Coordinated by the Financial Empowerment Network 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).
- 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 the Financial Empowerment Network’s EITC/free tax preparation campaign. In 2017, the Network assisted United Way with outreach, resulting in 22,700 families and individuals with tax preparation services, returning $30.5 million in refunds, including over $9.7 million in EITC. They ran 27 tax prep sites across King County.
- 386 referrals were made to WithinReach for healthcare and Basic Food enrollment.
- 29% of all clients served received EITC.
- 3,429 households were connected to public benefits or asset building services.
- 6 one-day events were held to reach underserved populations.
- 727 individuals were referred for financial and debt reduction counseling; 87 credit reports were reviewed.
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 2010 the Network 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.
The Network continues to offer Financial Empowerment Workshops on a quarterly basis. Workshops include a sampling and a demonstration of financial resources and curricula, including the CFPB Your Money, Your Goals and the FDIC Money Smart Financial Education Program.
Since the workshop inception in 2010, staff from over 60 agencies have benefited from the training.
Your Money Helpline Resource Guide for Case Managers, Counselors and Advocates and our website assists financial education providers and social service case managers in understanding basic financial empowerment issues and in accessing credible regional referral resources. It is an essential tool in building a high-quality; accessible system of interconnected agencies offering financial empowerment services.
In early 2018 we deployed a prototype Mobile App highlighting regional resources in multiple languages that we are beta testing.