Baltimore City Selected to Develop Financial Counseling as Free Public Service for Low-Income Residents

Mayor’s Office of Employment Development will receive support from Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund to replicate proven municipal financial counseling mode

The national Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) announced that they have selected Baltimore City to replicate the proven Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) model under the nationwide FEC Public national platform. The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) will receive support to bring free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a public service to Baltimore City residents.

The CFE Fund, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Wells Fargo, The JPB Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, and Capital One, is working to expand the FEC model to as many as 50 local governments across the map. The CFE Fund provides grant support, intensive technical assistance, and a vibrant national learning community to help local government partners plan, launch, and sustain Financial Empowerment Centers for their residents. 

“This CFE Fund grant will help MOED and our city’s entire workforce development network provide vital financial education services to Baltimore City residents,” MOED Director Jason Perkins-Cohen said. “It will enable us to leverage other resources and develop partnerships to help remove financial barriers to employment and aid those focused on building successful careers by providing sustainable financial counseling.”

“Local leaders know that when residents are in financial trouble, they need real, professional help. They also know that individual and family financial stability is key to community financial stability,” Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, said. “Mayor Pugh and Baltimore City are committed to a national movement to bring free, high-quality financial counseling as a public service to their residents; we are proud to partner with Mayor Pugh and the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development on this critical work.” 

The $20,000 planning grant will help complement Baltimore City’s financial education component of its workforce development services, including working with a citywide network of partners to align critical support services that lead to removing barriers for unemployed and under employed residents. Embedding financial counseling services will leverage the valuable work the CASH Campaign of Maryland and other partners are doing to help Baltimore job seekers access this important resource.

Baltimore City is one of nine localities just selected to receive a grant and intensive technical assistance to prepare to launch a local FEC through the national FEC Publicplatform, which promotes scale and sustainability for the growing movement of professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service. First piloted in New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008, the FECs have worked with over 82,000 clients, helping them reduce individual debt by over $100 million, and increasing their families’ savings by over to $10 million. A recent CFE Fund evaluation showed that this program works even for residents with very low incomes and other complex financial challenges. 

Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) offer professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service. At the Financial Empowerment Centers, professionally trained FEC counselors help individuals and families with low and moderate incomes manage their finances, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit, and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products. At the core of the FEC model is the integration of counseling into other social services, including housing and foreclosure prevention, workforce development, prisoner reentry, benefits access, domestic violence services, and more. 

Baltimore City is one of nine new local governments selected for this newest local government cohort after a competitive application process; the other partners are Atlanta, GA; Aurora, IL; the County of Hawai’i, HI; Erie, PA; Polk County, IA; Roanoke, VA; Rochester, NY; and Washington, DC. This new cohort joins 18 other local governments already working to offer FEC services.

About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)

The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders in almost 70 cities to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. For more information, please visit www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.

About the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development

The Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development is committed to building a strong workforce for our city by developing meaningful partnerships with the local business community and connecting citizens of all ages and backgrounds with jobs and pathways to careers.

In fiscal year 2018 MOED served more than 31,000 residents at our career center locations and partner sites and assisted more than 750 businesses with developing and retaining their quality workforce. In addition, the YouthWorks summer jobs program offered 8,600 young people employment in 2018 at more than 900 worksite locations. For more information, please visit moed.baltimorecity.gov or follow us on Twitter at @BaltMOED.

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