UWNCM will soon launch a new initiative to help local families facing economic hardship increase their financial capacity and stability. The Working Families Initiative – Pathways Out of Poverty will extend the successful Working Families Network from United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley into North Central Massachusetts.

The Working Families Network uses an integrated approach to deliver financial coaching and education to hardworking families who are struggling financially. The network is anchored by multiple Financial Opportunity Centers (FOC’s), career and financial coaching service centers embedded in local non-profits based on a national model by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

UWNCM will bring this network to the region by working with non-profit partners to develop FOC’s. We are currently piloting a collaboration with Making Opportunity Count in Fitchburg and plan to expand the network into Gardner and Athol. The centers will provide a range of services including career counseling, one-on-one financial coaching and access to products that help residents build savings and credit.

The network also features an advisory committee of representatives from local institutions and training and outcome measurement systems designed to create real impacts for those in need, entailing continuous monitoring of income, debt, credit scores and savings to track economic progress. Once the initiative launches, we anticipate helping 200 households a year initially, with a long-term goal of reaching 600 households annually, including many people adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As individuals and families continue to struggle with economic uncertainty, we are committed to ensuring that local residents have access to food, shelter and utilities so that no one in our community goes cold or hungry. But in addition to providing that safety net, we must also provide ladders of opportunity for people to thrive. This includes the tools needed to achieve financial stability: credit development, sustainable income and the opportunity to fully participate in our economy,” says UWNCM President Kory Eng.