A May 2017 report by Financial Finesse examined how behaviors over time can create a cycle of hindered financial wellness. The study found that Latinos nationwide are not faring well, with 49 percent in the “struggling” or “suffering” categories of financial health; this compares to 23 percent for Asian Americans and 26 percent for Caucasians. (African Americans are also not faring well, at 54 percent.)
Additionally, 66 percent of Latinos said they felt overwhelmed by their debt.
UnidosUS, which has a mission “to build a stronger America by creating opportunities for Latinos,” is cognizant of the need to generate collective impact around financial coaching for the community. That’s why the renowned organization in 2017 collaborated with The Financial Clinic (the Clinic) on a groundbreaking initiative called “FinancialWorks.” It’s also why they tapped MEDA to provide culturally specific, financial-coaching training and technical assistance based on the nonprofit’s mission is “to strengthen low- and moderate-income Latino families by promoting economic equity and social justice through asset building and community development.”
Time to scale
Even though thousands of clients have already been reached, UnidosUS and the Clinic are continuing to scale FinancialWorks in 2018.
The aim? To bring the expert perspectives of the Clinic’s financial coaching model to support Affiliates around the country for better financial health for tens of thousands of community members. The Prudential Foundation is generously supporting this work.
“Our hope is that FinancialWorks creates a path for families accessing services in the areas of education, health, and housing, to also have access to high-quality, culturally relevant financial-coaching services. Financial coaching helps families define actionable strategies to achieve their financial goals,” states Vice President of Housing and Financial Empowerment Lot Diaz of UnidosUS.
Through a kickoff event in Chicago earlier this year (photo), and especially now during April’s “Financial Capability Month,” the group is discussing goals to: join the field trend of integrating financial security; build more financial security for customers; accelerate mission outcomes; increase staff financial security; and enhance advocacy.
Such goals are anticipated to lead to some impressive numbers, by the end of the year translating to 30,450 participants being reached, 7,612 participants receiving light-touch financial counseling and 1,141 participants being referred to financial coaches.
The program strategy is to set up three cohorts comprising of 14 organizations with a lower degree of experience offering financial capability services to their clients, with the Clinic offering intensive trainings to the nonprofits to help them find effective ways to reach their communities through education about financial security.
Explains CEO Mae Watson Grote, “The Financial Clinic coined the terms “financial security” as a frame for everything we work to achieve. Education is only the starting point: We know that building financial security requires access to a full range of training, resources and services. By embedding financial security strategies into partner organizations’ existing services for combatting poverty, we remove the financial barriers and ensure customers are able to achieve their goals. ”
MEDA’s part will be training five of the organizations that could benefit from MEDA’s experience in financial integration. These are: El Centro Hispano in Durham, N.C.; La Maestra Community Health Centers in San Diego; The Concilio in Dallas; Chicanos Por La Causa in Phoenix; and Latino Network in Portland, Ore.
“MEDA is leveraging our longtime, culturally specific expertise in the field to provide technical assistance to five community-based organizations as they roll out financial capability in their cities. This type of capacity building and best-practice exchange is crucial among our nonprofit networks. And now, more than ever, financial capability is crucial for our Latino community,” says Director of Asset Building Programs Lucy Arellano.
A united effort
To keep a united effort front of mind and ensure that across the 14 participating organizations, the best strategies for integrating financial capability can be learned and shared, UnidosUS and the Clinic will convene numerous in-person trainings, monthly technical-assistance calls and conferences.
UnidosUS’ call center, based in Phoenix, will even serve as a counseling connection, by making client referrals to Hacienda CDC, Spanish Coalition for Housing, The Resurrection Project, Congreso de Latinos Unidos and East L.A. Community Corporation. These organizations — all well versed in culturally relevant financial services for Latinos — will then provide advanced coaching support to clients, on an as-needed basis.
FinancialWorks is a crucial ecosystem — an integral part of a nationwide effort to build assets in the Latino community and strengthen the community’s financial wellness.