Family Self-Sufficiency Initiative

Provide Financial Educational Services through group classes and one-on-one coaching to help families become financially self-sustainable.

Photo of Josie
2 3

Written by


  • 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


  • Choose not to respond

Where are you making a difference?

Colorado: Pueblo 81001, 81003, 81004. 81005, 81006, 81007, 81008 Colorado: Avondale 81022 Colorado: Boone 81025 Colorado: Colorado Springs 80106, 80132, 80133, 80808, 80809, 80817, 80819, 80829, 80831 - 80833, 80840, 80864, 80902 - 80930, 80938, 80939, 80951

Focus Areas (required)

  • Business & Social Enterprise
  • Civic Engagement
  • Development & Prosperity
  • Environment & Sustainability

Date Started

August 8, 1977

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)


  • $1m - $5m

Website or social media URL(s) (optional)

Twitter URL

Facebook URL

LinkedIn URL

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.

Neighborhood Housing Services of Pueblo (NHS) was founded in 1977 to be a catalyst for preventing or reversing neighborhood decline, increasing homeownership opportunities, and developing a greater sense of neighborhood pride. We have strengthened our agency by becoming a national organization of NeighborWorks America and achieving CHFA certification to provide homebuyer education classes (HBE). We have transitioned from a one-on-one credit counseling service to a one-on-one coaching program designed to take our customers out of financial crisis and into financial self-sustainability. Our expansion includes strengthening and adding major lines of businesses: Education, Lending, and Real Estate Development to create other sources of revenue.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

We believe education will result in more stable homes throughout our targeted market, which can be measured as homes purchased, opened savings accounts, started life-insurance or retirement contributions. Customers who gain the tools and skills needed to be financially confident will avoid future financial crisis. They will empower them to can begin their journey to self-sustainability.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Providing education to individuals and families in financial competence, (the knowledge, skill and ability to make sound financial decisions), financial capability (the ability and opportunity to utilize quality financial products and services) and financial confidence (having self-reliance to make ongoing “best choices” for oneself given resources specific to one’s situation as life changes overtime) will enable our customers to achieve self-sustainability.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.

Our Financial Fitness class teaches the basic skills and tools to create a foundation of financial self-sustainability. Our one-on-one coaching helps our customer to develop a personalized spending plan to address their individual circumstances and a plan of action to reach their future goals with continued support when needed. A young couple came in for one-on-one coaching on a referral from the Housing Authority. The Housing Authority let them know that they were eligible to purchase a home in conjunction with their Section 8 program. They had no credit score, a few outstanding collections, and no money in savings. After attending the Financial Fitness class, they created a spending plan, and action plan which helped them attack their collections, begin savings, and establish credit. Fifteen months later they were preapproved to purchase their home.

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?

NeighborWorks® Southern Colorado (NWSOCO) performs market outreach to prospective clients by utilizing print ads, tv ads, radio announcments at various radio stations, and press releases in the Pueblo and Colorado Springs newspaper. We have been and will continue to partner with Housing Authority, the Department of Social Services, Black Hills Energy, and Pueblo Community College. NWSOCO flyers are sent electronically to lenders, realtors, and Pueblo and Colorado Springs Chambers of Commerce.

5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:

  • ability
  • geography
  • work status
  • race/ethnicity
  • gender
  • age - elder
  • socio-economic class

6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

NeighborWorks® Southern Colorado is the only agency in Pueblo and El Paso County offering the full cycle of homeownership programs from: Financial Fitness (capability), to one-on-one coaching to Home Buyer Education to Post Purchase group classes and Foreclosure mitigation. NWSOCO is the only non-profit agency in Pueblo and El Paso Counties that make homeownership services their primary focus. NWSOCO is the only organization in the Southern Colorado territory doing affordable housing development with the goal of selling homes and encouraging homeowners.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

During Fiscal Year 2017, NeighborWorks® Southern Colorado educated 107 families in financial capabilities and 795 families in homebuyer education, which resulted in 591 home purchases, totaling $101,300,000 invested in the local communities of Southern Colorado. Additionally, between 2015 and 2017 NWSOCO built three (3) new homes, rehabilitated one purchased property and one of NWSOCO’s owned rental properties resulting in five (5) home sales in the County of Pueblo. My name is Lisa Suarez. The Financial Fitness class and my one-on-one coaching helped me review my credit, establish a budget, and develop an action plan to purchase a home. Through this program I was able to improve my credit score, reduce my credit, save money, and achieve my goal of homeownership.

8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?

In 2017 we changed our name from Neighborworks of Pueblo to NeighborWorks Southern Colorado to match territory expansion into the surrounding communities of Southern Colorado which includes El Paso County. We have developed large scale partnerships with the Chambers of Commerce in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, Greccio Housing, El Pomar Foundation, Black Hills Energy, Xcel Energy, the Department of Social Services, the Housing Authority, realtors, and lenders. Our counselors/educators are required to maintain certifications, are obtaining HUD Counselor Certification, on ongoing training.

8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?

  • Organizational Growth
  • Large Scale Partnerships
  • Organizing Conferences
  • Trainings, Consultation
  • Federations, Associations
  • Open Sourcing
  • Campaigns
  • Industry Standards (labels, certification, awards, etc.)

9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We offer sponsorship opportunities to our community partners for Financial Fitness Classes. We charge a minimal fee for our initial one-on-one coaching appointment. We are always actively seeking grant opportunities and business partnerships. We have developed several lines of businesses that will generate revenue and support our agency while reducing our reliance on grant funding. The income we make helps to cover the educational services we offer.

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?

Our 13 person staff equates to 11.5 FTE's. Three of our staff are directly involved in education. Cynthia Johnson, Homeownership Advisor –our one-one-one coach. Josephine Gallegos, Homeownership Educator – educator. Elizabeth Vigil, Administrative Coordinator – provides administrative support. Our Education Committee consists of four community members from various areas of expertise, lending, realty, education, and construction.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French)
  • Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian)
  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani)
  • Native American or Alaska Native (for example: Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, Mayan, Aztec, Native Village of Barrow Inupial Traditional Government, Nome Eskimo Community)
  • Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian)
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (for example: Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, Tongan, Fijian, Marshallese)
  • Self-identify race, ethnicity, or origin

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)

  • Communities of color
  • Disability community
  • Low-income community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Overall, would you champion this entry as a excellent example to move forward to the next phase of the challenge and become a semifinalist?

Yes, absolutely! - 25%

Yes/maybe - 25%

Maybe - 50%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 0%

Yes/maybe - 66.7%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 33.3%

No - 0%

3. Is this entry IMPACTFUL on financial wellbeing?

Yes, absolutely! - 75%

Yes/maybe - 25%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

4. Is this entry SUSTAINABLE?

Yes, absolutely! - 25%

Yes/maybe - 50%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 25%

No - 0%

5. What are some of the HIGHLIGHTS of strengths of this entry?

Connection to underserved community - 66.7%

Clarity of Model - 33.3%

Clarity of Writing - 33.3%

Idea Originality - 0%

Understanding of the marketplace or sector - 66.7%

Impact measurement - 100%

Impact Potential - 66.7%

Financial Sustainability - 0%

Team - 33.3%

Partnerships - 0%

Potential to scale - 33.3%

6. What are some of the areas for IMPROVEMENT of this entry?

Connection to underserved community - 66.7%

Clarity of Model - 0%

Clarity of Writing - 33.3%

Idea Originality - 33.3%

Understanding of the marketplace or sector - 0%

Impact measurement - 0%

Impact Potential - 0%

Financial Sustainability - 100%

Team - 0%

Partnerships - 0%

Potential to scale - 33.3%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Josie

Thank you for your kind words. Please let us know if you have any questions.

View all comments