We envision a nation where everyone is financially secure. To make that vision a reality, we are transforming lessons learned on the ground into large-scale, system-level solutions and social innovations that will have an impact on working poor people nationwide.
The Financial Clinic builds working poor families’ and individuals’ financial security by addressing their immediate financial challenges and helping them set long-term goals to achieve financial mobility. We accomplish our mission through three areas of work:
- financial development, education, and coaching programs and services for individuals
- consulting services that build capacity at organizations working with underserved populations
- research, advocacy, and policy reforms that produce wider systemic change
From Mae Watson Grote, Founder and Executive Director, The Financial Clinic
I’m often asked about my motivation for founding The Financial Clinic, and why I’m devoted to finding solutions to help the working poor become financially secure.
As a young adult, I worked at the Legal Aid Society as a paralegal and welfare advocate, and then went to law school. Working in the public interest policy arena during the 1990s, I saw how changes in welfare policy caused the population of the working poor to skyrocket.
Reforming welfare had solved little; it merely moved people into jobs that kept them on the brink of homelessness and even malnutrition. And where there had been supports in place for welfare recipients, I knew that there were none for the working poor. As long as the poorest were considered part of working America, they had no advocates.
I saw that there was a need to help them access services and benefits that would enable them to manage and improve their circumstances in a lasting way. There was a need to help them understand not only how to avoid running up debt and use credit responsibly, but to build up their assets. Another key to change was, and still is, to overcome the systemic roadblocks that keep people in poverty.
Generation after generation, millions of working poor people have been unable to break the cycle of financial insecurity. They often feel trapped in complex, discouraging situations that make it seem impossible to turn their lives around, become financially stable, and build a better financial legacy for their families. The Financial Clinic was founded to give people the tools to free themselves from this vicious cycle. We coined the term “financial development,” a concept that frames everything we work to achieve at the Clinic. Education is only the starting point—we know that it takes access to a full range of training, resources, and services.
The Financial Clinic started in 2005. Today, our goal is national in scope: To leverage the one-on-one successes we’ve had with thousands of customers to produce large-scale change that will have an impact on millions of working poor people across the nation. I’m extremely fortunate to be working with a dynamic and talented team of professionals who are as passionate as I am about accomplishing this mission for the communities we care about so deeply. I’m proud of the transformative impact my team has had on the lives of the ten thousand people we’ve been able to serve directly and the many individuals and families whom we will continue to serve. At the same time, we’re setting our sights on the ten million. That’s our vision for the future.
Programs & Services
- One-on-one counselling that helps customers develop sound financial goals and habits
- “On-ramp” assistance with budgeting and banking
- Tax preparation and financial education workshops
- Legal assistance with bankruptcy, foreclosure, and consumer law
- A Fellowship Program that deploys a trained corps of college graduates as financial coaches in underserved communities
Our business-to-business consulting services are designed to build capacity at organizations that work with low-income people locally and nationally. We share financial development expertise that organizations can apply to improve the lives of those they serve.
Policy and Advocacy
Based on what we learn from our on-the-ground work with thousands of working poor people each year, we research, develop, and advocate for policy reforms and systemic changes that will remove obstacles to financial security. We build coalitions and partner with advocacy groups, researchers, think-tanks, practitioners, and local, state and federal policymakers to guide and support our policy agenda.