The Family Success Initiative is based on programs and services that move families to financial independence by helping them build the will and the means to achieve self-sufficiency. Through workforce development, financial literacy, income supports and educational access, CICF is helping hundreds of families overcome obstacles so they can be more productive, better educated and more successful.
Poverty is frequently a measurement of income, but economist and experts suggest it’s also a measurement of financial capability. Without financial capability (the combination of assets, financial literacy and access to mainstream financial services), generations of low-income families – and entire neighborhoods – are guaranteed lives of poverty and hardship.
To break the cycle of poverty and provide self-sufficiency programs and connected services to move families to financial independence by helping them build the will and the means to succeed.
Historical Context: In 2004, CICF, its affiliates and other partners and donors began a long-term initiative designed to help families become more financially successful. We’re trying to stem the instability in our communities caused by increasing gaps in assets and income, low educational attainment, dangerous behaviors and poor healthcare.
CICF’s objective is to help families overcome the obstacles they face in order to break the cycle of poor results – including hard-working people who consistently cannot meet their family’s basic needs, families unable to save money and are just a paycheck away from losing their homes, or those who are already homeless.
In 2008, CICF became the local partner for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Making Connections Initiative, whose focus is troubled neighborhoods and helping families increase their earnings and assets as a means of improving those neighborhoods.
A Comprehensive Effort For Everyone
CICF focuses financial, human and influence capital to achieve sustainable, and replicable, outcomes for all residents of central Indiana in three areas: Direct Service, Network Support, and Systems/Policy-level Work.
Building Our Community
CICF provides direct services to the people of central Indiana through the Center for Working Families (CWF) model, job preparedness training and placement providers, and programs that increase savings and assets.
A Long-Term Approach To Helping the Working Poor
The Center for Working Families (CWF) is a best practice model that helps low-income families reach financial stability and move up the economic ladder. The Indianapolis Foundation has made a significant investment in the CWF network and provided direct financial support to fund four neighborhood centers that have adopted the CWF model – Southeast Community Services, John H. Boner Community Center, Hawthorne Community Center and Mary Rigg Community Center. Pioneered by The Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, the CWF model is a comprehensive approach providing a full range of services in one location.
- Gain and maintain employment and increase earnings potential.
- Increase income by helping access public benefits and earned income tax credits.
- Develop financial literacy so individuals have the knowledge and skills to increase long-term assets.
Hawthorne Center for Working Families
A single mother of two, Terri Stinger worked hard to support her family, yet still struggled to make ends meet. In 2004, Terri was forced to file for bankruptcy. Not long after, she began working with a financial coach, a service made possibly through the Hawthorne Community Center. With the help of Hawthorne staff Terri found a job and has since paid off over $2,000 in collection accounts accrued after bankruptcy. Her last credit report showed an improved credit score of 630. And not long ago Terri was approved for a $70,000 mortgage and closed on her home loan in February 2009. Hawthorne’s matched savings program helped Terri save enough to pay closing costs on her new home. Terri also completed a six-week tax certification class in November 2008, and she now volunteers as a tax preparer at Hawthorne Center.
Asset Development – Earn It, Save It, Grow It
Most low-income working families have insufficient assets to weather the emergencies we all face – an unexpected repair, medical cost or other unforeseeable expense. And more than 75 percent of low-income working families are “asset poor” – meaning their household assets cannot finance consumption for three months at the federal income poverty level (A household income of less than $22,050 annually for a family of four according to 2009 poverty guidelines).
The Indianapolis Asset Building Coalition (IABC) is a volunteer coordinating organization comprised of more than 35 financial institutions, community-based organizations and social service providers. Its goal is to increase financial literacy services and improve the financial well being of families in Indianapolis. For the past five years, members of the IABC have provided financial workshops and one-on-one coaching to low-income individuals on how to budget, save money, and grow assets. The Coalition, in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, has also provided free tax preparation services throughout Indianapolis for low-income families.
Network Support To Improve Services
CICF supports a Center for Working Families (CWF) learning network, and a results-tracking database and staff in order to improve the quality of support services and better serve people living in central Indiana.
Is Anyone Better Off? Measuring Results
Technology can help organizations assess their effectiveness – but many face common challenges that can prevent that from happening. For instance, site managers can make programmatic decisions and increase an organization’s capacity to evaluate results when they have accurate data – and know how to use it.
But community-based organizations often don’t have the technology or human resources they need. CICF works with community partners to provide technical assistance and training to partner organizations that adopt performance management and work with a sophisticated database.
This has led to three key achievements:
- Organizations have more capacity than ever to collect detailed “effort and outcomes” data through their frontline staff’s day-to-day activities.
- Organizations have access to detailed, aggregate reports about clients’ efforts and outcomes.
- Organizations now have more predictable variables, processes, and expectations about the role and use of data.
Affecting Policy and Legislative Change
Many of the barriers low-income individuals face as they work to become economically stable need to be dealt with at a macro-level. CICF takes lessons learned from practitioners in the field and shares that information with the public, especially those who influence local and statewide policies.
A Continuum of Supports
CICF has taken multiple steps to develop a deeper understanding of the workforce continuum, including gathering a group of stakeholders with a vested interest in job placement and retention. Discussions with the Marion County Workforce Investment Board and Ivy Tech, our local community college, helped identify the gaps between workers’ skill sets and available employment opportunities. They also helped indentify available funding for training and education, and the need for partnerships to provide holistic supports for low-income individuals. CICF supports partner organizations and the broader community in their work to identify shared results, create/monitor a plan to achieve those results, and enter and organize indicator and performance level data to track progress. All will help us realize our end goal of better-coordinated delivery mechanisms and shared performance measurements.
Learn more about the Family Success Initiative
Contact CICF Program Officer Angela Carr Klitzsch at 317.634.2423, ext. 146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.