Community foundation pledges $25,000 for financial empowerment

Community foundation pledges $25,000 for financial empowerment

Focus on financial advice to make good financial decisions

PATERSON, NJ – The Community Foundation of New Jersey announced today that it has committed $25,000 for the financial empowerment of Paterson residents. The funding will take the form of a grant to the Paterson Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), which launched in June 2021.

Through professional and individual financial advice, residents are able to navigate current financial challenges, many of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and also plan for the future. Three trained financial advisors conduct free one-hour sessions with low-income residents to help them create financial plans. While the financial plans are individualized, the sessions focus on debt reduction plans; establishing, improving and building credit ratings; grow savings; increase residents’ net worth; and access safe and affordable traditional banking products.

“The Community Foundation of New Jersey was one of the founding partners of the FEC, believing in the vision of financial empowerment for Paterson residents and establishing a fund at the Foundation to help activate the philanthropic community,” noted the Mayor of Paterson, Andre Sayegh. “We are now very grateful for this investment from the CFNJ to continue the good work of helping our residents achieve the American dream of financial stability and upward mobility, which will have an impact for generations to come.”

First founded in New York, the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) model has been successfully implemented in 26 city and county governments nationwide. The FEC model is based on the belief that all individuals, regardless of income, deserve equal access to professional financial advice to empower themselves within their families.

The program will bring particular value to Paterson, where many residents are underserved. Nearly 15% of Paterson households are unbanked, meaning they do not have a bank account or use any other form of financial institution, which is more than fifty percent higher than the state average. More than 30% of Paterson households are underbanked, which includes people who have bank accounts but have frequently used non-traditional financial institutions in the past twelve months, such as non-bank money orders, cash services, cashing of non-bank checks, non-bank remittances, payday loans, rent-to-own services, pawnshops or prepayment loans.

Since its launch in June, the Paterson FEC has served 157 Paterson residents.

“This proven model is a great example of how a public-private partnership can fund programs to promote economic inclusiveness,” said Nalune Francois, program associate at the Community Foundation of New Jersey. “For many, Paterson’s FEC may be an initial introduction, and for others, it may be the only path to wealth building.”

The program is jointly operated by the City of Paterson and United Way of Passaic County. A true public-private partnership, it is funded by both the City and private philanthropy, integrating financial empowerment strategies into local government infrastructure. Partnership and collaboration between local government, community organizations and philanthropy are fundamental to the delivery of advice, resident engagement, achievement of results and program sustainability.

Those interested in joining the initiative can contact Nalune François, program associate at the Community Foundation of New Jersey, at [email protected]

About the Community Foundation of New Jersey

With $800 million in assets, the Community Foundation of New Jersey creates and scales custom solutions for motivated individuals, families, and businesses. The level of detail in CFNJ’s investment and grantmaking capabilities is made possible by a team of specialists who understand the unique contours of communities and can manage the breadth of CFNJ’s grantmaking vehicles. From creative projects that tackle critical societal or political issues to scholarship funds, corporate philanthropy, legacy funds, and donor-advised funds, the CFNJ handles nearly every donation vehicle and adapts solutions to meet critical needs. More than 1,100 funds award tens of millions of dollars each year, including $100 million in 2021 in New Jersey and beyond.


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