#TrustPlusatWork: United Way of Washtenaw County
Bridget Herrmann, Vice President of Impact and Advocacy at United Way of Washtenaw County, discusses how offering personal finance coaching from TrustPlus to all who live and work in the county enhances their impact on individuals and supports other local organizations in enhancing their impacts as well.
What do you do?
We’ve been in this community for over a hundred years. 12% of our residents are experiencing poverty right now and almost a third are struggling to meet basic needs of food, clothing, childcare, etc. We call these people ALICE® which stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed. They’re people living paycheck to paycheck, waiting on you at restaurants, delivering home healthcare to your elderly relatives, teaching your kids in schools. They are our priority population that we focus on at United Way of Washtenaw County and for whom we work.
Why partner with TrustPlus?
We focus on education, financial stability, and health. We consider them the building blocks for a good quality of life. If you take one of those legs of the stool away, then you’re going to struggle. We’re not necessarily taught financial management as part of our K to 12 education. So being able to deliver financial coaching and bring this resource into our community is important to help people understand their relationship with money and use that relationship intentionally to reach their financial goals for themselves or their families.
Whether the goal is paying down debt, better understanding how credit scores work, being able to save for a home or a vacation, it doesn’t matter and it doesn’t have to be work related. We want to equip people with knowledge and skills and most importantly a positive relationship with a person who provides judgment-free support around personal finance when they need it for as long as they need it.
The other opportunity here is synergy. Right now in our building, we offer free tax preparation as a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) site. We ask all clients as part of their intake if they want to learn more about TrustPlus and the financial coaching services that we provide. Being paired with a financial coach at that moment can be really powerful because people will be receiving a tax refund, potentially, they will have money at their disposal, and now an opportunity to have a conversation around what to do with it. And so that’s another way that we like to think about bundling the services that we deliver to have a really powerful impact in people’s lives.
Who’s eligible and how does one sign up?
Anybody who lives or works in Washtenaw County is eligible to take advantage of TrustPlus and begin working with a financial coach. There are no income eligibility guidelines. It is free. There are no gimmicks, it’s free!
Connecting with TrustPlus Financial Coaches is easy. You can call 2–1–1, or you can go to the United Way of Washtenaw County’s website and that’s at UWgive.org where TrustPlus is currently on our homepage, or you can text UNITEDWAY to (646) 349–5959.
You can engage in this entire experience exclusively through your phone. It is pandemic proof to the extent possible because it’s all remote, it’s really about meeting people where they are in the comfort of their homes.
What has the community response been like so far?
We’ve had a pretty powerful response from community members who are interested in taking advantage of TrustPlus. At its core, we’re hoping to change people’s mental models around their relationship with money so that it’s no longer marked by shame or guilt. We want people to feel empowered to manage their money confidently, to ask questions when they have them and be able to make strides towards their personal financial goals, whatever those may be, so that they can live the quality of life that they desire for themselves and their family.
How does TrustPlus help you enhance your impact on individuals and other organizations?
We talk about TrustPlus as a resource that’s available for all community members, but TrustPlus is also a powerful resource available for staff of local nonprofits. The TrustPlus team has been tremendous in offering group coaching and issue and topic focused engagements with employees of local nonprofits. So another way to think about TrustPlus is as a team building tool for organizations, whether they’re nonprofits or for-profits. And we are pleased to be able to provide this service to be used not only by individuals but also by other organizations.