LISC supports a national network of nearly 80 Financial Opportunity Centers in 30 cities. Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) focus on the financial bottom line for low-to- moderate income individuals. This means changing people’s financial behavior in a way that encourages them to make a long-term commitment to increasing income, decreasing expenses and acquiring assets.

The FOC model involves integrated services delivery (ISD) of three “core” services:

  • Employment Services
  • Financial Education and Financial Coaching
  • Income Supports Access

The Financial Opportunity Center model is not a distinct program or organizational entity, but rather, a new way for agencies to conceptualize and approach their work. As such, the model is deployed within the existing infrastructure of established, community-based institutions that have a track record of providing at least one of the three core services (and, in the case of most Centers, a multitude of other social, financial or educational services).

In LISC’s experience, neighborhood-based organizations have the advantages of convenience, familiarity, accessibility and cultural competency. They offer the trust and credibility that are crucial to establishing productive, long-term relationships with community residents. Across the country, a wide spectrum of neighborhood-based nonprofits—workforce agencies, faith-based organizations, Community Action Agencies, multi-service providers, housing counseling groups, prisoner re-entry programs and community colleges—have incorporated the Financial Opportunity Center model into their programming.

Financial Opportunity Centers are based on the Center for Working Families model originally developed and promoted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. LISC’s Chicago field office was an early adopter of this approach, having supported several community-based organizations in 2005.

LISC created its Family Income and Wealth Building program to expand this model nationally. Under the name Financial Opportunity Centers, LISC brought the CWF integrated services model to Indianapolis and Detroit; in 2010 a grant from the federal Social Innovation Fund allowed LISC to expand to 47 Financial Opportunity Centers in 10 markets. (In several LISC cities that were early adopters of the model, the Centers are still known locally as CWFs, though they are part of the FOC network and Financial Opportunity Centers is the national LISC “brand.”)

LISC is dedicated to helping community residents transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity — good places to work, do business and raise children. LISC mobilizes corporate, government and philanthropic support to provide local community development organizations with loans, grants and equity investments; local, statewide and national policy support; and technical and management assistance.

LISC is a national organization with a community focus. Our program staff are based in the cities and rural areas where LISC-supported community development takes shape. In collaboration with local community development groups, LISC staff help identify priorities and challenges, delivering the most appropriate support to meet local needs.

LISC is Building Sustainable Communities by achieving five goals:

  • Expanding investment in housing and other real estate
  • Increasing family income and wealth
  • Stimulating economic development
  • Improving access to quality education
  • Supporting healthy environments and lifestyles

 

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Integrated Services and Improved Financial Outcomes for Low-Income Households

Evaluation of 34 months of outcomes for 40,000 Financial Opportunity Center clients—nearly all of whom were in the bottom 20 percent of the nation’s household incomes—shows a direct relationship between the number and type of services and clients’ ability to grow their earnings and secure their finances. This 2015 report by LISC shows that 76 percent of FOC clients increased their net income, more than half increased their net worth, and 60 percent either increased their credit score or acquired a credit score.

FOC One Page FINAL

This one-page PDF gives the basic facts about the FOC model and approach. Useful for a handout to explain the program to anyone who is interested.

Elements of a Successful Financial Opportunity Center

This paper briefly highlights key design and operational elements of the Financial Opportunity Center model, based on the experience of LISC’s initial network in Chicago, as well as national expansion of the network over the past eight years.

Financial Opportunity Centers: An Overview

This four-page PDF gives an overview of the history of LISC’s FOC program, an overview of the goals of a FOC center and the network of FOC that has been growing around the country.