United Way NCA’s Financial Empowerment Centers Are Breaking Apart Financial Barriers Across the DMV

Nov 13, 2018

by United Way NCA

On the road to establishing financial stability, don’t undermine the importance of a hearty credit score. In today’s world, credit is everywhere, without a strong credit score you can’t access services like opening a credit card, applying for mortgage loans, or even something as small as getting Wi-Fi installed your home. It’s for this reason that United Way of the National Capital Area is expanding its Financial Empowerment Centers, an education hub where anyone and everyone can get access to courses and coaching in financial literacy.

There’s plenty of information floating on the web surrounding financial literacy, but most of it is difficult to disseminate to those who aren’t already accustomed to laws, benefits or other rules that may be working in their favor. The Financial Empowerment Centers offer a safe space where people from all type of financial backgrounds can learn how to manage their money, file their taxes, invest and develop their credit score all for at no cost. Many alumni of the United Way of the National Capital Area’s Financial Empowerment Centers leave with strengthened credit, become homeowners or even go on to start their own businesses.

Such is the story of Financial Empowerment Center at South County alumni Karan and Kevin who were introduced to the Financial Empowerment Center through the course, Building a Better Credit. The class focuses on developing sustainable methods for repayment, budgeting expenses versus income and understanding what strategic financial investments can boost their desire credit growth.

Upon completing the course, they immediately scheduled a follow up appointment with a financial coach to review their financial situation and get guidance in pursuit of their dream to purchase their own home.  Since then Kevin and Karan have made strides towards homeownership. Karan, who started with no credit, has managed to achieve a credit score of 710 in the short time she’s been with the Financial Empowerment Centers. Likewise, Kevin is now boasting a 655 after having entered the program in the low 500s. Together they have worked with our pro-bono legal advisor, and participated in a First Time Buyer class and are now hoping to purchase a home within the year.

Karan and Kevin are just two success stories from the FEC which between two locations, one at Prince George’s County and another in South County, serviced over 4000 people last year, with 81% of people leaving with substantial financial achievements.

While the journey to financial stability might be daunting at first, it’s always more bearable when you have support. The Financial Empowerment Center is here provide the individual services that people need to establish a financially sustainable life. With a new center opening in Prince William County, United Way of the National Capital Area comes that much closer to helping everyone in the DMV achieve financial stability.

“They say that knowledge is power, and knowledge has given me the realization that I can actually improve my quality of life. I have been living on Richmond Highway for 12 years, and I have gotten stuck in a negative and defeatist way of thinking.  I thought that my lower income and my disabilities had brought me as far in life as I could go…but the amazing and passionate people I have encountered here at the Financial Empowerment Center have opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and new possibilities. I thought because I had no credit that that was a bad thing, but I found out I could build credit easily, and that there are many advantages to having credit. I hope to own my own home within the next year, and I realize now that my only limits are my own imagination and education.” –Karan


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