Center to Offer Financial Capability Resources to Northshore Residents
NEW ORLEANS – United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) Wednesday opened the doors to its new Northshore Prosperity Center – the first financial capability education center serving Northshore residents – located in Covington next to the Northshore Food Bank Resale Shop.
"The pandemic has increased financial instability across the Northshore, and United Way is ready to respond thanks to the generous support of our donors and partners," said Michael Williamson, UWSELA President and CEO. "The Northshore Prosperity Center will empower struggling households to achieve financial stability, gain assets and overcome intergenerational poverty, leading to a stronger, more equitable community for us all."
The center, located at 834 N. Colombia St., will utilize a one-stop approach to help low-to-moderate income participants gain financial stability through 11 services, including:
• financial education – group seminars covering a broad spectrum of financial topics
• financial coaching – ongoing one-on-one interactions empowering participants to address short- to long-term financial issues
• credit improvement – counseling services designed to identify and prioritize credit-building strategies
• access to safe and affordable financial products – provide alternative options to high-cost financial service providers (e.g., check cashers, payday lenders)
• access to federal and state benefits – comprehensive screening to determine federal and state benefit eligibility for participants
• free tax preparation assistance (VITA) – inclusive tax preparation services integrated with financial education
• incentivized savings – match-savings program designed to encourage savings behavior for specified assets
• asset ownership programs (IDA) – wealth-building programming designed to help participants purchase and maintain assets, such as a home, business, or obtaining an education
• workforce development soft skills – a combination of soft skills training that enables participants to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well and achieve employment
Financial education, IDA and VITA will be available to the public, while additional programming will be provided through partner referrals.
“The Northshore Prosperity Center is a welcome resource for so many of our citizens who were hard hit by COVID-19 and for those who were struggling well before the pandemic impacted St. Tammany,” said St. Tamany Parish President Mike Cooper. “I want to thank United Way of Southeast Louisiana for their commitment to our community and for their tireless work to ensure every household in need has access to the tools that will help them create a strong, renewed path to a better life.”
The center will target the 48% of households in St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes living below the ALICE®(Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Threshold.
Households below the ALICE threshold do not earn enough money to afford a basic survival budget, including housing, transportation, health care, child care, food and technology, or save for an emergency.
“There is an incredible value in providing financial literacy and coaching as part of the pathway to a more stable career and prosperous future, especially for those hovering below the edges of self-sustainability,” said Melissa Kirsh, Workforce Development Board for Tri-Parish Works Executive Director. “Providing financial education and financial coaching can be the difference between persistent job instability and a viable self-sustaining career pathway.”
UWSELA's financial capability staff will model the new center's programming after the J. Wayne Leonard Prosperity Center, now in its fourth year of serving clients in New Orleans and the surrounding area. Since its opening in 2017, the center:
• helped participants save an average of $1,500 within six months and reduce their debts by $300+;
• assisted with $3.9 million in asset purchases through the IDA Project;
• granted over $430,000 in mortgage and rental assistance;
• prepared 2,785 tax returns at no cost; and
• provided over 300 one-on-one coaching sessions and 30 financial education workshops.
“We’ve seen firsthand the life-changing impact financial capability services can have on individuals who don’t have access to the tools and resources needed to generate personal wealth - a key to long-term financial stability,” added Chiquita Lattimore, UWSELA VP, Financial Capability. “Our new Prosperity Center will increase access to those supports and help more individuals take control of their finances and create lifelong plans for financial success.”
Call 985.244.6580 or visit UnitedWaySELA.org/ProsperityCenter to learn more about UWSELA's financial capability programming at both UWSELA Prosperity Center locations.
About United Way of Southeast Louisiana
For 95 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable – and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit UnitedWaySELA.org. Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA.