We would like to thank The Hillman Foundation for contributing a $300,000 grant in support of our ongoing Economic Opportunity Work in 2020 and 2021! The grant will provide extensive support to our unique portfolio of economic opportunity programming, including the Financial Opportunity Centers, Financial Empowerment Center, the Accredited Financial Counseling Cohort, and the Asset Building Network. In addition, it will give us the opportunity to address immediate and forthcoming financial needs related to COVID-19.
This generous award will support our full spectrum of Economic Opportunity initiatives. Through the delivery of these services, Neighborhood Allies positions individuals and families in Pittsburgh to increase their opportunities, skills and assets. We do this by developing strategic partnerships, raising philanthropic and government funding, launching successful national programs, creating new initiatives and analyzing data to track outcomes related to financial well-being.
We promote the following initiatives that coordinate local resources and provide opportunities to Pittsburghers to achieve financial health:
- The Asset Building Network is a collaborative community for learning and advocacy that strengthens program and policy efforts to increase economic opportunity. We host a quarterly meeting of representatives of service providers, financial institutions, government and regional entities.
- Financial Opportunity Centers (FOC) offer three core services – employment counseling, access to benefits and financial coaching – that equip clients to increase earnings, build credit, reduce expenses and boost assets. Located at Goodwill of SW PA, Mon Valley Initiative and Oakland Planning & Development Corporation.
- The Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), an initiative with the City of Pittsburgh and Advantage Credit Counseling, provides free, one-on-one financial counseling by professionally trained counselors to help manage their finances, reduce debt, increase savings, improve credit and access safe banking. Counseling is integrated into ten social service agencies across the city.
- Fund My Future, a program of Propel Schools, offers incentives to families throughout Allegheny County to open bank accounts and save for their children’s future. Connected by 20 local partners and encouraged by the chance to win $1,000 each month, 2,800 families currently participate.
- Bank On Pittsburgh creates opportunities for unbanked and underbanked people to access basic, free or low-cost accounts with local financial institutions. Partnering with the Urban League and City of Pittsburgh, we promote the adoption of national account standards with banks and integrate banking access into social services.
- We created a Financial Counseling Cohort to meet the growing demand for trained and experienced financial counselors. 15 social service professionals build their skills through the Accredited Financial Counselor™ program and meet monthly for additional peer supports.
In addition to our list of ongoing activities, our Financial Opportunity Centers and Financial Empowerment Center counselors have worked to shift amid COVID-19 in order to help individuals and families address immediate economic struggle as a result of job loss, layoffs, or rising healthcare costs. Together, the FOC and FEC network has eight trained professionals serving Allegheny County who can respond remotely to needs such as accessing public benefits and applying for unemployment compensation, as well as aid with longer-term issues such as prioritizing a stimulus check and setting savings goals. We are proud of their ability to adapt and continue delivering free, trusted financial resources to Pittbsburghers!
Now, amid economic fallout as a result of COVID-19, it clear that many families are just a lost paycheck away from financial crisis. And many of the households that we’ve been supporting are the hardest hit and need continued care. THANK YOU to the Hillman Foundation for helping us to provide financial health resources to our communities and for believing in our goal of economic opportunity for all! We could not do this without your support.