path to equity

2021 Impact Report

foster economic opportunity

Our Economic Opportunity initiatives empower families to take transformational actions and access the knowledge and support they need to achieve sustainable financial well-being.

path to equity

2021 Impact Report

foster economic opportunity

Our Economic Opportunity initiatives empower families to take transformational actions and access the knowledge and support they need to achieve sustainable financial well-being.

Financial Empowerment Center Expands Impact Through New Partnerships

For the past three years, we have partnered with the City of Pittsburgh and Advantage Credit Counseling to provide free, one-on-one financial counseling by trained and certified counselors to anyone in Allegheny County through the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center (FEC). At the FEC, clients are offered financial coaching to help them take control of their debt, improve their credit, create a budget, save, connect to safe and affordable financial products, save for emergencies and major purchases, and much more.

In 2021, the FEC continued to reach even more clients and helped over 600 Pittsburghers save a total of $629,000! We also created a new and exciting partnership with the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the national nonprofit Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund called Small Business Boost, which officially launched in 2022.

Small Business Boost, a new pilot program, will help local entrepreneurs and small business owners in Pittsburgh to improve their personal finances, better positioning them to access capital and achieve their business goals. Supported by Principal Foundation, the initiative helps entrepreneurs and small business owners overcome obstacles to financial stability and allows them to more easily start or grow their business and manage irregular cash flow.

“While the Financial Empowerment Center can assist anyone who needs financial counseling services, with this expanded partnership, we’re able to connect entrepreneurs with the financial expertise to help sustain and grow their businesses. We’re focusing our efforts on Black entrepreneurs, who have traditionally lacked access to capital and credit”

– Sarah Dieleman Perry, Director of Economic Opportunity at Neighborhood Allies

Total Savings Built

Clients Served at the FEC

Total Debt Reduced

Free Laptops Distributed to Residents

Households with Access to Free Internet

How We Help Foster Economic Opportunity

Financial Empowerment Center

The Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh and Advantage Credit Counseling, offers free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling to individuals and families looking to address their financial challenges and plan for their futures. In 2021, the FEC served 615 clients in 1,547 sessions; they accrued $629,000 in savings and  reduced $1,504,000 in debt.

Fund My Future PGH

The vision of Fund My Future (FMF) is that children and their families take practical steps that transform aspirations into reality and build confidence in the future as part of a local savings movement. 2021 impact includes: 1,600 families with accounts for their children and 600 families are eligible to win each month for making deposits. $12,000 was given away in prizes.

Asset Building Network

We created the Asset Building Network in 2016 to address the significant inequities that persist, particularly for people of color and low-and moderate-income people in Pittsburgh. The 40+ organization network is a collaborative community for learning and advocacy to coordinate local resources and strengthen program and policy efforts to increase economic opportunity for all.

Bank On Allegheny County Coalition

 In Allegheny County, nearly 30% of residents are unbanked or underbanked. Access to a basic transaction account is an important first step in participating in the financial mainstream – depositing earnings securely, paying bills efficiently, accessing credit, and saving. 90 Bank On coalitions around the country work to connect everyone to safe, affordable, and appropriate financial products and services – including Bank On Allegheny County. We are a collaboration between financial institutions, community-based organizations and local government to ensure that all residents have the opportunity to be financially healthy. Our members also offer services and educational resources that help empower people and families to improve their financial capability, health and independence.

Pittsburgh Disability Awareness & Financial Inclusion Working Group

The poverty rate of people with a disability is nearly three times greater than those without a disability (22.5% vs. 8.4%). In response, we lead the Pittsburgh Financial Inclusion and Disability Awareness Working Group, launched by National Disability Institute in January 2020. We received funding from Heinz Endowments and Fisa Foundation to hire Achieva Family Trust to produce four workshops for financial professionals to assist them to better serve people with disabilities.  

Accredited Financial Counseling Cohort

Launched in 2019, our Accredited Financial Counseling Cohort allows participants to achieve nationally recognized certification as Accredited Financial Counselors through the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education. The 2020-2021 Cohort started remotely in July and was led by a graduate of the 2019 cohort. To date, five individuals have passed the exam and four have received certification; several more plan to complete the process by mid-2021.

Level Up 412

Level Up 412 is an equitable-access initiative devoted to providing educational opportunities and coursework to those interested in careers in the tech industry. Created by Neighborhood Allies, funded by Verizon, we work in partnership with respected regional partners committed to bridging the digital divide, providing STEM learning to all ages and populations. Through our programming, we offer the tools, resources, and encouragement for all of our scholars to pursue fulfilling career opportunities in the growing tech industry.

Beyond the Laptops

Beyond the Laptops began in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Families and workers were expected to complete school and jobs remotely. Yet tens of thousands of students in our community didn’t have access to the devices or the connectivity required to successfully participate in the education of the 21st century. Along with many partners, we responded to the crisis by supplying over one thousand devices across Pittsburgh. That was followed by the sponsorship of 1000 internet accounts through Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Steel Smiling

Through our Organization-in-Residence, Steel Smiling, we are able to add mental health services to our program offerings. Steel Smiling is an entry point and a connector for local Black people to participate in mental health education and trainings, explore workforce development opportunities within the mental health field, and access a variety of supports for individual healing and mental wellness. Steel Smiling provides a variety of mental health-focused programming to Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Black community including Beams to Bridges and the Black Mental Health Fund.