Lawrence Financial Stability Center

Since 2000, LCW has been offering an array of Asset Building opportunities to its members, ranging from matched savings for asset ownership and financial education, to homebuyer education, adult basic education, youth development, and leadership development. All of these programs help families become both economically self-sufficient and civically empowered, and have helped nearly 500 Lawrence residents save hundreds of thousands of dollars and make investments totaling over $80 million in new homes, educational credentials, and small businesses.

In the wake of the national economic crisis, LCW stepped up this effort, launching the Lawrence Saves campaign to create a culture of financial literacy, savings, and asset-building among Lawrence residents, through expanded programs and partnerships. Campaign research revealed that residents:
  • Find it difficult to consider saving because they are un/under-employed
  • Perceive a lack of positive resources in the city to help inform them about achieving financial goals
  • Perceive that existing financial services could be more welcoming and culturally competent to attract a broader customer base
  • Want help developing asset-building goals and the plans to achieve them
  • Want to help create a financially supportive environment for families
  • Find an important connection between fiscal and physical health

In the fall of 2010 the United Way of Mass Bay and Merrimack Valley approached LCW to collaborate in creating a one-stop facility to expand financial education and asset development throughout the City and the Merrimack Valley. The Lawrence Financial Stability Center practices a “bundled service” approach to family economic advancement, which fits perfectly with the priorities emerging from the LCW Lawrence Saves initiative.

The Lawrence Financial Stability Center (LFSC) seeks to provide — through both program expansion and partnerships — a bundling of financial education, asset building, income support and job readiness programs to encourage families as they strive for economic mobility and security. In line with LCW’s network-building approach to community development, the LFSC brings together key local partners under one roof to provide coordinated services; it will also offer opportunities for residents to build social capital and co-invest in our success.

Rita Almanzar and her husband Antonio Villa are examples of what financial education can help you achieve. Rita is a 2012/2013 LFSC Business IDA (Individual Development Account) participant. This is the Almanzar family’s second enrollment in an IDA through LCW. Rita’s husband Antonio Villa was a participant in our 2006 Community IDA and the family bought their very first home as a result. Rita will be using the Small Business IDA experience to create a computer repair business for the family.

 

Nancy Reyes is an LCW 360-degree success story. Her first home was sold in a short sale at the beginning of the foreclosure crisis.  She initiated foreclosure counseling through LCW, and was then accepted in the LCW Second Chance IDA program.  There she participated in homeownership counseling and peer support, and is now a homeowner again, with the tools for success this time.  Nancy overcame her barriers and fears, and achieved financial stability once again.

Building financial assets supports families in creating financial stability. With the ongoing support of the Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley United Way and community partnership relationships like our job readiness partner – Northern Essex Community College, we are looking forward to the Lawrence Financial Stability Center offering even great opportunities of success in financial stability for the Lawrencians and the surrounding Merrimack Valley.

Photo member portrait credits: Howard Kang, United Way