Building the financial stability of low income residents is a cornerstone in Bay Area LISC’s comprehensive approach to building healthy and sustainable communities. Numerous surveys and discussions with residents have resulted in identifying access to jobs as a key priority. Through our Financial Opportunity Centers Bay Area LISC helps low income residents find jobs, build assets and gain access to resources that lead to becoming financially successful.
In 2010 LISC received the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) award from the federal government, which was a clear validation of the anti-poverty and replication potential of its Financial Opportunity Centers. Fully implementing the model is an entirely new way of thinking about family economic stability. FOCs are not separate organizational entities, but are part of existing community-based organizations that have experience in providing social, financial, workforce, and educational services. From lessons learned in the first few centers and the substantial scaling-up of the model under SIF, LISC and our community partners understand how to make this model work for families.
The intentional integration of the three core services—employment assistance, financial coaching, and access to public benefits—is the key to the model’s success. Early analysis of data from the FOC network indicates that clients receiving multiple or all of the services are more likely to increase their net income, retain employment and improve their credit score.
The core services are mutually reinforcing. Access to benefits like SNAP, utility assistance, or children’s health insurance can provide the short-term monthly income boost to allow FOC clients to focus on longer-term financial and career goals. As individuals improve their employment situation, seeing monthly cash flow move from negative to positive motivates clients to stay on the job, consider a career path, and tackle financial goals.
Currently Bay Area LISC supports three Financial Opportunity Centers and three additional sites will begin to implement the FOC model in 2014.
Our Financial Opportunity Centers’ results from their second year of operation:
• 1073 individuals received integrated services
• 252 individuals were placed in jobs
• 132 individuals improved their net income
|David Dickens, a participant in one of the Center’s program, was recently released from prison and was thankful that the Rubicon Financial Opportunity Center accepted him. “I came home thinking nobody’s going to employ me. I lost my home, my son. It was difficult to make the transition when I came back to society,” said Dickens. “Rubicon gave me the confidence that I needed…I really want to get my son back and I’m really just trying to move forward. Rubicon really assists me.” Read an article about Rubicon and David’s story here.|
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