Alyssa Keil | Implementation Lead | The Financial Clinic
(Originally published in NYATEP’s Workforce BUZZ, October 30, 2017)
Here at The Financial Clinic, we know that financial insecurity affects so much more than the balance of someone’s bank account. We also know that anyone can make improvements to their financial security, and doing so can actually expedite other accomplishments. This is especially true in the world of workforce development, where a participant might miss an interview because they weren’t able to buy interview clothes or a Metrocard due to lack of savings; is disincentivized to keep a job because old creditors begin garnishing their wages; or is unable to remain employed because rent arrears land them in housing court that requires them to take time off work. The intersections of workforce development and financial security are innumerable, but very often, individuals must seek these two types of services at different organizations, making access more time consuming and less coordinated.
The Clinic’s solution to this is the financial security ecosystem, a holistic partnership approach that builds financial security for the working poor at scale and accelerates sector-specific missions and outcomes. In other words, we support organizations in different sectors to embed financial coaching in their existing programs, thereby increasing the financial security of their participants, which in turn boosts their programmatic outcomes. In addition to support with implementing the actual programs, the Clinic also provides support with fundraising, data analysis, and many other aspects of launching a new service.
Throughout the 2-year initiative, WorkBOOST NYC – our first full ecosystem – the most important lesson we’ve learned is that the financial security ecosystem can be successfully implemented in a variety of organizations. Instead of size of the organization, core program structure, or populations served, it is actually the level of staff buy-in that is most important when embedding financial security strategies. Additionally, though it would be incredible for all frontline staff to be able to handle any financial issue their customers bring to them, we have learned that this is not necessary – staff do not need to become expert financial coaches in order to contribute to the financial security of the people they serve. Programs can see vast improvements in their programmatic outcomes simply by employing what we call “light touch financial coaching,” which are a series of activities that build the foundation of an individual’s financial security.
These lessons are evident in the implementation success of eight different organizations in New York City, including CAMBA and Seedco. After beginning Forward Focus, a new workforce development program within their Brooklyn Homebase location, CAMBA applied for WorkBOOST NYC. In this program, total staff of 5 people, the financial security ecosystem has been implemented using a workshop model that aligns well with the rest of the workforce development services they offer. At Seedco, a national workforce organization, the staff have implemented the financial security ecosystem by providing light touch financial coaching on a one-on-one basis. Regardless of the organizations’ size, structure of services, or the age of the program, a variety of programs have been extremely successful in implementing financial security strategies because of the commitment of the staff.
The Clinic is excited to continue observing and evaluating the implementation of the financial security ecosystem within all WorkBOOST NYC partners, but it is still just the beginning. We hope to launch many more ecosystems with organizations across the country in the near future. RSVP to join the Clinic and Corporation for a Skilled Workforce on December 12 for a virtual briefing on an effective and impactful integration for workforce programs. To learn more about light-touch coaching strategies, check out our upcoming trainings, including “A Financial Security Journey for Jobseekers”, at www.change-machine.org/events.