Monday, May 16, 2011

A Shared Vision for Consumer Financial Capability

By Eileen Fitzgerald, Acting CEO, NeighborWorks America
Good partners, like NeighborWorks America and the Citi Foundation, share a common vision. We both believe in financial inclusion and economic empowerment for everyone. And we realize that while helping consumers build financial knowledge and skills is important, it doesn’t go far enough. Timely, relevant financial information needs to be coupled with ongoing coaching and access to appropriate financial products and services to help consumers convert financial knowledge into positive financial practices necessary to achieve long-term, sustainable results.   

The Citi Foundation has been a leader in championing this new financial capability approach, and NeighborWorks America has a long history of providing top-notch training to financial educators. Capitalizing on the strengths of NeighborWorks America, the Citi Foundation has made a $5 million grant to expand financial capability programs across the nation.
How will we get the job done? Quite simply by building the skills of more than 400 financial education practitioners. Equipped with the best training available in financial capability and coaching, practitioners will be better prepared to assist residents in low and moderate income communities who want to improve their financial situation. We are also strengthening and expanding the financial coaching programs of 31 best-in-class organizations across the U.S. through grants and a range of technical assistance support. 
Here is what we are setting out to achieve with the Citi Foundation: Helping people access and select safe and appropriate financial products and services and providing ongoing financial coaching that helps consumers work toward their financial goals over the course of their lives. Because results are important to us, the project will also employ new Success Measures data collection tools to measure how these financial capability programs change consumer financial attitudes, behaviors and resiliency over time. For over 15 years, we have collaborated with the Citi Foundation and are enthusiastic about this next phase of our work together. We anticipate thousands of Americans will become more skillful in managing their personal finances as a result of this dynamic partnership.  And we look forward to sharing the lessons learned across the field.

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