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LISC knows that healthy, sustainable communities are made up of people who have living wage jobs and feel confident about their economic futures. To get there, residents need the skills to advance along the path of employment and manage their money well. That’s why LISC invests in helping people tackle all the facets of financial life—earning a steady pay check, budgeting, building good credit and saving for education and retirement.
Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) are career and financial coaching service centers that help low- to moderate-income people build smart money habits and focus on the financial bottom line. LISC has a network of more than 90 FOCs across the country, embedded in local community organizations that are trusted, known for their history of providing quality services, and convenient to where people live and seek out services.
FOCs provide employment and career counseling, one-on-one financial coaching and education and low-cost financial products that help build credit, savings and assets. They also connect clients with income supports such as food stamps, utilities assistance, and affordable health insurance.
The cornerstone of the FOC model is providing these services in an integrated way—rather than as stand-alone services—and with a long-term commitment to helping clients reach their goals.
LISC has learned that integrated or “bundled” services lead to concrete gains in net income and job retention. Research shows that FOC clients who take advantage of combined services are 50 percent more likely to land a well-paying job than people receiving employment services alone. In addition, long-term job retention—holding a job for a year or more—almost doubles when financial coaching reinforces the work of employment counseling.
The Connecticut Statewide program is currently assessing the feasibility of establishing a network of FOCs across Connecticut. This preliminary work is expected to continue into 2020.