United Way of Western Connecticut creates Financial Opportunity Center

By Kevin Zimmerman

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United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) has announced the creation of its Financial Opportunity Center and the partner agencies that will work together to provide financial literacy services to the local community.

The Stamford-based organization said that grants totaling $74,000 will be given to three non-profit agencies. The Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) will receive $39,000 to provide services in Danbury, New Milford and Stamford; the Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC) in Stamford will receive $20,000; and The Bridge To Independence and Career Opportunities (TBICO) will receive $15,000 to serve clients in Danbury and New Milford.

Each agency will deliver financial literacy courses and budget coaching to individuals in the AssetLimited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) population. ALICE refers to people who are living paycheck to paycheck and often struggle to afford life’s basic necessities.

The partner agencies have agreed on three main outcomes to measure success: improving the credit scores of clients, helping them achieve one personal financial goal, and ensuring that they adhere to a household budget for at least six months.

In addition, UWWC will launch in the spring of 2017 an incentivized savings program for individuals who complete the financial coaching sessions at WBDC, DVCC, and TBICO. That savings program will allow participants to deposit regular savings into a special bank account in order to work toward building savings for emergencies and toward financial goals that include education, housing, and transportation. Participants in the program will receive a monetary match toward their savings when they meet defined savings benchmarks.

UWWC funding priorities for 2016-17 were based on 27 community conversations and 520 survey results from residents from Stamford, greater Danbury and greater New Milford.

“Our ALICE report from 2014 revealed that 35 percent of households in Connecticut are struggling to make ends meet each month,” said UWWC CEO Kim Morgan. “Our investment in financial education and savings opportunities is a response to that report and our own community conversations. I am confident that if we can assist individuals through financial education and provide them access to desperately needed savings, then they will be propelled to future success.”


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