United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

February 21, 2017

Financial coaching changed the lives of these 4 families

The financial coaching model at our financial opportunity centers is empowering and improving the lives of real people in our community.

A job loss or financial setback is overwhelming and stressful for any family.  And nobody should have to tackle that alone, especially when there are so many resources available to help families who are struggling to get back on their feet. But the process of finding help can be complex and overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.

United Way’s network of six financial opportunity centers in communities facing high poverty rates (Chelsea, Lawrence, Lynn, Quincy, Roxbury, and Downtown Boston) are operated with a number of partners and supported by Bank of America, bringing together a host of services conveniently under one roof. By bundling services in this way, we can help families get better results, faster.

Here are some examples of how they these centers are making a difference in the lives of real people in our community.

a New refugee becomes financially INDEPENDENT

Wilken was a refugee from Haiti, living on just his refugee cash assistance of $428 dollars a month. He was determined to make a life for himself in America, but his unfamiliarity with the daunting American financial system was holding him back.

When Wilken enrolled at the Financial Opportunity Center with partner Jewish Vocational Service in June 2015, employment and financial counseling helped get him on the right track. He soon became employed full-time at a restaurant. And financial coaching helped him understand the banking system to open a savings account and manage a secure credit card. JVS also helped him navigate the DMV process to obtain his license as he saved for a car. Because of the financial opportunity center, Wilken was able to obtain a job, savings, credit, and his driver’s license – becoming a productive and self-sufficient member of the community in just two years!

A family avoids financial crisis through job training

For some families, even a modest rise in rent can elicit serious panic, as it means facing homelessness and a major financial crisis. “C” and her family were already struggling to make ends meet when the Lynn Public Schools referred them to Project RISE at the Lynn Family Success Center. “C” wanted to work to increase the family income, but her English skills were too limited to acquire a job. With help of the Family Success Center, she was referred to English classes and soon secured a job at Walmart.

The new job proved to be a lifesaver, elevating the family income enough so that when their rent was increased by $150 a month, “C” and her family were able to stay in their home. The family continues to meet regularly with a financial coach to improve their family stability through credit-building and savings.

A single mother dreams of homeownership

Like many hardworking families, M.C. dreams of homeownership.  But as a single mother with three children, it had always seemed like more of a dream than a realistic goal.  In 2011, she joined a program through our partner Quincy Community Action Programs (QCAP) to help her with her financial goals and employment skills.  Over the last four years, through QCAP,  M.C has worked with a Financial Coach and an Employment Specialist to increase her job skills and prospects, and attended financial education and homebuyer seminars.

In 2015, M.C. secured a new job, increasing her income and benefits. With her improved financial education, she has a budget and savings plan in place and is on track to realize her dream of homeownership.

financial coaching helps increase income and credit score

Marlene, a Spanish and French teacher in Jamaica, immigrated to the U.S. in August 2014.  She wanted to learn “how things work in the U.S.”, so she stopped in to the CONNECT Financial Opportunity Center at The Neighborhood Developers in Chelsea. There, she signed up for financial coaching and opened a savings and checking account.  She also received employment services, tax preparation services and took technology classes to improve her job skills.

In just one year, Marlene went from zero credit to to a credit score of 676. Currently employed at TJX Companies, she has signed up for retirement savings with a match from her employer and is on the lookout for career development opportunities.

These are just a few examples of the real success stories happening with our community partners as a result of strong financial coaching. In fact, across all six of our Financial Opportunity Centers, clients last year increased their credit scores by an average of 59 points and their monthly net income by $313.

Learn more about our Financial Opportunity Centers.