What can Service Coordinators do to link participants to financial education, financial coaching, and other asset-building resources?
Many ROSS program participants will benefit from education and coaching to improve their financial capabilities. These programs build financial literacy, enabling participants to make well-informed financial decisions, and increase awareness of skills and behaviors to achieve residents’ financial goals. Financial education and coaching programs may also offer an asset-building component to help participants increase their savings. For example, in an Individual Development Account (IDA), the program sponsor matches client contributions to support goals such as homeownership, education, or entrepreneurship.
Organizations that offer these services in many communities include:
- Nonprofit organizations specializing in asset-building and financial coaching for low- and moderate-income individuals to help them improve their credit, build savings, connect to mainstream financial services, and create budgets. Some of these programs also offer IDAs that match the savings of low- and moderate-income individuals. The nonprofit organization Prosperity Now lists IDA providers and other asset-building organizations on its website;
See Chapter 5 of the FSS Guidebook, Administering an Effective Family Self-Sufficiency Program, for more information on helping participants build assets and financial capability.
See Helping FSS Participants Build Assets and Financial Capability for an online library of resources related to helping residents build their assets and financial capability.
- Asset-building coalitions at the state, regional, or local levels, whose members include organizations and agencies committed to helping individuals and families build personal assets. These are often organized around Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs;
- Credit counseling organizations can develop plans to improve clients’ credit scores, including identifying and correcting errors and creating a repayment plan for any outstanding debt. Be sure to screen organizations carefully. Some organizations misrepresent themselves as providing credit repair services but do not ultimately have the clients’ best interests at heart—nonprofit status itself does not guarantee an organization’s commitment to low-income families;
- Financial institutions may offer financial counseling or education programs, or partner with non-profit organizations that do so. Financial institutions participating in the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s Bank On platform have committed to make available safe, low-cost products for unbanked and underbanked households. (See local branches with certified Bank On Approved Accounts.);
- Local or state offices of Financial or Economic Empowerment that offer financial education and counseling services, or work with community-based organizations to do so; and
- HHS Assets for Independence grantees that have received funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to offer matched-savings accounts.