Audible today announced the creation of Audible Bucks, a stipend program for Newark-area college students and residents designed to provide discretionary income to help offset students’ cost of food and living, drive spending at local businesses to support Newark’s economic recovery and overall financial wellness. The six-month pilot program commences this fall in collaboration with Rutgers University-Newark, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Focus Hispanic Center for Community Development Inc., Newark YMCA and Mobility Capital Finance (MoCaFi).
Audible Bucks provides up to 400 qualifying recipients with a weekly stipend of $75 for purchases at restaurants, pharmacies and grocery stores in the Newark area. Loaded onto debit cards, the Audible Bucks stipends give Newark area students and residents in need a financial cushion while supporting many of Newark’s cherished establishments, many of which have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Cards can be used at more than 50 Newark small businesses which can be viewed here.
“Inspired by the City of Newark’s guaranteed income pilot program, Newark Movement for Economic Equity, Audible Bucks will support local college students and residents in need with supplementary disposable income, while driving foot traffic to Newark’s small businesses,” said Aisha Glover, VP, Urban Innovation at Audible. “Many residents and businesses are still recovering economically from the pandemic and Audible is proud to fund this impactful program to help accelerate their journey.”
“As we continue to recover from the ongoing effects of the pandemic, innovative initiatives, like the Audible Bucks stipend, will empower students and residents and will help improve our city’s economic vitality,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “I’m grateful for Audible and all of our community partners for their continued commitment to the people of Newark.”
"Rutgers University-Newark is grateful for this collaboration with Audible. The pandemic has been hard for our students and their families. We know every bit helps and the Audible Bucks stipend recognizes the importance of support and values education. This opportunity will have a monumental impact in assisting our students," said Dean Sheronia Rogers of Rutgers University-Newark.
"We are incredibly appreciative of Audible for supporting this pilot, which will benefit NJIT students and others in the City of Newark,” said Dr. Joel Bloom, President of New Jersey Institute of Technology. “As we all know, the group most adversely affected by the COVID pandemic is those from low-income households. Providing this support to our students will be critical for many who are struggling financially."
“We see firsthand, the hardships our residents experience. As an added result of the pandemic, many of our residents are seniors or families with limited resources and in crisis seeking basic needs. Thanks to Audible and the Audible Bucks stipend, our families will have the much-needed support to help them recover, sustain, and thrive,” said Michael C. Bright, President and CEO of the Newark YMCA.
“Audible is once again offering innovative solutions for Newark families struggling to achieve financial stability,” said Maritza Arauz, Executive Director of FOCUS Hispanic Center for Community Development, Inc. “The Audible Bucks stipend will make a real difference for residents living paycheck to paycheck, who are especially vulnerable to the dual health and economic crises brought on by Covid-19.”
MoCaFi, a Black-owned fintech company serving Americans who exist in the economic margins, is providing the card technology and customer service for Audible Bucks. “MoCaFi is honored to join Audible and Newark-area partners to support this program, which fosters the type of ecosystem that we hope will be replicated in other areas,” added Wole Coaxum, Founder and CEO of MoCaFi. “With this model, students will benefit from a quality financial services tool that, in turn, will promote and sustain the growth of local businesses.”
The Audible Bucks stipend is funded by Audible and will be managed by Audible’s Global Center for Urban Development, established in 2020 to expand Audible’s community and economic initiatives with a mission to launch new and measurable models focused on advancing equity, racial justice and economic empowerment.
About MoCaFi MoCaFi (Mobility Capital Finance) is an African American-led financial technology firm that serves Americans through a platform that offers an FDIC-insured bank account as well as access to credit building tools and financial literacy programs. MoCaFi has provided assistance to individuals and businesses in need during the pandemic through partnerships with several organizations providing direct services.