Philadelphia and Clarifi Awarded Grant from Living Cities' CFE Fund

January 8, 2013

Bloomberg Philanthropies and Living Cities’ Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund today announced that it has awarded Philadelphia and Clarifi with a grant to replicate New York City’s evidence-based Financial Empowerment Center model. Philadelphia is one of five U.S. cities to be awarded a grant, which will enable the City to deliver free, one-on-one financial counseling by trained professionals to low-income residents by integrating counseling into the delivery of municipal services.

“The City of Philadelphia has demonstrated a real desire to help families achieve long-term financial stability,” said New York City Mayor and philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg.  “The Mayors Project at Bloomberg Philanthropies spreads effective solutions to challenges that cities across the county are facing. We hope through this grant that the effective Financial Empowerment Center model will create measurable change for low-income residents in Philadelphia.”

The Financial Empowerment Center initiative is the latest investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Project, the government innovation program that seeks to spread proven and promising ideas among cities. Through a $16.2 million investment in Living Cities’ CFE Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies will provide grants to Denver, CO; Lansing, MI; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; and San Antonio, TX, and enable extensive technical assistance to help each city replicate and customize the model.

“We know one of the key pathways out of poverty is to increase the financial stability of low-income households by boosting income, decreasing debt, and increasing access to saving and asset-building opportunities,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.  “By offering personalized financial literacy services to low-income individuals, we make it possible for Philadelphia families to move toward self-sufficiency and, ultimately, better position our City economically for the future.”

The City of Philadelphia received a $3.3 million grant to create Financial Empowerment Centers.  The Centers will open in March 2013 and will be operated by the Office of Mayor Michael A. Nutter in partnership with Clarifi, previously known as the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley.  Through this grant, Philadelphia will open two Financial Empowerment Centers and four satellite locations in areas with high poverty concentrations, low educational attainment, new immigrants, new entrants to the workforce and the working poor.  Philadelphia’s Financial Empowerment Centers intend to counsel 9,000 low-income Philadelphians over the initial three-year period.

Patty Hasson, President and Executive Director of Clarifi added, “As a nonprofit provider of financial counseling to over 600,000 individuals in the Philadelphia region for 47 years, Clarifi is committed and excited to expand its resources to support the Financial Empowerment initiative.  We look forward to implementing this highly successful model of one-on-one financial counseling to help 9,000 Philadelphia clients save and reduce debt.”
Philadelphia joined Denver, Lansing, Nashville, and San Antonio in receiving the Financial Empowerment Center grants through a competitive process in which nearly fifty cities applied. These cities exhibited the most thoughtful, creative approach, as well as committed leadership and strong partnerships for replicating the model in their local communities.

In 2008, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the City of New York would pilot Financial Empowerment Centers as part of a broad effort to test and refine new approaches to alleviating poverty. While initially privately funded, the Centers became publicly funded after their data-proven impact. Since the pilot commenced, the program has grown to nearly 30 Centers, helping more than 19,000 New Yorkers reduce their debt by more than $9 million and save more than $1 million.

Through the Living Cities’ CFE Fund project, services are delivered in a more cost-effective manner and better outcomes are achieved across the array of social services, by seamlessly integrating financial counseling into traditional anti-poverty efforts. In addition to financial counseling, the model has a strong focus on integrating with other services driving toward self-sufficiency, including benefits enrollment, family stabilization services, workforce training and job placement, housing, and other supports.

To learn more about the Living Cities’ CFE Fund grants, visit Join the conversation on Twitter using #FinancialEmpowerment.