One year after launching the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) Network in Kansas City, LISC and its steadfast partner Bank of America are helping lift families out of poverty. With two FOC sites operating and a third opening in fall 2014, the partnership helps low-income residents train for jobs, build credit, and better manage their money.

Through May 2014, 155 individuals have received assistance from a Financial Opportunity Center. The majority established realistic budgets, and some clients have found employment, improved their credit score and even increased their net worth. In the process, LISC and Bank of America have gained some valuable insight into the population that is being served. The typical client who is benefiting is female, over 40 and earning less than $10 an hour. Surprisingly, roughly 70% of all clients seeking help have completed at least some college.

“These numbers shed light on the new face of the working poor – many of whom are educated, heavily in debt and without stable and lasting employment,” said Stephen Samuels, LISC executive director.

For Rita (whose name has been changed to maintain confidentiality), a middle-aged single parent who is unemployed, FOC financial and employment coaches encouraged her not to give up. They counseled her on developing financial goals, budgeting and fine-tuning her resume. “They help build my confidence and remind me that I’m still important in the business world,” said Rita, who wants to build a more stable financial future for her sons.

Tammy, another FOC client who received financial and job counseling after being overwhelmed by debt including student loans, medical bills and bad credit, said it best: “Now, I want to build some prosperity instead of just trying to get by.”

Successful Private-Nonprofit Partnerships

Collaborative partnerships, like the one between Bank of America and LISC, are the foundation of many impactful programs. In addition to the FOC Network, Bank of America has partnered with LISC on housing, vacant property issues, crime and safety concerns and LISC’s successful Neighborhoods NOW targeted redevelopment strategy. In fact, the bank has been working with LISC for three decades to revive disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“Bank of America fully recognizes that it’s necessary for individuals and families to have the tools and capabilities to budget and financially plan for their future as these are important ideals which embody the LISC Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) model,” said Jack Ovel, Kansas City President for Bank of America. “Our assistance for the FOCs demonstrates efforts by Bank of America to help Kansas City’s economy improve as well as provide local communities with job training and career services to create and grow employment opportunities.”

“Ultimately, the partnership is about transforming the physical and social conditions of our urban communities so all individuals have the opportunity to thrive,” said Samuels. “There is nothing simple about lifting people out of poverty,” he added. “It’s not enough to build better housing and schools. It’s not enough to nurture new businesses or chip away at crime. We need to be tackling all those issues simultaneously if we are to create economic opportunity and help people live better. Bank of America is helping make sure we can do that.”

For more information go to the LISC Website here.