Rachel Schneider is the Omidyar Network Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program (FSP), and co-author of The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty. Described as a “must-read for anyone interested in causes of – and potential solutions to – American poverty” by Publisher’s Weekly, The Financial Diaries challenges conventional wisdom about inequality. As a social entrepreneur, Rachel is launching a new effort to explore how the social contract should evolve as a result. She is particularly interested in how small, strategic cash infusions can go a longer way by helping families at pivotal moments in which they simply don’t have the cash on hand that they need. She is developing hypotheses about how cash infusions can not only be stopgap measures, but also be a bridge toward stability and an investment in mobility. She is seeking partners with whom to expand and test those hypotheses by designing and implementing prototypes, and drawing attention to the range of solutions that can help families in need.
For the last decade, Rachel has lead many of the projects at the heart of the work of the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), where she is still a Senior Advisor. She is both a conceptual, and a practical thinker, with an unusual ability to think both about big ideas and about the smaller steps that can be taken today. Her research has been cited in the nation’s largest publications, and she is a highly sought-after consultant, writer and public speaker.
Rachel began her career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch & Co., but credits her commitment to the potential for innovative finance to solve major social problems from her days as a VISTA Volunteer (now AmeriCorps). She holds a J.D./M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. from UC Berkeley.