Surprising Benefits of Financial Security in Workforce Development
The WorkBOOST NYC Initiative, Then and Now
In May, The Financial Clinic launched a new initiative — WorkBOOST NYC — to embed the financial security ecosystem holistic partnership model into four leading workforce organizations in New York City: Madison Strategies Group, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, Phipps Neighborhoods, and Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center.
The ecosystem approach combines the Clinic’s proven strategies for building financial security: capacity building, direct service, and lasting change, connected through our web-based platform, Change Machine. Already, 43 front-line staff have been trained to incorporate financial security building strategies through 11 trainings. They have met with 207 customers in 269 “light-touch” coaching meetings, in other words, employing basic financial principles and actions while helping individuals become job-ready. 50 of those customers had more complex financial concerns and were referred to the Clinic’s on-site financial coach. Customers (and frontline staff themselves) are achieving milestones left and right: 75 credit reports pulled, 67 organized debts, 41 spending plans created, and 112 financial goals defined!
These numbers are great, but what does it actually look like?
Dallana, a case manager at Stanley Isaacs Center’s Young Adult Learners Program, describes her experience adding financial security strategies and Change Machine into her work:
“At first I was a bit nervous…it was something new because I was hardly aware of the different aspects of finance until after taking the license training. I started to learn new things in regards to finance, and I also like the way students get to talk about their finance…students feel enlightened with the information given in learning ways to save money. [Using Change Machine], each student gets to see what they need to save each week in order to reach their goals, outline their spending, and make them realize where they are spending their money.”
Like customer Gail:
As a senior, Gail felt her job search was becoming futile, having faced overwhelming age discrimination in interviews (once, an HR representative wrongfully demanded she give her age during an interview and when she refused, she was considered unqualified). She was frustrated, thinking there was no help available for an unemployed senior, until she was referred to Madison Strategies Group for a four-day job placement course. On day three, a front-line staff member ran her credit report and discovered her identity had been stolen! Gail called Bloomingdale’s Fraud Department to find a woman had called Bloomingdale’s, pretending to be Gail, and had her account transferred to the woman’s address in Florida. Then, she ran up nearly $7,500 in fraudulent charges, including $4,000 in furniture.
The frontline staff at Madison Strategies Group referred Gail to the Clinic’s onsite financial coach, Erica. They went through the credit report together line by line to ensure everything else was accurate. With Erica’s support and guidance, Gail has filed disputes with the credit union and the FTC, and filed a police report. Together, they are working to ensure Gail’s credit report becomes 100% cleared. She is feeling much more confident and will continue working with Erica to secure affordable housing. She described her experience:
“Erica is respectful, compassionate, and understanding. She gives me a handle on my finances and gives me hope and respect so I know I’m not alone.”
Chief Executive Officer, Randy Peers, explains the importance for Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow:
“It’s challenging to approach things differently. One of the biggest obstacles is that staff tend to see financial education as ‘just another thing to do.’ But the policy environment is changing, and we must integrate these programs in our mission. While it’s a big commitment of resources, and for our leadership, the returns for greater financial security for our students makes the investment worth it.”