Financial Capability & Matched Savings Programming
We help disrupt the cycle of poverty through financial education that empowers community members to create a successful financial future.
I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
I am over 18 years of age
My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States
Where are you making a difference?
East Boston, MA 02128
Focus Areas (required)
Business & Social Enterprise
Children & Youth
Development & Prosperity
Environment & Sustainability
Human Rights & Equality
07/01/1987 (program started 04/01/2014)
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)
1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.
Department Director Diana Franco: "I have been working for social change since a young age and, actually, since my first job, I have never worked for a for-profit corporation. My goal was always to seek out organizations that are making a targeted impact in areas that are ripe for social change, to ensure that collective action can make a real, meaningful contribution to an issue area. I launched our current Financial Capability Programming in April 2014, in collaboration with many other staff members at NOAH, in response to what we saw as an alarming trend in the Greater Boston region: our community members' inability to establish savings or build credit in the face of astronomically high housing costs."
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
We realized that housing instability is a symptom of a greater problem: many of our consumers have been deprived of the resources and fundamental knowledge necessary to lift them out of poverty. With continued expansion, our programming will help Greater Boston residents exit the poverty trap by maximizing household income, building/rebuilding credit, accessing safe and affordable financial products, and eventually amassing savings and assets.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
We meet our constituents where they are, and show them that establishing savings, building credit, and even investing are not luxuries reserved only for the wealthy. We teach participants how to find savings within their existing income, how to establish/rebuild credit, how to select savings products, how to avoid financial scams and pitfalls, and much more. The goal is to empower our constituents to lift themselves out of poverty. Our program recognizes that empowerment is the linchpin of change.
Our Financial Capability programming consists of three components: 1) Financial Capability Seminars (8-hour courses) that provide the information and tools our clients need to increase their households' financial capability; 2) Financial Coaching, which ensures that after our students gain knowledge and skills from our seminars, they have the necessary support and resources to put them into action; and 3) a Matched Savings Program that gives a group of clients the opportunity to match $50 (or more) of savings per month over a 10-month period, resulting in a savings cushion against financial shocks and a long-term behavioral change that will lead to greater financial stability over time.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.
A method that has proved successful in bringing more and more students into our financial education programming has been offering a free credit report to clients who complete the full financial education component. That report is not shared with the students until they come to their first coaching session. We begin our workshops by teaching students the importance of their credit score and how it can be maintained or improved. By first providing clients education about credit-scoring, we remove the fear element that many clients feel around their credit score based on their lack of access to tools for credit management. Once the element of fear is removed and clients realize that even with negative trade lines they can begin improving their score right away, we show them their full credit report. Fear is replaced with hope; hope is the most powerful client retention tool.
5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?
Our free, bilingual program combats the financial instability created by the extremely high cost of living in the Greater Boston area. Most importantly, East Boston is Boston's only Hispanic-majority neighborhood and our free services meet a specific unmet need in the region in that all of our financial coaches are fluent in Spanish and English and offer bilingual services. Our programming is client-centric with inputs/outputs entirely driven by the individual needs/strengths of the participant.
5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:
6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?
'NeighborWorks America Financial Capability: Helping Families Achieve Financial Health' is a program that addresses a similar problem. NeighborWorks America has partnered with us (and with other NGOs) to fund NOAH's program and to collaborate in increasing the financial health of our communities. NeighborWorks funding made it possible for us to begin our Matched Savings Program pilot. The project differs from others in that we have 100% retention; have set up special free bank accounts that our staff can monitor; and clients agree to only be able to withdraw funds with approval.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Since 2014, we have graduated 400+ students from our financial capability program. In 2017, we had 125+ graduates from our 8-hour seminars and one-on-one financial counseling. Additionally, in the current year we are also serving 30 clients through our Matched Savings Program pilot, all of whom should have $1,000 in savings at the end of the 10-month program.
Additionally, we see impact in stories, such as a couple that came to us as students to learn how to manage their business' finances. During our 1-1 counseling sessions, they expressed that without our curriculum they would not have learned about profit and loss, which then empowered them to regain control of their business' finances. Ultimately, many of our students come with no understanding of credit and walk out of our classes with a better credit score and the ability to successfully bolster their financial health and savings.
8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?
Currently, we are in a period of programmatic expansion after introducing a Matched Savings Pilot Program in January 2018, which will serve 30 clients this year. We offer a 1-1 match each month of $50 to their savings, ultimately resulting in $1,000 saved over the course of the 10-month program. Our Financial Capability program has grown steadily since 2014, but we feel that the Matched Savings component is the key to better long-term client-level outcomes and improved retention. Moving forward, we would like to expand our programming to serve more clients and offer a greater savings match.
8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?
Industry Standards (labels, certification, awards, etc.)
9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?
Our Financial Capability program has been steadily growing since 2014 and our organization has made a commitment to grow this program line in the coming years. We continue to research and apply for funding sources that will support our Financial Capability seminars and coaching, as well as help expand our Matched Savings Program. We have just received notification from United Way of Mass. Bay & Merrimack Valley that they will continue funding this work in FY19.
10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
The Homebuyer Services Department, which encompasses Financial Capability, Foreclosure Prevention and First-Time Homebuyer Education, is overseen by 13-year tenured Director Diana Franco, who supervises three financial coaches, two FT and one PT; additional staff will be added as needed. All coaches receive professional training in financial capability. NOAH's programs are overseen by a 14-member Board of Directors and our co-founder/30-year tenured Executive Director, Philip Giffee.
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)
Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)
Communities of color
How did you hear about this challenge?