Learning Partnership Expands Financial Capability Services to Almost 36,000 People

In September 2016, Prosperity Now concluded the Community Financial Empowerment Learning Partnership—an 18-month project with seven cohorts of organizations focused on expanding, improving and aligning financial capability services to better serve their communities. The Learning Partnership, which was generously supported by JPMorgan Chase, engaged a range of diverse programs, communities and populations and ultimately reached nearly 36,000 low-income people.

Participants in the Learning Partnership included:

  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa (Sonoma County, CA)
  • Clarifi, with partners City of Philadelphia and Energy Coordinating Agency
  • Financial Guidance Center (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Massachusetts Community Action Partnership
  • United Way of Miami-Dade, with partners Catalyst Miami, Branches and the City of Miami
  • Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (Detroit, MI)
  • WiNGS, with partners New Friends, New Life and Metrocrest Services (Dallas, TX)

Prosperity Now provided technical assistance to these groups to build the capacity of Learning Partnership members to deliver financial capability services. As a result of working together, Learning Partnership members provided financial capability services to nearly 36,000 clients, over 4,500 of whom received financial coaching and almost 6,500 of whom accessed multiple financial capability services over the course of the project.

Each cohort improved their service delivery systems by training staff, creating referral systems with feedback loops and tracking financial capability outputs and outcomes. Learning Partnership members also facilitated local convenings with key stakeholders to raise awareness and build interest in integrating financial capability services and expanding economic opportunity in their communities.

When Prosperity Now took on this project, we knew there would not be a one-size-fits-all approach to integration that would work. That's why we spent time working with each Learning Partnership member to deepen our understanding of their organizations and the communities they were aiming to serve. We worked with participants to assess the many approaches to integrating financial capability services and create a customized plan to best meet their needs, such as integrating within large multi-service organizations, co-locating financial capability services with partners or creating collaborative referral networks.

One lesson that will help us—and, we hope, others in the field—to better integrate financial capability services is the critical value of building support from stakeholders prior to and throughout the integration process. Several Learning Partnership members articulated that by intentionally developing a common language about integration, goals and processes with all stakeholders from the outset, they garnered strong support for the integration project and ultimately improved their outcomes. Additionally, the Learning Partnership revealed the growing need to share best practices around key challenges, such as the development of improved data systems, data collection for integrating across partnerships, or the development of more financial resources for supporting integration efforts.

The Learning Partnership was an invaluable experience that helped create responsive financial capability resources for nearly 36,000 people. Prosperity Now extends its gratitude to each of the Learning Partnership participants, as well as JPMorgan Chase, for making it possible for us to support these organizations and ultimately better serve low-income individuals and families.

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