June 12, 2024

The City of El Monte uses GiveCard to Secure More Funding

Colin Guan

Partnerships Lead

The Challenge:

How to demonstrate to the City that direct cash transfers like guaranteed income lead to significant impact to the community.

The Outcome:

The City of El Monte used GiveCard’s card-issuing platform to distribute payments to participants, and leveraged the reporting insights as proof to secure two new funding opportunities for an extension and a net new program.

The City of El Monte in California and the RAND corporation partnered with GiveCard to deliver financial assistance to resident single mothers with children in the City. This case study provides insight into some of the thought processes behind the success and expansion of El Monte's pilot program, highlighting key strategies, challenges, and outcomes along the way.

Reducing Administrative Burden: The City realized early on that traditional methods like issuing checks or store bought gift cards was unrealistic, because it placed a heavy administrative burden on their own teams.

They instead opted to distribute payments over reloadable prepaid debit cards using the GiveCard platform, which provided the flexibility needed to focus on the program design. With this set-up, running a pilot program would not only be more cost-effective, but also reduce time that the City spent handling logistics and distribution, allowing them to focus on driving impactful outcomes rather than managing logistical challenges.

“We thought at one point of just disbursing funds [ourselves via] writing checks, but the logistics to do that … was something we didn’t want to deal with. On top of that, we wouldn’t have any reporting data to have visibility on how the money was being spent.” – Michelle Solorzano, former Senior Project Manager, City of El Monte

Mission-Critical Customer Support: A key priority from the start was robust customer support that properly supported the language needs of the City’s diverse population. Ensuring that participants were able to easily access resources on how to use the card was a mission-critical requirement. Utilizing GiveCard’s multilingual customer support team and self-serve cardholder portal, the City was able to properly support its participants without introducing any significant support burden to their own team.

Navigating Public Terrain: Launching a guaranteed income program was not without its hurdles, especially in dispelling misconceptions from the City and the general public. Using key statistics generated from reporting data generated in the GiveCard platform, the City of El Monte debunked some of the most common pushbacks they received, and secured crucial support from important stakeholders to increase visibility on the program’s effectiveness.

The City was also able to demonstrate that the funds were being properly used, by showing that the spending activity across the cards they distributed fell into categories like groceries, pharmacies, and food. This allowed them to build trust with both the public and department-level stakeholders, setting a strong foundation for the program's future expansion.

Data-Driven Decision Making: Leveraging GiveCard's robust analytics and reporting capabilities allowed the City to gain invaluable insights into spending patterns, leading them to find that the funds being distributed were used by its participants to purchase groceries, baby formula, and other life necessities. This enabled the City to make informed strategic decisions during the program as to how they should communicate where GiveCards could be used, and even provide transparent accountability to the community and city council.

“Tracking the expenditures in a way that is meaningful has allowed us to extend our project and to ask for funding.” - Michelle Solorzano, former Senior Project Manager, City of El Monte

Driving Extension and Expansion: The success of the City’s pilot program acted as a catalyst for broader initiatives for social change. Armed with compelling data and insights, the City not only secured funding opportunities for an extension of this current pilot, but also for a brand new, ambitious three-year project encompassing an even wider cohort of participants. This new pilot expands the impact from single parents to include transitioning youth, veterans, and other key populations.

Inspiring Replication and Collaboration: El Monte's groundbreaking efforts did not go unnoticed, igniting a ripple effect across neighboring communities. The success of El Monte's pilot program not only attracted the attention of the greater Los Angeles County, but also inspired cities like Pomona, California to begin planning their own guaranteed income pilots.

The Four Pillars of Success: Michelle, the lead program manager for El Monte's pilot, succinctly captures the essence of GiveCard's impact through four pillars: 

  1. Cost-effectiveness
  2. Comprehensive analytics
  3. User-friendly platform
  4. Unparalleled customer service

The City of El Monte stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and unwavering commitment to community empowerment. Through their partnership with GiveCard, the City has not only scaled a guaranteed income program, but also sparked initiatives beyond its city limits, encouraging other cities to become just as innovative in their approach to programs.

“If you ask for a business proposal, expect these four things and compare these four things to other companies, because GiveCard is going to win.”

Michelle Solorzano, former Senior Project Manager, City of El Monte