Polk County Awarded Planning Grant for Financial Empowerment Education
Thursday, October 18, 2018
October 18, 2018 – The Polk County Board of Supervisors and the national Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) announced today their selection to receive funding and technical support to implement proven financial empowerment programming in Polk County. The Polk County Board of Supervisors will receive support to bring free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a public service to Polk County residents. Eighteen local governments across the country are working to replicate this proven model.
Polk County Board of Supervisors Chair Angela Connolly said “there are organizations in our community who are doing a terrific job with financial literacy work and we are hoping to use this grant funding to better coordinate services and to enhance financial literacy programming that is taking place within Polk County’s case management programs already.”
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 country. 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.
The project was initiated in Polk County by a presentation done by Teree Caldwell Johnson to the Board of Supervisors. She shared information from the One Economy report about the income disparities that exist in Polk County. Ms. Caldwell Johnson said “We live in a terrific community but there are individuals who are not sharing equally in our successes, I am grateful that our local county government is taking this issue seriously and committed to implementing measures to help close that gap.”
Polk County 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 Public platform, 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.
Polk County 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; Baltimore, MD; the County of Hawai’i, HI; Erie, PA; Roanoke, VA; Rochester, NY; and Washington, DC. This new cohort joins 18 other local governments already working to offer FEC services.