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 launched in 2008, was the second in a national movement to help people without bank accounts access affordable financial services, including checking, savings, credit, and financial education. New in 2019 is the addition of Bank On Washington as one of our initiatives.
FEN supports the Bank On National Standards and works with local banks and credit unions to improve the availability of appropriate low-cost, low-fee transactional accounts. To ensure that these new customers are successful, they must also have access to high-quality financial education and counseling that will help them move forward on the financial continuum.
To that end, FEN supports and promotes a vibrant Bank On Learning Community and offers continuing financial education to public, private and nonprofit staff in the field.
As poverty continues to increase in the suburbs, we are reaching out to our suburban municipalities with high asset poverty populations in King County; Tukwila 34.3%, SeaTac 33.2%, Burien 27.0%, Kent 29.3%, Federal Way 26.9%, Auburn 25.8% and Renton 25.5%. (Source-Prosperity Now Scorecard—http://scorecard.prosperitynow.org/data-by-location).
2) Integration of Financial Empowerment into other Service Systems.
Since 2011 FEN has offered Financial Empowerment Workshops for continuing financial education and 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) national field scan and publication, Financial empowerment training for social service programs.
2019 Financial Empowerment Workshop Series Dates: Tuesday, January 29, Wednesday, March 13, April 24, May 15, July 31, August 28, & October 30.
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 Trainers Task Force
There is a growing need to expand continuing education and retain qualified trainers to ensure the sustainability of ongoing financial training for nonprofit professionals in Washington state.
The Regional Task Force’s objective is to vet existing curricula, review trainer applications based on established criteria, 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-Faith Financial Center, Allison Maluchnik-ABC and Bank On of Mason County, Becky House-American Financial Solutions, Carmen Marttila-Jr. Achievement and Lydia Assefa Dawson-King County Housing Authority.
3) EITC/Free Tax Preparation Campaign connects low-income individuals with free tax preparation assistance and helps 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 the 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.