Submitted by Brad Hilliard
On Tuesday, January 24, the United Way of Pierce County, Tacoma Goodwill and Sound Outreach officially kicked off Washington State’s first Center for Strong Families.
This financial planning program is a complete wrap around service that provides Pierce County residents with a multitude of services from financial coaching, workforce development, access to basic services, parenting resources and asset accumulation.
The model is built on an integrated approach where hard-working families develop close relationships with coaches and planners to help them “Earn it, Keep it, and Grow it”.
“The key is the bundling of all three components, said Dona Ponepinto, CEO and President of United Way of Pierce County “It’s so much more than a transaction, it’s sitting down and helping families realize their hopes and dreams.”
Ponepinto’s passion for bringing this model to Washington is due to her past experience integrating it in Detroit during the economic downturn of 2008 – 09.
The Detroit program was the first collaborative partnership designed to help families improve job training, reduce financial costs and build wealth. Ponepinto admits that is came at a tumultuous time because people were losing jobs, losing homes and just trying to hang on. However she learned to trust the program and the partners. “What we found was by meeting families where they are and helping them stabilize they were able to increase income, decrease debt and even improve their credit scores!”
The collaborative partners mentioned above and several community partners like State Farm, who provided $200,000 of support through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) are excited to see the impact these Centers will have on Pierce County in the coming months and years.
“We just have such opportunity to get local families connected to these resources,” said Ponepinto. I know it works, I have seen it!”
To get connected with an employment and financial coach, dial 2-1-1 to find a Center for Strong Families near you or visit www.uwpc.org/CSF.