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Reflecting on Financial Capability Month: Strengths and Opportunities for the Financial Capability Field

Reflecting on Financial Capability Month: Strengths and Opportunities for the Financial Capability Field from @prosperitynow
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This is the final blog in a three-part  series that highlights barriers to financial capability, strategies that build financial capability in a time of crisis, and how we should envision financial capability moving forward. 

With Financial Capability Month over, we want to take a moment to reflect on this unique time and the opportunities it presents for our field to emerge as leaders in rebuilding our economy.

Our communities are facing financial insecurity amid the coronavirus pandemic, and many of our partners on the ground have adapted to meet the changing needs for support. But with crisis comes recovery, and that is where the partners in our field—local community-based organizations that were designed to help people achieve financial security and build wealth—are best equipped to mobilize.

Strong financial capability service providers will be essential to support the immediate and long-term recovery of individuals and communities. This is because service providers in our network offer:

  • Trusted guidance. There is a lot of false and predatory information in the mix, with bad players looking to scam people out of their economic impact payments and tax refunds. Staff of organizations in our network help people cut through the noise and find the information and resources they need.
  • Financial support. Many organizations in our network provide benefits screening and enrollment. They know what the enrollment process entails and can provide information on savings penalties. Many are also providing emergency cash or prepaid card assistance to ensure that community members can pay for food, rent and utilities.
  • Advocacy. Our partners on the ground are seeing the struggles that community members face on a day-to-day basis and are advocating directly with local, state and federal policymakers to help community members navigate this crisis. They are also sharing with us what they are hearing at the local level so that we at Prosperity Now can advocate for their clients’ needs at the federal level.
  • Ongoing, long-term support. Our partners take holistic approaches to supporting community members’ long-term financial security. Across the country, they take different approaches to be responsive to local needs, from providing matching funds, to helping people establish an emergency savings account, build their credit score and purchase a home.

Prosperity Now and our partners are here for the long haul to support financial stability, wealth and prosperity for all. At this time, we as a field must be focused on helping to stabilize families, ensuring that food is on the table and electricity and phone service remain intact. But when the crisis subsides, we will need to focus on rebuilding in a new way—centering the voices and needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized in society—to ensure that preexisting income and wealth disparities are not worsened and all families can thrive.

Our vision for the future of financial capability programs includes a new narrative around services—one in which we see systemwide failure when we have individuals experiencing poverty and struggling to make ends meet, rather than a deficiency in the millions who are struggling. Programs that must be designed with this new narrative in mind, helping people navigate our existing systems and addressing the systems that keep people from getting ahead.

These programs should lead to innovative policies, such as Promise Accounts, that are informed by practitioner and client experience, and are designed to help service providers bolster the financial security of community members. Furtherwe envision greater collaboration among financial capability and healthcare providers. The connections among physical, financial and mental health have never been clearer and it’s time we design our programs, policies, institutions and systems to reinforce positive outcomes among all three.

The path to financial security looks different for everyone, and many communities face shared barriers. Our Scorecard data predicted who is being most impacted by this financial crisis, and these impacts will continue to evolve as we move through this crisis. This evolution will require new, responsive services to meet the distinct needs of individuals and communities; financial capability providers are experts at adapting and tailoring services, and they will be a vital piece of the broader ecosystem of policies, programs, and products that will be necessary to support building financial security in the long term.

We look forward to collaborating with our partners on the ground, lifting up what works and fighting against negative narratives that harm struggling people.

Originally posted by Prosperity Now on 2020-05-03 19:00:00

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