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What is the Center for Working Families?

  • An integrated service delivery (ISD) model that focuses on three aspects key to helping families become financially stable:

- Connections to employment/training opportunities for as along as necessary

- One-on-one financial coaching by full-time experts with experience in money management

- Access to income supports such as tax credits, health insurance programs and food stamps

  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation developed the model for Center for Working Families (CWF)


What is the goal of the Greater Detroit CWF?

  • The goal is simple: to offer residents bundled financial services that, taken together, would increase their income, build financial assets and help improve their quality of life.


How does the CWF model achieve success? 

  • Through the intentional integration or “bundling” of the three core services – employment assistance, financial coaching and access to public benefits

  • Early analysis from the Casey Foundation based upon actual data by families showed that when a client receives integrated or “bundled” services they could experience an increase of nearly $18,000 in net income after three years

  • The CWF approach is infused within organizations which already provide one or more of the core services. CWF provides an overlay onto these existing programs and staffing structure to implement the ISD model



What is different about the Centers for Working, CWF, (also known as Financial Opportunities Center) model from other financial literacy programs? There are distinct differences that set apart the model from others:

  • It is a comprehensive model that goes beyond financial literacy. The CWF approach employs a three-pronged approach to increasing family income and wealth by providing financial literacy and individual financial coaching, job training and development, and public benefits access in a bundled fashion at a single neighborhood-based site.

  • Financial coaches develop long-term relationships with participants who are committed to changing their financial behaviors. Coaches help participants create an individual plan, monitor progress and pitfalls, and encourage participants to stay on track.

  • Each CWF site is located within an urban neighborhood and is operated by trusted community organizations that are familiar to residents and understand the needs of the neighborhood.

  • Each CWF site commits to rigourous data collection and anaylsis, data drives the integrated service delivery approach.  Social Solutions' Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) software is utilized to track client improvement and document progress over time.

  • The CWF works!  Nationally, seventy-three percent of clients that stick with the program see an increase in net worth. It has helped nearly 12,500 people get jobs; enabled nearly 10,000 to increase their net income; and helped more than 6,000 people improve their credit scores – key to greater and more affordable economic options for their families.


How did Detroit LISC and UWSEM come together? 

  • In 2008, Detroit LISC and UWSEM came together with a shared vision of helping working families in Greater Detroit get out of poverty.  Pooling resources and expertiese, Detroit LISC and UWSEM brought the successful and proven Center for Working Families model to Detroit.  With seed funding from national LISC and The Skillman Foundation, the Greater Detroit CWF was developed.


What are the roles of LISC and UWSEM in the Greater Detroit CWF launch and operation?

  • Detroit LISC and UWSEM bring a robust set of relationships and resources to serve the region. Together, acting as the "intermediary" for the Greater Detroit CWF network LISC and UWSEM raise and invest base level funding for each of the sites within the network.Together the Intermediary provides foundational technical assistance and resources for sites to reimagine their organizations business model to assess clients holistically, connecting them to to financial, workforce and public and private benefit coaching. 

  • National LISC provides a comprehensive outcomes tracking software (Social Solutions - Efforts to Outcomes - ETO) to ensure that the CWF sites continue to meet residents’ needs. Detroit LISC and UWSEM provide technical assistance to the CWF site on the outcomes tracking software to ensure data quality.


How are the sites within the Greater Detroit CWF Network funded?

  • Organizations that operate a CWF are required to have core funding in place for their basic operations and show a 3:1 match for the requested grant amount.  Greater Detroit CWF will not provide funidng for start up organizations.  LISC/UWSEM anticipates the organizaiton will already have funding in place through its normal course of business that can be used as match for the model.


What kind of outcomes have we seen in Nationally? 

LISC has collected data from all of its 71 Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) sites across the U.S. to demonstrate that this model continues to work. In 2012, LISC data shows that on a national basis of those clients who consistently work with a FOC financial coach:


  • 73% increase their net income

  • 43% improve their credit scores

  • 43% achieve an increase in their net worth


Does financial literacy training really work in an economy like ours?

Yes, financial literacy does matter, but the CWF model goes a step further to help families achieve financial stability, defined as:


  • Sufficient family income for daily living expenses, to allow for asset accumulation, and to address minor emergencies.

  • Employment skills that lead to higher paying jobs or a smooth switch to a new job if employment is terminated.

  • Smart debt, with market-rate interest, that leads to appreciating assets (such as a house) or that can be paid off in a reasonable period of time.

  • A plan for post-secondary educational opportunities for children.

  • Realistic opportunity for retirement at age 65, with income beyond just Social Security.


These are financial skills and goals that the middle-class learns about and begins preparing for early in life; but they are often foreign concepts to the working poor. Real economic inclusion takes skill – for example, knowing how to find and keep a good job, handling workplace challenges, sticking to a budget, building good credit and building a relationship with a bank. These are just a few of the key skills that CWF teach participants.


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