OUR STORY IS ROOTED IN OUR VISION FOR FINANCIAL SECURITY AT SCALE
From Mae Watson Grote
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
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. Before law school, I worked at the Legal Aid Society as a paralegal and welfare advocate. Working in the public interest policy arena during the 1990s, I saw how changes in welfare policy caused the number 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 appreciate that fixing their credit or getting out of debt were merely strategies for achieving their financial goals. 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 terms “financial security” and “financial development,” concepts that frame everything we work to achieve at the Clinic. Education is only the starting point; we know that building financial security requires access to a full range of training, resources, and services.
I founded The Financial Clinic in 2005 in the heart of Brooklyn. 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 over forty 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.”