Seattle-King County Asset Building Collaborative Programs
Bank on Seattle-King County provides low-income people with access to affordable mainstream financial services, such as checking and savings accounts, and financial education opportunities. In concert with this initiative, the Financial Education Partners Network (FEPN) convenes members monthly to learn from each other, increase their ability to offer high quality financial education, and increase the delivery of and access to financial education resources to underserved communities. FEPN provides a monthly workshop and also developed Your Money Helpline Resource Guide to assist financial education providers and other social service case managers in understanding basic financial empowerment issues and in having access to credible referral resources.
Financial Empowerment Workshops offer technical assistance and training for frontline staff in social service and workforce systems to help them incorporate a range of asset-building services and assessment into their own case management systems. These workshops familiarize staff with free, local financial empowerment resources, while providing substantive knowledge about credit and debt issues their clients may face. Your Money Helpline Resource Guide, created as a comprehensive tool for asset-building and social services staff, is provided to all participants as a primary resource, and it is also available online.
Foreclosure Prevention Team provides assistance to those at risk of mortgage foreclosure by connecting them with housing counselors and providing them with the comprehensive Washington Foreclosure Prevention Resource Guide: A Tool to Educate Homeowners about the Foreclosure Process (in print and online), which includes a section for homeowners to represent themselves at mediation hearings. The Team is working with its partners to create a training for housing counselors in mediation advocacy and with the City of Seattle to address the problems caused by underwater mortgages.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Financial Fitness Day is an annual event that combines workshops, one-on-one counseling, and other financial empowerment services, offered by over 60 partners. On March 9, 2013, we served over 500 community members. 200 participants received and reviewed a free credit report, and hundreds received assistance in many other areas—accessing public benefits; applying for student financial aid or citizenship fee waivers; help in accessing Veterans' services; access to education and employment resources; opening bank accounts or taking out loans; financial planning; help with mortgage problems or buying a home for the first time; starting or growing a small business; avoiding identity theft; and accessing legal assistance on financial issues. More than 130 volunteers and staff came together to make this event happen. Flyers were translated into 5 languages (and outreach and media done in those communities), and interpreters were available at the event.
Much of the feedback requested additional events. We will be working with the Financial Planners Association on an event in the fall of 2013, and as well as the annual Financial Fitness Day in the spring. We need funds to support the signage, outreach and marketing, flyer translation and day-of-event interpretation, child care, refreshments for volunteers, program printing, and staff support to organize the event.