Through a $1.9 million grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies and Living Cities’ Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund, Denver has been chosen as one of five U.S. cities to replicate New York City’s evidence-based Financial Empowerment Center model. The model provides free, one-on-one financial counseling by trained professionals to low-income residents both at new local Financial Empowerment Centers and by integrating counseling into the delivery of municipal services.
mpowered leads the provision of direct financial counseling services to the community through the effort, which launched to the public in spring of 2013. Together with mpowered, the City of Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships helps to manage the grant and support implementation of the Financial Empowerment Center model.
As a growing City, poverty in Denver is sometimes hidden, but approximately 21% of the city’s 600,000 residents live below the federal poverty level and many more live below a level of true self-sufficiency. 36,000 families are estimated to be functioning outside the financial mainstream, with many using high cost financial services in place of conventional banking. 188,000 residents (31% of the population) rely on federal assistance programs through the Department of Human Services. Others turn to nonprofit providers to help meet basic needs.
Financial counseling and financial literacy efforts, particularly when delivered in concert with additional stabilization services, can be strong tools to move families out of poverty and toward self-sufficiency.
Financial Empowerment Centers
Opened on March 12, 2013, Denver’s network of Financial Empowerment Centers offers free, unbiased, one-on-one, professional financial counseling in English and Spanish. The Centers are designed to help clients:
• Take control of their debt
• Deal with debt collectors
• Improve their credit
• Build savings
• Create a budget
• Find safe and affordable financial products
• And other services based on client needs
As a result of partnerships with various City of Denver agencies and other direct human service nonprofit organizations, the Centers are co-located to provide easy access for clients in need.
- Provide free, professional, one-on-one financial advice and guidance that is both targeted to the specific financial situation of each individual and delivered at scale across the city of Denver.
- Ensure that the financial education services help thousands of individuals stabilize their finances, rebuild their credit, pay down debt, and begin to build savings in quantifiable and tangible ways.
- Impact the overall economic vitality of Denver through strategies proven by the Financial Empowerment Center model.
- Implement an innovative process that elevates the work of social services and local nonprofits by offering high touch point programs aimed at increasing financial stability and self-sufficiency of Denver residents.
First 100 Days Report
Click here to read about the major accomplishments of the first 100 days of the Center.
mpowered is a Colorado-based nonprofit resource for individuals and families in Colorado who want to learn about money management and participate in coaching to achieve an individual definition of financial success. Since 2002, mpowered has provided affordable programs to help more than 40,000 people make informed financial choices. With offices in metro Denver, mpowered is a leader in financial education and champions financial stability as one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle. Learn more at www.mpoweredcolorado.org.
Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships
The Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships (DOSP) was created in January 2004 to by the City of Denver to serve as a liaison between local government and the nonprofit sector. DOSP serves as a catalyst to leverage the best of Denver’s public and nonprofit sectors to engage in innovative and collaborative work. DOSP believes that by working collectively, the public and nonprofit sectors can be even more efficient and effective in strengthening Denver’s communities. For more information, please visit www.denvergov.org/strategicpartnerships.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works primarily to advance five areas globally: the Arts, Education, the Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. In 2011, $330 million was distributed. Government Innovation efforts, including the Financial Empowerment Centers, are part of the Mayors Project, which seeks to spread proven and promising ideas among cities. Other Mayors Project investments include Cities of Service, Innovation Delivery Teams, and the Mayors Challenge.
About Living Cities
Founded in 1991, Living Cities is an innovative collaborative of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions. In nearly 20 years Living Cities' members have collectively invested almost $1 billion, helping shape federal funding programs, redirecting public and private resources, and helping communities to build homes, stores, schools, community facilities and more. For more information, please visit: http://www.livingcities.org/.
About The CFE Fund
Living Cities’ CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. For more information, please visit http://www.cfefund.org/ or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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