PerkUp CAFÉ: Emergency financial assistance
PerkUp is a digital platform through which employees can access savings and loan products as an employee benefit. The digital platform offers loans, savings accounts and a set of curated financial education resources, including one on one financial coaching.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, PerkUp was working with local foundations to offer loans to hotel and restaurant workers in New Orleans as alternatives to high-cost loans and to test ideas for encouraging workers to transition from making loan payments to building savings. Most of these workers were laid off or furloughed, prompting PerkUp to establish an emergency financial assistance program with its philanthropic partners–the PerkUp COVID-19 Assistance Fund for Employees, or PerkUp CAFÉ.
The PerkUp CAFÉ program was launched in October 2020. The experiment tests whether need-based consumption can be encouraged through an unconditional cash transfer (UCT) as opposed to traditional means testing (e.g. making workers document financial need). It tests this through persuasive messaging and pre-commitment nudges coupled with email and text reminders, with the aim of encouraging the use of emergency assistance for meeting basic needs.
Foundation Communities: Enrollment in health insurance programs
We are currently working with Foundation Communities to field a two-part experiment that tests how behaviorally designed promotional messages affect enrollment in publicly subsidized health insurance programs.
The sample in this study is made up of all FC clients who either utilized FC’s health insurance services in a previous year (but need to re-enroll this year) or who indicated that they may be in need of health insurance when receiving other FC services in the Winter and Spring of 2020. Those in the intervention group receive redesigned promotional messages that address barriers to accessing publicly subsidized health insurance in addition to providing information about how to access FC’s insurance services.