OFE staff with financial education presentations.

Research Assistance: Through research, analysis, and evaluation, the OFE Research team is able to identify and evaluate programs to help New Yorkers with low incomes move out of poverty. Volunteers survey program participants, conduct interviews, and support data management.

For more information about OFE or its volunteer opportunities, visit

The Department of Consumer Affairs resolves individual consumer complaints, obtains restitution for consumers, and sues recidivist vendors.

The Department of Consumer Affairs issues more than 56,000 licenses in 55 categories of businesses, and enforces license regulations, weights and measures regulations and the Consumer Protection Law through inspections and in administrative law tribunals.

About the organization

NYC Department Of Consumer Affairs Office Of Financial Empowerment

Sydney Thomas
Program Assistant
(212) 487-2964