Financial Empowerment Centers (FEC) offer professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service to enable residents to address their financial challenges and needs as well as plan for their futures. In partnership with seed funder Bloomberg Philanthropies, and additional generous support from Principal Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation, the CFE Fund is promoting FEC replication through cohorts of local leaders who are developing, launching, and implementing financial counseling as a free public service, along with strategic research projects to enhance the success of financial counseling. Get in touch to join as a supportive funding partner.
The CFE Fund is supporting cohorts of new cities or counties interested in launching a Financial Empowerment Center through FEC Academy, an expanded entry point to the FECPublic movement. The CFE Fund’s FEC Academy guides government partners through each step of planning to launch the FEC model of professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a local public service. FEC Academy includes significant CFE Fund technical assistance, access to planning resources and information, and participation in a robust learning community. Upon completion of the FEC Academy, partners will be equipped to mobilize the building blocks to launch the Financial Empowerment Center initiative in their community, including through leveraging federal funding streams like the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The Financial Empowerment Center Model
Financial Empowerment Center clients receive free, one-on-one professional counseling assistance with money management, budgeting, reducing debt, establishing and improving credit, connecting to safe and affordable banking services, building savings, and referrals to other services and organizations. Professionally trained counselors support their clients in navigating complex financial challenges and choices, helping them identify and meet present challenges and future ambitions. Local governments offer FEC financial counseling as a free stand-alone public service, but also via integration into other social services including housing and foreclosure prevention services, workforce development, prisoner reentry, benefits access, domestic violence prevention, and more.
Financial Empowerment Center Evaluation Findings
In 2013, the CFE Fund awarded its first grants to replicate the model in five cities through a $16.2 million, 3-year investment by Bloomberg Philanthropies. An Evaluation of Financial Empowerment Centers: Building People’s Financial Stability As a Public Service, demonstrates the success of the 5-city implementation, drawing on data from 22,000 clients who participated in 57,000 counseling sessions across the first 5 city replication partners.