Media Coverage | Pittsburgh’s new Financial Empowerment Center offers free advice and education in underserved neighborhoodsLeave a Comment
Some Pittsburghers grow up learning to make a budget and establish good credit. But in underserved neighborhoods, many people struggle to break the cycle of poverty partly because they haven’t been taught these skills.
“That’s a problem that goes from generation to generation, and it holds kids and young adults back,” says Henry Horn-Pyatt, the small business & neighborhood redevelopment manager for the Mayor’s office. “It’s not that people aren’t smart. You just need access to the right information.”
This week, the City of Pittsburgh and the nonprofit development group Neighborhood Allies are launching a new public service program aimed at closing this gap. The Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) initiative will allow citizens to schedule free meetings with financial planners to get one-on-one counseling on subjects like paying down debt and opening affordable bank accounts.
“We want to provide this service to people who would benefit from it more than perhaps rich folks would, and it’s going to make our society a lot more stable,” explains Horn-Pyatt, one of the project leaders. “It’s going to be good for all of us.”
These services will be offered at eight partner locations across Allegheny County, including CoLab18 in Nova Place, Focus on Renewal in McKees Rocks and Carnegie Library’s West End branch. A full list of partner organizations and services offered can be found here.
The locations were chosen for their centrality and convenience for the surrounding community, Horn-Pyatt tells NEXTpittsburgh: “I wanted to put this service where they already had to go for the doctor or pick up groceries.”
A full-time staff of four financial coaches and one supervisor, all of whom were hired and trained by Advantage Credit Counseling, will move between each location.
The program is supported by the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing free financial planning services to local governments and municipalities all over the nation.
Altogether, the initiative will cost $666,000 over the next two years. While the vast majority of the funding is already secured from the CFE and other philanthropic partners, Pittsburgh City Council is also weighing a motion to contribute $30,000 in public funds.
The motion was introduced by Councilmember Ricky Burgess today and will proceed to a vote tomorrow, March 20.
Looking toward the future, Horn-Pyatt says he sees the FEC initiative remaining outside of the city budget. To continue funding their operations into the future, he hopes to see large banks and financial institutions step up.