Our Focus

Strategic Initiatives

Coordinated by the Financial Empowerment Network (FEN) board of directors and initiative chairs, service providers are connected to financial resources, education and networking opportunities to better assist their clients.

1)  Bank on Seattle-King County is a major public-private initiative to connect people to affordable mainstream financial services, including checking, savings, credit, and financial education opportunities.

  • Bank/Credit Union Comparison Matrix lists products and features of each institution’s accounts. The matrix is online at the Network’s website and can now be compared through an online chart.a
  • A key innovation of Bank On was the creation of the Financial Education Partners Network (FEPN) and workshops that offer training in Integration of Financial Empowerment into other Service Systems.

2)  Financial Education Partners Network (FEPN) serves as a countywide network of financial education providers and participating agencies that are committed to providing low-cost, high-quality financial education and resources to low-income and working Seattle and King County residents. The purpose of FEPN is to provide the asset building community of financial educators, case managers, and financial counselors with networking opportunities, best practices, workshops and training that will improve the effectiveness of their approach and the quality of their services as well as to increase access of underserved populations to financial self-sufficiency services.

Through quarterly workshops, the FEPN offers continuing education that illustrates how members can practically implement financial empowerment strategies and resources in the context of their own organizations and programs. Workshop presenters are local professionals from diverse backgrounds with knowledge of the needs of low/moderate income people and the financial empowerment education and resources they need to be more financially successful. Workshops offer an interactive pedagogy that engages participants and fosters follow-up discussion (topics cover a full range of financial empowerment topics as well as the specific needs of target populations including banking).

     FEPN Workgroups

  • South King County Financial Inclusion
  • Financial Inclusion & Disability Awareness

3)  EITC/Free Tax Preparation Campaign connects low-income individuals with free tax preparation assistance and help in accessing the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The United Way of King County leads FEN’s EITC/free tax preparation campaign. In 2018, FEN supported United Way with funding and outreach, resulting in 23,200 families and individuals with tax preparation services, returning $31.6 million in refunds, including over $9.8 million in EITC.

  • 65 languages were spoken at 30 tax prep sites across King County.
  • 1,819 referrals were made to Basic Food, healthcare and Orca Lift.
  • 217 ITINS were completed; 114 ITIN’s renewed & 103 new ITIN’s secured.
  • 797 referrals for utility assistance.
  • 1,138 referrals for financial coaching and credit pulls.

4)  Homeownership and Foreclosure Prevention support is still needed to ensure that people do not lose their homes. The Foreclosure Prevention Team works with partner agencies to host community events, workshops and have developed written materials on the mediation process for both counselors and homeowners; Homeowner’s Guide to Foreclosure Mediation.

The Foreclosure Prevention Team also created an 78-page reference, Washington Foreclosure Prevention Resource Guide: A Tool to Educate Homeowners about the Foreclosure Process.  The guide is updated and reviewed by the Foreclosure Prevention Team to help homeowners who are at risk of default or are trying to modify their loans.

5)  Integration of Financial Empowerment into other Service Systems
In 2011 the FEN developed Change Counts!™ A Financial Empowerment Workshop as a way to  support organizations in integrating financial empowerment into their service delivery.

The workshop was part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) 2012 national field scan and 2013 publication, Financial empowerment training for social service programs.

Change Counts! monthly newsletter and website at www.everyoneiswelcome.org is a regional resource to assist frontline staff in accessing credible referral resources and training opportunities. It is an essential tool in building a high-quality; accessible system of interconnected agencies offering financial empowerment services.

Financial Empowerment Training Task Force There is a growing need to expand workshop offerings and retain qualified trainers to ensure the sustainability of ongoing financial training for nonprofit professionals in Washington state.

New in 2018, the regional Task Force’s objective is to vet existing curricula, develop criteria and an application process for trainers, review and recommend workshop pricing strategies and recommendations for ongoing financial education development for professionals in the field.

Task Force members include: Liz Myntti-Lower Columbia Cap, Devin Stubblefield-The Prosperty Agenda, Allison Maluchnik-ABC of Mason County, Becky House-American Financial Solutions and Lydia Assefa Dawson-King County Housing Authority.

Also new in 2018 is our prototype Mobile App highlighting regional resources in 20 languages.  It is currently being beta tested.