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Mayor Celebrates Early Success of Nashville Financial Empowerment Center

9/19/2013

More than 500 Clients Served Through Over 1,100 Sessions in First Seven Months of Joint Program with United Way

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mayor Karl Dean today recognized the results of the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center after its first seven months serving Nashvillians. The Financial Empowerment Center, with multiple locations in Nashville, recently served its 500th client since opening on March 12, 2013.  The Financial Empowerment Centers also have held more than 1,100 individual counseling sessions since launch.  

The Nashville Financial Empowerment Center provides free one-on-one financial counseling to city residents. It is a program of the Mayor’s Office in partnership with United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. Nashville’s Financial Empowerment Center operates out of two main locations -- the Foster Street Center and Casa Azafran Community Center – as well as satellite locations citywide.

“I’m pleased that we have helped this many people this quickly with their financial matters,” Mayor Dean said. “Financial health and awareness can be critical to our families in Nashville. With this program, we are empowering families to take control of their finances, keep what they earn and plan for their own financial future.” 

Rosa Moore of South Nashville came to the Nashville FEC on March 18, shortly after the center at Casa Azafran opened. Since that time, thanks to regular meetings with her FEC counselor, she significantly reduced her debt by negotiating with her creditors and increased her savings from zero to $4,000.

“I felt like I was drowning in debt so much that I couldn’t sleep at night,” Moore said. “I called and got an appointment right away. After my appointment, I felt like I could breathe again, like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now I feel like I have a goal. I have a plan.”

During counseling sessions, counselors provide guidance on issues such as prioritizing, managing and paying down debts; opening safe and affordable bank accounts; building healthy credit; and creating budgeting and payment plans that facilitate savings. The program emphasizes follow-through and follow-up visits which lead to greater client success. Nashville’s program has been successful in this regard with 271 clients returning for follow-up visits.

Nashville is one of five U.S. cities that have received funding for Financial Empowerment Center programs through Bloomberg Philanthropies' $16.2 million investment in the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund. 

“The partnership between the Office of Mayor Dean and United Way has been key to the successes we have seen at the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center,” said Eric Dewey, President & CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. “Mayor Dean’s key priorities for our city directly align with United Way’s focus on education, financial stability and health – making our work together even more impactful.”

As of Sept. 19, the Nashville Financial Empowerment Centers have seen 529 clients and conducted 1,189 financial counseling sessions. The Financial Empowerment Center program aims for specific outcomes for each client – such as reducing their debt, increasing client savings and increasing their credit scores.

Longtime couple Willie and Birdie Eason had this to say about their experience: “To anyone out there who needs financial help, we are pleased to report that we are regaining financial control with the help of the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center. A personal financial counselor is here to help, listen to your concerns, answer questions and explain solutions in a way that is easy to understand. We find everyone at the Center to be courteous, helpful and knowledgeable. We are not ‘there’ yet, but we are on our way.”

Additional client demographic points include:
• The median net income for individuals in the program is $17,160 per year.
• 24 percent of FEC clients came into the Centers unbanked, meaning they do not have a checking or savings account, or any kind of relationship with a bank.
• 57 percent of FEC clients owe debt of $10,000 or more (excluding mortgage debt).

The Nashville Financial Empowerment Center is a replication of a New York City pilot initiative which has grown from six to more than 30 centers and helped more than  23,000 New Yorkers since 2008. The program has helped residents reduce their debt by more than$12.5 million and increase savings by more than $2.2 million. While initially privately funded, the Centers became publicly funded after their data-proven impact. 

Any resident of Davidson County is eligible for free financial help through the program and can make an appointment by calling 615-748-3620.  In addition to the two main centers, counselors also operate out of satellite locations across the county. Saturday and evening sessions are available. To find a location or to find hours, visit http://fec.nashville.gov.

Find the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center at http://fec.nashville.gov/, on Facebook at Nashville Financial Empowerment Center or on Twitter @FEC_Nashville. To learn more about the CFE Fund, visit http://www.cfefund.org/. 

About United Way of Metropolitan Nashville
United Way of Metropolitan Nashville seeks to impact the education, financial stability and health of Nashvillians through partnerships, innovation and return on investment. Last year the organization produced a direct and identifiable impact of $60.4 million through its 2-1-1 Helpline, Family Resource Centers, Read to Succeed Program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, Days of Action and Outcome-Based Investments. For more information about how United Way of Metropolitan Nashville is positively impacting the Nashville community, visit: http://www.unitedwaynashville.org.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies' mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg's charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2012, $370 million was distributed. For more information, please visit http://www.bloomberg.org. 

About The Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund
The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. For more information, please visit http://www.cfefund.org/ or email us at info@cfefund.org.