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What is Financial Capability?

The body of research on financial capability indicates that, in order to experience gains in prosperity, avoid falling into debt, and/or evade predatory banking practices, individuals not only need financial knowledge, but also the ability to capably operate within a complex, rapidly changing financial landscape and a sense of control over their financial lives. To do so, individuals at risk for financial insecurity need access to information about money concepts coupled with reasonably priced products that allow them to save, insure, and remit effectively. In other words, individuals not only need fundamental information about banking and finance, but also access to tools to manage financial resources effectively.

The Challenge: For this category, Big Ideas @ Berkeley invites proposals for improving the financial capability of young adults. Projects should seek to help ensure young adults, particularly those from low-income communities, have access to the tools, education, and resources necessary to manage money with confidence. Proposals submitted to this category should a) demonstrate an understanding of financial challenges faced by students and/or low-income populations, and b) develop a system, plan, or technology that allows individuals to effectively take control of their financial futures.

Examples of proposals include (but are not limited to):

  • A novel high school outreach program that provides information and strategies for managing financial challenges they will face in higher education.
  • An online tool that allows individuals to manage debt, savings, and public benefits more effectively;
  • A media education project that targets young adults or low- income communities in an engaging, interactive manner.
  • A program or tool tailored to the needs of immigrant communities that enables individuals unfamiliar with mainstream financial institutions to better manage personal finances

Category Specific Rules

The “Financial Capability” category is open to all matriculated undergraduate and graduate students at UC Berkeley.  Multidisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.  For additional information about general contest rules, timing and how to apply, please refer to the Contest Application Requirements.

Past Winners

The “Financial Literacy” category is new this year. To see winning projects from other categories, visit our Past Winners Gallery.


The Charles Schwab Foundation – a private, nonprofit organization created by The Charles Schwab Corporation – helps individuals and families achieve financial well-being through education, volunteerism, and advocacy.

Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
As the second-oldest business school in the United States, the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley is one of the world’s leading producers of new ideas and knowledge in all areas of business

Blum Center for Developing Economies
The Blum Center links world-class faculty, inspiring new curriculum, and innovative technologies, services and business models to create real-world solutions for developing economies.