LISC launches 2011 Financial Opportunity Center expansion program in low-income communities in partnership with Social Innovation Fund, corporate funders, foundations and community groups

10 May 2011

Contact:

Colleen Mulcahy, LISC Communications
312-342-8244 or cmulcahy@nefinc.org
Kevin Jordan, LISC Director/Family Income and Asset Building
202-739-9282 or or kjordan@lisc.org

For Immediate Release:

May 10, 2011


HOUSTON (May 10, 2011)- The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) announced today that it is bringing its Financial Opportunity Center model for financial literacy, employment services and public benefits support to scale thanks to a grant from the federal Social Innovation Fund, as well as critical private-sector funding.

At a launch event today, LISC announced the national expansion of its Centers to new cities and to new neighborhoods in cities that have existing Centers, as well as the expansion of some current Centers so they can reach additional families and have a broader impact. The effort includes 47 grantees in Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Duluth, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Rhode Island, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area. It extends the reach of LISC Financial Opportunity Centers to more than 50 communities and an estimated 15,000 individuals.

A $4.2 million grant from the first-ever Social Innovation Fund is a catalyst for this latest expansion. “With it, we will be able to help more low-income families reduce their debt, increase their incomes, expand their assets and stabilize their long-term financial outlook,” said Kevin Jordan, LISC director of the Family Income and Wealth Building program. “That couldn’t be more important given the challenges families are facing in the current economic environment.”

The Social Innovation Fund is a $50 million federal grant program administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and designed to fund innovative nonprofit solutions to issues in three key areas—economic opportunity, youth development and school support, and healthy futures. The federal program is intended to leverage significant private funds to help support the work.

Financial Opportunity Centers are also connected to the work of a core group of national funders that have a deep commitment to the recovery of struggling communities and the financial wherewithal of the families who live there. They include the Citi Foundation, Bank of America, Walmart, Annie E. Casey Foundation, U.S. Bank, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Open Society.

“LISC’s innovative approach of integrated employment services coupled with financial education and coaching services offers low-income families the support they need to grow their assets and build toward a more prosperous future. We’re proud to join with the Social Innovation Fund in supporting LISC’s expansion of the Financial Opportunity Center model especially at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to regain their financial footing in the wake of the economic crisis,” said Pam Flaherty, president and CEO of the Citi Foundation. The Citi Foundation has supported Financial Opportunity Centers with more than $13 million in grants in recent years, including $2 million for 2011’s expansion effort.

Bank of America is a long-time funder of LISC, most recently committing $3.75 million in operating support. In addition, the bank is supporting the Financial Opportunity Centers expansion with a $150,000 investment that closed out LISC’s Social Innovation Fund match, as well as underwriting the financial coaching training that will facilitate FOC staff to provide this critical service across the Centers.

“We know that the U.S. economy relies on getting people back to work – and that the growth of our business is also dependent on financially stable and economically successful customers,” said Kerry Sullivan, president, Bank of America Charitable Foundation. “LISC’s Financial Opportunity Centers deliver a powerful combination of services that equip individuals and families with tools and resources that contribute to their long-term economic self-sufficiency. We’ve already seen evidence of how the Financial Opportunity Centers create pathways out of poverty for thousands of families and we are pleased to help facilitate the expansion to serve more people and communities in need.”

Through their $1.5 million grant, the Walmart Foundation is supporting the opening of more than 10 Financial Opportunity Centers in cities including Chicago, Detroit, Houston, San Diego, Boston and Philadelphia.

“These Centers will provide the exact support needed by many individuals who are trying to re-enter the workforce and ensure themselves and their families a stable financial future,” said Michelle Gilliard, senior director of workforce development and education with the Walmart Foundation. “We believe our grant to LISC will help make a difference in the lives of thousands of people at a very critical time, so we’re proud to help expand this much needed work.”

“We are pleased to support this growing effort to empower families in economically challenged communities to gain the tools and the insights they need to improve their financial well being,” said Lisa Glover, director of community affairs at U.S. Bank. “We fully support and commend LISC for taking the initiative to expand their resources to give more families the support they need as our nation’s economy recovers.”

Financial Opportunity Centers are part of LISC’s Building Sustainable Communities approach to comprehensive community development. “We can’t help communities recover from economic distress if we don’t help families achieve financial stability,” commented Michael Rubinger, LISC president and CEO. “Financial Opportunity Centers are central to our overall efforts to help raise the standards of living in struggling communities, so residents can walk down safe streets, send their kids to good schools, play in gang-free parks, shop at their neighborhood grocery store, find jobs within their community and plan for a better future for their families. These Centers can be life-changing, and we are so pleased to be able to expand this program to so many new people and places.”

About LISC

LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has raised $11.1 billion to build or rehab 277,000 affordable homes and develop 44 million square feet of retail, community and educational space nationwide. LISC support has leveraged nearly $33.9 billion in total development activity. For more information, visit www.lisc.org.

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> Family Income and Wealth Building webpage

Article Type: Press Release