LISC National
News

Greater Newark LISC Makes Major Strides in Financial Opportunity

4.11.2019

Greater Newark LISC’s (GNL) continues to strengthen its financial capacity work through our network of Financial Opportunity Centers (FOC). The FOCs utilizes an Integrated Services Delivery model combining workforce training and placement, financial coaching, and income supports in a bundled, seamless manner. These services are delivered one-on-one to the unemployed and underemployed through our partners at New Community Corporation (NCC), Urban League of Essex County (ULEC), and Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC).

As a result of our efforts in helping to build the financial capability capacity with our partners, both NCC and ICC  are designated as LISC Bridges to Career Opportunities (BCO) sites. In addition to job preparation and placement, focus on increased net income, net worth, credit scores, and overall improvement of financial behaviors, participants also benefit from contextualized academic instruction. This enhancement through fusing career training and academic instruction is proven effective in placing jobseekers in positions starting at higher wages, with greater retention, and with better long-term financial capability outcomes. NCC was provided with funding and training from LISC to begin this work in 2018. Now with a three-year BCO award from Citi Foundation, NCC and ICC are both ramping up their living-wage employment work through better preparing and connecting unemployed and underemployed residents in Newark to quality jobs in growth industries. “The designation of NCC and ICC as LISC Bridges to Career Opportunities sites is a valuable contribution to our strategy of preparing and matching Newark residents with living-wage jobs, said Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “This will prepare City residents for jobs in high-demand fields. 

Between these two FOCs, their automotive repair, allied health, culinary arts, family and child development, construction trades, and commercial driving career tracks will be improved by bridging career-specific content and adult education. Most recently, the BCO enhancement was featured in the New York Times as an innovative approach at NCC that showcased the impact of a creative but proven response to better preparing jobseekers for in-demand employment offering living wages.

In addition to the use of LISC Twin Accounts since 2017, an Individual Development Account providing participants with a match for every month savings deposits are made on time and reporting to the credit reporting agencies for increased credit scores, our FOCs were able to be the first in the country to add another useful product to their toolbox. We were selected as the first FOC market to run a rotational savings pilot. Esusu, an electronic adaptation of a nontraditional savings practice used in many cultures as an alternative to banking, provides savings among group members through the convenience of a smartphone app. Each month a member receives the entire savings pot amount, while monthly deposits are reported to the credit reporting agencies for improved credit scores. The pilot enrolled over 70 participants into nine groups over a four month period through agile project management, all the while providing frequent feedback and enhancements to facilitate enrollment. The next phase of this pilot takes it to four additional markets across the country to ultimately determine the effectiveness and scalability of the product to the national network of over 80 LISC Financial Opportunity Center sites. Through the deployment of innovative models and tools, and in concert with our strategic partners, our financial capability work, has really enabled us to accelerate our efforts here in the local financial empowerment landscape.We are looking forward to highlighting more great outcomes and success stories during 2019.