We are thrilled to share updates from the first half of the fall season with you all. We hope you are having a wonderful fall yourselves, and invite you to read on and learn more about what we and our partners have been working on.
Director, Boston Builds Credit
Michelle Singletary, columnist at the Washington Post, moderated a panel at the Urban Institute in D.C. for an event earlier this month entitled "Credit in America: Myth Busting and Case Making to Expand Credit Building for Low-Income Americans". Details below.
Partner Spotlight: Working Credit
Working Credit's Model
Did you know? Boston Builds Credit has a partnership with Working Credit NFP, a national non-profit that brings credit building services to U.S. workers, at the workplace, and in the form of an employee benefit. BBC brought Working Credit’s benefit, Make Credit Work for You, to the attention of two Boston-based health care institutions, Boston Medical Center and South End Community Health Center, and both since adopted the benefit, offering it to all of their employees.
What’s involved? Make Credit Work for You starts with a short workshop on how the credit system works, after which employees can sign up for 18 months of one-on-one credit building assistance. That process starts with an in-person meeting, at the workplace, where the counselor reviews the credit report and FICO score with the employee, and then develops a Credit Action Plan with detailed steps the employee can take to build and sustain a strong credit score.
The Results Are Pouring In
Among employees receiving one-on-one assistance, 67% improved their FICO credits after six months in the benefit. More importantly, Working Credit documented a 24% increase in the number of participants with prime scores (over 660), which means they can access better rental housing, qualify for a mortgage, and secure financial products – such as car loans, credit cards and car insurance – at competitive rates.
Amy's Success Story
Amy Mason (name changed to maintain confidentiality), a pharmacy tech, is a veteran who was stationed in Afghanistan when she became the victim of identity theft. For years, she worked to rectify her credit, but it continuously fluctuated within the 500 to low 600 range. Amy lives with her parents, and faces a new journey ahead as she takes care of her father with Parkinson’s and her son with autism. Her ultimate goal is to buy a new home, but with a credit score of 578 she knew she wouldn’t qualify for an affordable mortgage, so she signed up for Working Credit’s 18-month benefit.
At the first appointment, Amy spoke with Credit Building Counselor, Niki Volz, who worked with her to create a Credit Action Plan with specific steps Amy could take to rebuild her score and buy a home. Following the Plan, Amy disputed incorrect information directly with TransUnion, got caught up on past due payments on a credit card she didn’t realize she had, and made on time payments on all of her credit accounts. Additionally, Amy reduced her credit utilization ratio on her credit cards from 87% to 13%. As a result, Amy’s credit score increased from a 578 to a 658 after just six months in the benefit. Amy now feels like her goal of home ownership is closer than ever. She wants to continue to build up her credit score in order to qualify for the best possible mortgage, and, thanks to her Working Credit Counselor, Amy knows how to do that.
Connecting with Local Employers Know an employer in Boston who would be interested in bringing Working Credit to their organization? Please contact Allison Kroner for more information.
Financial Empowerment Learning Institute
The numbers from the 2017-2018 season of the United Way's Financial Empowerment Learning Institute are in. Thanks to generous funding from Citizens Bank, over 224 individuals from 94 organizations received training on important financial empowerment topics, such as debt management and financial coaching.
Since launching, Boston Builds Credit has added two new workshops to the FELI lineup to provide interested partners with the opportunity to expand their capacity for credit building with clients. In August, we told you about the special edition of the Credit as an Asset training that included preparation on conducting a credit building workshop. In September, our partners at the Boston Tax Help Coalition held a four hour training on how to conduct the Financial Check-Up (FCU). At this training, 31 professionals learned how to conduct this light-touch, 20 minute credit counseling session. We look forward to hearing how our partners use this tool to help support their clients!
If you would like to be added to the FELI list-serve to hear about upcoming training opportunities, please sign up here.
Credit Building on the National Stage
Boston Builds Credit was able to participate in two excellent credit building events that took place in Washington, D.C. this September. At the day-long symposium, "Building a Bridge to Credit Visibility", the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau convened experts from around the country to further explore the problem of credit invisibility and highlight innovative solutions to credit inclusion. You can view a recording of the event here. At BBC, we were particularly excited to hear Credit Builders Alliance and Self Lender share more about their work with innovative credit building products (their session starts at 1 hour and 17 minutes into the recording of the event).
In addition, the Urban Institute highlighted the work of a number of our partners at their event "Credit in America: Myth Busting and Case Making to Expand Credit Building for Low-Income Americans". The panel included Trinh Nguyen, the Director of Workforce Development for the City of Boston, Bob Annibale, the Global Director of Citi Community Development, and Ricki Granetz Lowitz, the CEO and Cofounder of Working Credit. The panel was moderated by Michelle Singletary, syndicated Columnist at the Washington Post. A recording of the event is available here.
USES and the Power of the Coaching Mindset
Boston Builds Credit partner, United South End Settlements, was recently featured on Boston Neighborhood Network news discussing the power of the coaching mindset.Executive Director Maicharia Weir Lytle and Coaching Director Melody Valdes provided an excellent overview of how they have incorporated coaching into their work to support clients as they achieve their goals.
This same approach is integral to the success of the financial coaching network with which Boston Builds Credit collaborates. We highly recommend watching the whole segment here.
For a list of upcoming workshops on credit building and other financial empowerment topics, please visit the our events page.
If you have an event you would like to promote on this page, please email Allison with the details and she will gladly add it to the site.
Partner Spotlight: Share Your Stories!
If you have an event, program, or success story to highlight, please email Allison and we would be happy to share it.