People living in the urban neighborhoods of Indianapolis need resources to help them get jobs, manage their finances, and gain access to credit, information, and services that can help them advance in life. That’s why LISC, with major support from the Central Indiana Community Foundation, became involved with the Centers for Working Families (CWFs): a national model developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to help the working poor develop, grow, and protect their assets.
The CWF network in Indianapolis is composed of seven neighborhood-based centers that transition families from living paycheck to paycheck to investing in their future – not only in getting a job, but a career; not only in meeting expenses, but saving for their first home.
As of March 2014, the program has served more than 10,000 families who have received an array of “bundled” services, including employment assistance, financial coaching, and strategic and practical support. Over 1,877 people have been placed in jobs, with nearly 1,332 families achieving net income gains.
Since 2010, the program has received major financial support from the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF), along with local match funding from the Central Indiana Community Foundation, The Clowes Fund, State Farm, Staples Foundation, Making Connections Indianapolis, the Open Society Institute, Dollar General, First Indiana, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Old National Bank, Noyes Foundation, and Hoover Foundation.
Success Story: Natoya’s Journey
After leaving an abusive environment, Natoya and her three young children moved to a new city; she had no job and no resources. She tirelessly submitted job applications without any invitations for interviews. She tried to navigate the process to receive government assistance with little success.
When Natoya began working with the Center for Working Families at Southeast Community Services (Southeast), she saw hope for the first time. With the guidance of her employment coach, Natoya improved her resume and her interview skills.
“After being in such a negative place, my confidence was so low,” Natoya said. “Southeast helped me rebuild my confidence and believe in my skills.”
This renewed sense of empowerment helped Natoya land a job as a medical assistant at Indiana University Health. When asked about her job, Natoya beamed with joy and said, “I get to encourage families and put smiles on patients’ faces even during the most stressful situations.”
Natoya began to dream bigger. With her mother as a role model, Natoya knew that homeownership was crucial for her children’s stability and growth. With buying a house as her goal, Natoya’s financial coach helped her create a budget and savings plan for the first time. She tracked expenses, learned to manage debt, and negotiated with creditors reducing one medical bill from $1,800 down to $400.
Armed with a plan, Natoya is close to reaching her homeownership goal. She has opened an Individual Development Account to save money for a down payment, and she has increased her credit score through the Twin Accounts program at Financial Health Federal Credit Union.
These new savings habits have reduced Natoya’s stress level and have helped her stay focused. “I no longer have fear when I open my bank statement each month,” said Natoya. “I know exactly where my money is going, and I see progress every day.”
Natoya continues planning for the future and is excited to create new goals with her financial coach. She wants to get a bachelors degree in health care management and learn to speak Spanish.
“Southeast gave me hope. I now know there are opportunities and connections out there to get me where I want to go,” said Natoya. “Southeast is committed to helping people achieve their dreams… you just got to be persistent in defining the future you want!”
Currently, there are CWFs in seven Indianapolis neighborhoods:
Southeast Community Services
901 Shelby Street
Indianapolis, IN 46203
John H. Boner Community Center
2236 East 10th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46201
Hawthorne Community Center
2440 West Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Flanner House of Indianapolis
2424 Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Street
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center
1920 West Morris Street
Indianapolis, IN 46221
Martindale Brightwood Center for Working Families
2605 East 25th Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46218
Ivy Tech Community College Center for Working Families
50 West Fall Creek Parkway North Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46208
For more detailed information, check out the resources below: