Financial coaches’ training taking place at Equale & Cirone, LLP in Bethel. Pictured from left to right: Fabian Encarnacion of JE & Sons Multiservice; Nicole Crudup Tony Cirone. Andrew Steel, Andrew Willock, Ben Chianese, and Roberta Gaiotti of Equale & Cirone; Dana Voelzke of Fairfield County Bank. (contributed photo)
Danbury, CT - United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) has received $27,500 in grant funding from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, State Farm and Wells Fargo to empower individuals and families toward financial capability and stability. The grant funding will support United Way’s Financial Resource Center (FRC) program, which teaches fundamental financial literacy skills and links local Connecticut residents to existing financial services.
The FRC engages skilled and trained community volunteers from banking and other professions to facilitate financial literacy workshops and provide one-on-one financial coaching. The program is free and confidential, open to residents ages 18 and older in Northern Fairfield and Southern Litchfield Counties. The FRC is part of United Way’s focus on helping people who are working, but struggling paycheck-to-paycheck—whom the organization identifies as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).
“One of the most critical issues affecting our communities is the financial instability of low- to moderate-income ALICE families. The Financial Resource Center provides real help with managing a tight budget and can relieve some of the financial stress families are facing,” said Kim Morgan, CEO of United Way of Western Connecticut.
An example of the FRC’s success is client Shawn, who was a single father of two, earning over $60,000 per year, but had less than $20 left in his checking account each month. He sought help through social services, thinking he may need assistance at some point to get by. Shawn had been putting money into savings, but withdrew it each month. He and his FRC coach developed a household budget and identified where he could cut back expenses, reducing the need to deplete his savings. He had also received a tax refund the previous year, due to over-withheld taxes. The financial coach recommended he decrease his withholdings so he could use the money through the year, and suggested he could afford a mortgage payment equivalent to his monthly rent—and the real estate taxes and interest would be tax deductible. As a result of the FRC program, Shawn was able to purchase a home.
The funding from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, State Farm and Wells Fargo will go toward the cost of the program, including FDIC Money Smart curriculum materials used in public and employer-based workshops. Workshop participants are given the opportunity to go on to meet with a financial coach for one-on-one financial education.