Published on Dec 9, 2013
BOSTON, December 6, 2013 /3BL Media/ — MetLife Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation [LISC], a national nonprofit focused on revitalizing underserved communities, are partnering to help low-income families build a stronger path to a secure financial future.
The $2.25 million MetLife Foundation grant will help support LISC's network of 71 Financial Opportunity Centers [FOC] in 30 cities as they work with clients to develop long-term financial plans, find good jobs, manage debt, build reasonable budgets, and access public benefits. This grant is part of MetLife Foundation's $200 million, five-year commitment to financial inclusion.
MetLife Foundation's commitment will help fund several new Financial Opportunity Centers while also providing additional resources to existing centers in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and San Diego.
In particular, MetLife Foundation is supporting the expansion of a pilot program called Twin Accounts, which focuses on helping low-income families build their credit scores. According to LISC improved credit scores is one of the most important first steps in helping families increase their monthly cash flow, as well as giving them access to better rental housing, expanded job opportunities, better insurance rates and mainstream banking products.
Twin Accounts begins with a $300 loan, placed into a locked savings account. A client pays back the loan over a year, and for every on-time payment earns a 1:1 match. Payments are reported to the credit bureaus, and, at the end of that year, it is possible for a client to have $600 available [$300 saved and $300 earned in match] as well as a year of positive credit history. Further, with the regular on-time payments, clients will have improved their credit scores and accrued savings that can be put toward a deposit on a secured credit card, which can further build their credit. Through the program, clients practice positive financial behaviors while building credit and savings. Though only operating in a few FOC locations, the Twin Accounts program has shown promising results.
"Working with LISC, we know we can achieve our goal of ensuring that low-income individuals and families have access not only to the financial knowledge they need to make sound decisions, but also the tools and services that will guarantee them full financial inclusion," said Dennis White, CEO and president of MetLife Foundation. "This is an important partnership that will have a measurable impact on the lives of low income families."
MetLife Foundation and LISC have a long history of working together to make distressed neighborhoods better places to live. Past programs include helping build and expand the nationally recognized LISC Community Safety Initiative as well as financing supportive housing for homeless veterans through LISC's Bring Them HOMES program.
"The FOC model provides the tools and services that low-income residents need to stabilize their financial outlook," said Kevin Jordan, LISC vice president for national programs. "To date, thousands of clients with on-going FOC relationships have improved their net income, boosted their credit scores and increased their net worth. Last year, more than 4,800 clients found jobs through their FOC relationships.
"The recession may have been officially over for several years but its lingering impact is alive and well for many low-income families," Jordan said. "FOCs offer a bundle of services that not only helps them get back on their feet, but also provides the kind of ongoing coaching and counseling that show them how to build a stronger economic future."
LISC combines corporate, government and philanthropic resources to help nonprofit community development corporations revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Since 1980, LISC has invested $12.9 billion to build or rehab 298,300 affordable homes and apartments and develop 49 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. For more visit www.lisc.org.
About MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife's long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over the next five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. MetLife Foundation is affiliated to MetLife, Inc. a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit www.metlife.org.
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