City Resource Offers Financial Counseling as a Free Public Service to City Residents

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BALTIMORE, MD. (Wednesday, September 21, 2022) - Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott in partnership with the national Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), M&T Bank, and the Mayor's Office of Employment Development (MOED), celebrated the work of the City's Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) - a vital tool of the Scott Administration's work to enhance financial mobility and ensure equitable economic growth. The Center offers professional, one-on-one financial counseling and coaching as a free public service to Baltimore City residents.

Since January 2021, professionally trained FEC counselors have helped 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.

The integration of financial counseling into other social services, such as housing and foreclosure prevention, workforce development, reentry support, benefits access, domestic violence services, and additional support resources, is at the core of the FEC model. Baltimore's Financial Empowerment Center falls under the Mayor's Office of Employment Development umbrella and is supported by the CFE Fund and other local partners such as CASH Campaign of Maryland and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City.

In recognition of the importance of financial counseling services to the community, M&T Bank has donated $82,000 to expand the Baltimore City Financial Empowerment Center. These funds will be used to hire a third financial counselor and cover their salary, benefits, training and equipment. MOED is very excited to be able to serve more residents.

"Our Financial Empowerment Center has been a key tool as we work to promote financial mobility and unlock the economic potential of our communities," said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. "I want to thank all our partners for facilitating this crucial work. Since its inception, Baltimore's FEC has provided over 850 free financial counseling sessions that have helped residents reduce their debt by over $360,000 and increase their savings by almost $75,000."

"Local leaders know first-hand the connection between family financial stability and community financial stability - and this connection is especially important during the current crisis," said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. "Mayor Scott and the City of Baltimore are part of a growing national movement to bring free, high-quality financial counseling as a public service to their residents; we are proud to partner with Mayor Scott to help residents navigate the financial impact of COVID-19 and work towards a stronger financial future."

"MOED is working tirelessly to help our residents get and stay on a path of economic recovery. By offering critical financial counseling and services at no cost to them or their families, the FEC has helped residents reduce debt by over $360,000 since it launched," said Jason Perkins-Cohen, Director of the Mayor's Office of Employment Development. "The COVID-19 pandemic left many in incredibly tough financial situations, and the partnership with the CFE Fund and local community organizations allows us to help those most in need reach financial stability and security."

"M&T Bank is honored to work alongside the Baltimore City Mayor's Office of Employment Development and Cities for Financial Empowerment to help provide one-on-one financial counseling to city residents who need it most," said Augie Chiasera, M&T's Regional President for Greater Baltimore. "There's nothing more important to the future of the city than the financial wellness and stability of its residents, and M&T is proud to contribute to the expansion of services that help meet the community's needs."

First piloted in New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008, FECs across the country have worked with almost 133,000 clients, helping them reduce individual debt by over $192 million and increasing their families' savings by close to $38 million. In addition, a CFE Fund evaluation showed that this program works even for residents with very low incomes and other complex financial challenges. Baltimore City is one of several dozen local governments working to launch or have already launched a local FEC initiative. The Baltimore City FEC is supported by the CFE Fund and M&T Bank.

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