An independent study has found that Financial Opportunity Center clients, who access a range of services, have more success meeting their financial goals than people in programs offering employment assistance alone. Their gains include landing and keeping a job, growing credit and increasing annual earnings. The research findings will help LISC refine and propel its financial stability work on behalf of low-income Americans.
No single strategy combats all the complex and deeply-rooted factors of poverty. This holds true for revitalizing neighborhoods, and it’s true for individual people struggling to balance a household budget.
To improve the financial wellbeing of low-income families, LISC has adopted a multi-pronged approach. Through our network of 80 Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) in more than 30 cities across the country, we help people get steady, living-wage employment, boost their credit rating and increase net income and net worth. FOCs do this by offering three main services, bundled together: one-on-one financial counseling, employment assistance, and help accessing public benefits that supplement income from work.
Now, we have promising new evidence that this strategy works: An independent study by the Economic Mobility Corporation (Mobility) has found that FOC participants have greater success in meeting their financial goals than do people in programs offering employment assistance alone.
To reach its conclusions, the Mobility study, which was made possible by a grant from the Social Innovation Fund, compared data from five FOCs and five publicly-funded workforce centers in Chicago. Researchers looked at outcomes for FOC clients who had been involved with the program for two years, and contrasted them with a similar group of job seekers who sought services from the city’s workforce centers over a comparable time period.
Data have driven the development and implementation of the FOC model from the beginning. This study raises the bar for our work, giving us more rigorous evidence of the impact of FOCs, and greater insight into how to continue refining them.
Our summary of the Mobility study