Impact NOW Highlights and Key Takeaways

Impact NOW (New Opportunities for Workforce)

Financial security is critical to the success of jobseekers moving through workforce development programs. The Financial Clinic provides support to everyone from customers to practitioners to organizational leadership — we know that by empowering staff to address financial security (for both themselves and those they serve), we create stronger programs and a stronger workforce.

On March 16, 2018, the Clinic was thrilled to present Impact NOW, a free professional development opportunity for financial security and workforce development practitioners, program managers, employers, and stakeholders. We had a jam-packed agenda, covering topics ranging from personal finance, program implementation, systems change, and the future of work and wealth. Take a look!

“When we’re talking about helping you implement financial security into your programs, we do not mean you need to be expert financial coaches, we don’t mean you need to dedicate an hour of your time with every customer to this piece, and we don’t mean you need to be experts in finding funding for this…We have six outcome areas that we work on – goals, banking, assets, credit, debt, and taxes – those are huge topics. What we want to help you do is figure out where the red flags are for your customers.” – Alyssa Keil, The Financial Clinic

The Index Card: Take Control of Your Finances

Impact Now: The Index Card Personal Finance

Alyssa Keil interviewing Helaine Olen and Harold Pollock on The Index Card: Personal Finance

We began the day on page one of personal finance with celebrated authors Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack, interviewed by the Clinic’s Assistant Director of Services, Alyssa Keil. They described their own unlikely paths into the world of finance – Harold admitted to being both carefree and careless about his personal finances until a family emergency led nearly to a financial crises, while Helaine explained knowing little about finances until being offered a unique opportunity to write for the finance column of the Los Angeles Times and scouring the local bookstores to prepare. These paths led them to collaborate on The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to be Complicated, breaking down personal finance into basics that are easy for anyone to incorporate into their daily habits.

“What are the things that really get you excited? If you can focus on that, that is something someone is much more likely to execute. I’ll give you an example: One thing that people often ask me is should I save for my kid’s college or should I save for my retirement? The mathematical, official answer is really retirement…There’s one problem with that, which is if you’re a single mother and you have your seven year old daughter there, saving for your child’s college is something that people actually feel really great about. And that’s powerful. The best method of saving is the thing that will give you a sense of reward and accomplishment. Finding those things is often much more powerful than explaining to the person mathematically what’s the most optimal thing you should be doing.”
– Harold Pollack

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Breakout Sessions

There was something for everyone in our three concurrent breakout workshops:

Impact Now: Breakout Session

Clinic and Support Center Staff leading a breakout session at Impact NOW

1. Integration Options that Work for You. The Clinic’s Zoe Goodman and Alyssa Keil joined WPTI’s Bruce Carmel and Jenny Pierre to demonstrate successful strategies for integrating financial security building into workforce development programs and ways to overcome barriers like staff bandwidth and participant engagement.

2. Leveraging Approaches for Systems Change. The Clinic’s Haidee Cabusora and Darren Liddell joined NYATEP’s Melinda Mack and Seedco’s Alex Breen to discuss strategies for pursuing systems-level change and collaborating with fellow practitioners to maximize impact for those you serve.

3. Leading Your Team to the Next Level. The Clinic’s Jared Marling and Kate Reeves joined Support Center’s Lakimja Mattocks and Keith Timko to examine change management strategies to overcome barriers to financial security implementation, including gaining team buy-in and improving results.

“I work with a reentry population, and for our guys, not knowing this information could be the difference between staying home and going back to prison.” – Workshop participant

The Nexus of Work and Wealth

Impact NOW: Nexus of Work and Wealth

Panelists discussing the nexus of work and wealth

The day ended with a thought-proving panel discussion on the opportunities and advantages for employers to invest in a financially secure workforce, moderated by Ken Adams, Dean of Workforce & Economic Development at Bronx Community College. We’ll let our panelists speak for themselves:

Workforce development perspective – Tara Colton, Executive Director of Seedco
“The elements related to economic empowerment, self sufficiency, financial coaching has always been somewhere between mission central and mission adjacent. We’re founded to build communities and develop economic opportunities, but for so many reasons financial security for both businesses and the employees who we place in those businesses has become more crucial. It’s a critical asset to what we do.”

Employer perspective – Agatha Kulaga, Founder & COO, Ovenly
“Our retention rates have grown tremendously from the partnerships that we have with organizations like Seedco. We closed out a funding round last year, and it was the first time that we attracted a different type of investor. It was success in the sense that we developed relationships with investors that were value aligned with our company. Those are the relationships that really matter and will help us scale our business in a way that will set an example for other businesses.”

Business field perspective – Alexandra Visher, Managing Director for Strategy and Development, JUST Capital
“What we’re hearing from the American public is that workers are top of mind and the three things that consistently come up are workers, customers, and products, and all of these things are core to a business strategy which represents a compelling opportunity for companies to think about how they can do better.”

Philanthropy’s perspective – Leah Mayor, East Coast Program Officer, Asset Funders Network
“Making the business case but also the moral case that this is happening and it’s critical, and it’s the way businesses operate. My own thinking around this is how are we driving change, what are the drivers of change that we want to promote as consumers and as employees and as employers? There’s actually a lot of power there.”

Watch the livestream!

Missed the event but want to learn more? We are pleased to invite you to our complimentary virtual trainings, specialized for workforce development practitioners! Learn how integrating financial security building strategies into your work can boost outcomes: visit the events page for more information on upcoming trainings.

The Business Case for Ecosystems

Written by: Mae Watson Grote, Founder and CEO of The Financial Clinic

A little less than two years ago, we assembled a cohort of NYC’s most innovative workforce development organizations, and presented them with a simple, yet ambitious goal: We want to help you bake financial security strategies into the DNA of your organizations, not only so that its sustainable, but so it also accelerates your mission. In creating our first Financial Security Ecosystem, we sought to embrace, and ultimately propel “dynamic and co-evolving communities of diverse actors who create new value through increasingly productive and sophisticated models of both collaboration and competition,” which has come to define the concept in the private sector.

At the beginning of WorkBOOST NYC, we were certain that this “business ecosystem” approach could have a profound impact in workforce development, not only for the customers seeking their job placement services, but for the organizations themselves hoping to better understand the systemic barriers relating to financial insecurity that hindered the communities and households they serve.

Now, as we reflect back on what we’ve accomplished and how it informs our future projects, we’ll be showing off some of our “tricks of the trade,” and we’d love it if you’d join us this Friday at Impact NOW, a free half-day professional development opportunity aimed at arming workforce and financial security practitioners with the tools they need to begin this work.

Spoiler alert: I am proud to note that our partners and Clinic team accomplished exactly what we set out to achieve! Data collected from WorkBOOST NYC partnering organizations shows that 80% of job-seekers going through our program set financial goals, seeing their weekly income increase up to $34.43. On the frontline staff side, 55% reported that they feel very confident in reaching their financial a goal, up 20% increase from a survey conducted at the outset of the project. On the organizational level, 37% of the cohort raised money aided by the Clinic for future financial security activities and 62% revised or created new marketing materials showcasing their financial security work as an integral element to their programs. Armed with this data and more, I can confidently say that we proved not only the value of embedding financial security into workforce programs, but a blueprint for how to execute and sustain this important work going forward.

As our WorkBOOST NYC partners have amply demonstrated the “new value” of embedding financial security strategies, the Clinic is now turning to making the business case for the ecosystems that exist between workforce organizations and their employer partners — “sophisticated models of collaboration” in their own right — whose needs are so critical towards building the type of workforce we envision to be within our reach. Embracing this challenge head on, we’ve deepened our understanding of the challenges employers face with respect to turnover, scalability, and existing employee financial wellness programs, and our experience with WorkBOOST NYC has allowed the Clinic to produce a suite of employer-partner centric supports:

  • We’ve created specific tools in Change Machine that support casemaking and employer engagement strategies;
  • We’ve supported workforce organizations by providing detailed and actionable data collection, and analytics tools that they can use to demonstrate to their employer- partners that their program graduates lower the cost of the employer’s human resource supports, and;
  • Looking to the future, we’ll be closing out Impact NOW with a plenary panel fittingly titled “The Nexus of Work and Wealth,” because the panel will look ahead to field-wide questions, like how employers and corporations are promoting their employees’ financial well-being in their workplace. We’ll explore in detail how financial security helps build “quality jobs” and overall job satisfaction in workforce.

Where we hope to land — or rather, what we hope will come from this new sophisticated model of collaboration — is the pursuit of a labor market where employers see the interconnectedness of work and wealth building as not only a morally-just goal to pursue, but an integral part of their organizational culture that gives them a competitive edge in recruiting talent at all staffing and wage levels.

This is our vision for the future of work, so I hope you’ll join us, not only for this exciting free professional development opportunity, but also more broadly in strengthening our collective mission of building a more inclusive economy with quality jobs for every American.