When people come to The Center for Working Families at the John H. Boner Community Center, they come looking for plenty of things. Help finding a job. Help paying the rent. Help dealing with the chaos that poverty creates. The list is long because the needs are great. Located on the city’s near eastside, the Boner Center is in the heart of some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
After meeting a staff person of Financial Foundations of The Center for Working Families, they’re asked to take time to stop and think about what they want out of life, and what would give their lives more purpose. It’s a rite of passage that many take for granted, according to Dean Johns, Director of Financial Foundations, but for the impoverished, it’s a process that happens all too rarely.
“Many of the people we work with are struggling so hard to meet basic human needs that there is no time to envision what’s on the horizon, or the time to develop a comprehensive plan to get there,” she says.
A nationally-recognized component of CICF’s Family Success Initiative, The Center for Working Families helps clients develop a vision and a plan for realizing their visions by providing “wrap-around” services designed to address those long lists of needs. Each plan includes job assistance, asset development and financial literacy, income support and ongoing coaching.
Assets Key to Overcoming Financial Vulnerability
For households, especially those with children, assets create a safety net when income is reduced or eliminated due to unemployment, a medical emergency or divorce. In the United States, 22.5 percent of households do not have enough savings to live for three months at the federal poverty level if income suddenly disappeared. And for the 41.5 million Americans, almost 24 times the population of metropolitan Indianapolis, living in households with no assets or even negative assets, a loss of income can leave adults and children in serious danger.
The Center for Working Families at Boner Center is one of six centers across Indianapolis focused on improving both income and assets. Overseen by CICF’s Senior Grants Officer, Angela Carr Klitzsch, the centers’ initial results are impressive. Though client net income is low, it has climbed by nearly $1,000 per person. Asset gains are even more impressive – climbing by more than $4,000.
“These are really tremendous gains,” Carr Klitzsch says. “Having actionable assets is the key to the American dream.”
|Clients of the Centers for Working Families don't just increase their income, they experience gains in worth, moving from negative net worth to positive net worth.|
From Vision to Action
Clients at the Centers for Working Families find the opportunity to create a vision for their lives and the help needed to work toward that vision. For Charles S. Barrett, the support he received at the Boner Center inspired him to write a poem.
Fifty-one years and I’m still around,
And I’ve become unblinded, a new path I found.
To care about my future, to care about me,
And to know there is love, all around me.
Another chance, most likely my last,
To see my future and to forget the past.
All my choices I must now make anew,
And before I act, think it through and through.
You can make a difference!
Our mission at Central Indiana Community Foundation is to inspire, support, and practice philanthropy, leadership and service in the community. We do that by: identifying community-wide issues; working with effective not-for-profits to address those needs; and serving as a philanthropic partner to individuals, family foundations and businesses who are interested in making central Indiana a better place for everyone.