City of Racine to Provide Free Financial Counseling to Low-Income Residents

RACINE, Wis. – Racine was selected yesterday by the national Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) to receive funding and technical support to extend financial empowerment programming to low-income residents for free. The city is one of six chosen nationwide to receive professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a public service.

Cities for Financial Empowerment provides grant support, intensive technical assistance, and a vibrant national learning community to help local government partners plan, launch and sustain Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) for residents. At the Financial Empowerment Centers, professionally trained FEC counselors help individuals and families with low and moderate incomes manage their finances, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products. Housing Resources, Inc. and six other local financial institutions supported the city in applying for this competitive funding.

“We are delighted to have been selected for this assistance,” said City of Racine Mayor Cory Mason. Racine is one of six localities selected to receive a grant and intensive technical assistance to prepare to launch a local FEC through the national FEC public platform, which promotes scale and sustainability for the growing movement of professional, one-on-one financial counseling. The city joins five others in receiving such funding, alongside a network of existing FEC platforms in 26 other cities.

“My goal of revitalizing neighborhoods, reducing disparities, and growing Racine’s middle class are all intertwined,” said Mason. If we are to succeed at increasing minority homeownership and ensuring that Racine’s residents are financially stable and resilient, we must have sufficient local capacity to help residents build and repair credit, reduce debt and increase savings. This support from the CFE Fund will enable us to bring key partners together to do exactly that.”

First piloted in New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008, the FECs have worked with over 98,000 clients, helping them reduce individual debt by over $137 million and increasing their families’ savings by over to $19 million. The CFE Fund, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Capital One, the JPB Foundation, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo is working to expand into other local governments nationwide.

A CFE Fund evaluation showed that this program works even for residents with very low incomes and other complex financial challenges.

“Financially strong residents mean a financially strong city,” said Jonathan Mintz, President, and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund.

At the core of the FEC model is the integration of counseling into other social services, including housing and foreclosure prevention, workforce development, prisoner reentry, benefits access, domestic violence services and more.

“Increasingly, leaders across the country are turning to professional, high-quality financial counseling as a critical tool to build residents’ financial stability,” said Mintz. The CFE Fund is thrilled to partner with Mayor Cory Mason to work towards providing Financial Empowerment Center counseling for all Racine residents, helping them build stronger financial futures.”

“We are excited about this planning grant,” said Mason. “My office will lead this effort, in close collaboration with other City staff, community partners and local financial institutions. Working together, we will leverage this national assistance to dramatically increase access to free, professional financial education and counseling for Racine’s residents, improving their lives and our community’s future.”

About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE 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 in over 80 cities 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 www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.

About the City of Racine

With a population of 78,000, Racine is the fifth largest city in the state of Wisconsin. Racine is home to manufacturing businesses that enjoy world-wide reputations including SC Johnson, CNH Industrial, Twin Disc, Modine and In-Sink-Erator. Racine is also home to diverse cultures, a thriving downtown and world-class beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan. www.cityofracine.org