Focus on Financial Counseling to Make Good Financial Decisions
PATERSON, NJ – The Community Foundation of New Jersey today announced it has committed $25,000 toward the financial empowerment of Paterson residents. The funding will be in the form of a grant to the Paterson Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), which was launched in June 2021.
Through professional, one-on-one financial counseling, residents are able to address current financial challenges, many of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and also plan for the future. Three trained financial counselors host free one-hour sessions with low-income residents to assist in the creation of financial plans. While financial plans are individualized, sessions focus on plans to decrease debt; establish, improve, and build credit scores; grow savings; increase residents’ net worth; and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products.
“The Community Foundation of New Jersey was one of the FEC’s founding partners, believing in the vision of financial empowerment for Paterson residents and creating a fund at the Foundation to help activate the philanthropic community,” noted Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh. “We are now so very grateful for this investment from CFNJ to continue the good work of helping our residents realize the American dream of financial stability and upward mobility, which will have an impact for generations to come.”
First founded in New York City, the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) model has been successfully implemented in 26 city and county governments nationwide. The FEC model is based off of the belief that all individuals, regardless of income, deserve equal access to professional financial counseling to empower themselves in their families.
The program will provide particular value in Paterson, where many residents are underserved. Nearly 15 percent of households in Paterson are unbanked, meaning they do not have a bank account or utilize any other form of financial institution, which is over fifty percent higher than the state average. More than 30 percent of households in Paterson are underbanked, which includes individuals that have bank accounts but have frequently used nontraditional financial institutions in the past twelve months, such as non-bank money orders, non-bank check-cashing services, non-bank remittances, payday loans, rent-to-own services, pawn shops, or refund anticipation loans.
Since its launch in June, the Paterson FEC has served 157 Paterson residents.
“This proven model is a great example of how public-private partnership can fund programs to promote economic inclusivity,” said Nalune Francois, Program Associate at the Community Foundation of New Jersey. “For many, Paterson’s FEC may be an initial introduction, and for others it may be the only pathway towards wealth creation.”
The program is jointly run by the City of Paterson and the United Way of Passaic County. A true public-private partnership, it is funded by both the City and private philanthropy, embedding financial empowerment strategies into the local government infrastructure. Partnership and collaboration between local government, community-based organizations, and philanthropy is foundational for counseling delivery, resident engagement, outcome achievement, and program sustainability.
Those interested in joining in support of the initiative may contact Nalune Francois, Program Associate at the Community Foundation of New Jersey, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Community Foundation of New Jersey
With $800 million in assets, the Community Foundation of New Jersey creates and scales custom solutions for purpose-driven individuals, families, and businesses. The level of precision in CFNJ’s investment and grantmaking capabilities is made possible by a team of specialists who understand the unique contours of communities and can manage the scope of CFNJ’s giving vehicles. From creative projects that tackle critical societal or policy issues to scholarship funds, corporate philanthropy, legacy funds and donor advised funds, CFNJ manages nearly every giving vehicle and tailors solutions to meet critical needs. More than 1,100 funds grant tens of millions of dollars each year, including $100 million in 2021 in New Jersey and beyond.