Financial Opportunity Centers
Helping Families Build Assets
In 2007, we introduced an important local innovation that helps low-income residents achieve financial stability and growth. We seeded the creation of two Financial Opportunity Centers, one in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul.
These centers bundle services across three critical and connected areas: 1) skill improvement, employment placement, and job retention; 2) financial coaching and credit building; 3) accessing income supports to help clients increase their incomes and grow their assets.
Due to their success, Twin Cities LISC now supports five Financial Opportunity Centers managed by CommonBond Communities, Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES), Emerge Community Development, Lutheran Social Service and Project for Pride in Living. More than 4,400 individuals have benefited from their services.
In 2014, we're offering two new resources through the Financial Opportunity Centers: LISC Twin Accounts™—a matched savings and credit-building tool—and an Occupational Skills Pilot Initiative—an effort to connect clients with more education and skill building opportunities that lead to quality, living wage jobs.
LISC Twin Accounts™ allow Financial Opportunity Center clients to take out a modest loan, which is held for them by a bank, that they repay monthly to build good credit. With every on-time monthly payment, the client earns a dollar-for-dollar match upon successful completion of the program. When families pay off loans, they have twice the original loan amount in their bank account and a good credit record—both important steps toward achieving financial stability. A case study on LISC Twin Accounts was recently completed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation.
Connecting residents to quality employment is a priority of both LISC and the Centers. LISC’s new Occupational Skills Pilot Initiative is supporting collaborative efforts among our network of Financial Opportunity Centers, community colleges and other training providers, and local employers. This occupational skills work focuses on career pathways in high-growth sectors, and particularly on “bridge” programs that help individuals gain the foundational skills and industry familiarity necessary for a successful transition into technical skills training programs.