Have you ever felt the excitement of getting your paycheck only to be met with the confusion, frustration and utter despair two days later when the money you worked so hard for is gone? Well, I think if we’re honest, we’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Here’s the thing, we all have bills to pay, urging responsibilities and hopefully some kind of social life. However, all of the above make a common demand: MONEY!

Since 2005, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago and our partner organizations have been operating the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) network. This network helps families and individuals become more financially secure in three critical areas: employment and/or increased wages; improved financial condition; and, improved access to public benefits.  We understand that jobs are not enough for a family to become financially stable, but through the FOCs’ integrated services of income supports, financial coaching and employment services clients can create a path to financial health.

FOC Model – Why it works:

The FOC is an integrated service delivery model that focuses on the WHOLE YOU – equipping you with tools, support and know-how to boost earnings, build credit, reduce expenses and make thoughtful financial decisions. Each FOC client has access to a network of coaches to help address financial problems from multiple angles including: job placement, retention and career advancement; access to public and private benefits to supplement earnings; and, managing a budget. In short, we care about you getting a job, keeping it, growing from it and managing the money you earn from it.

FOC’s Central States SER and Cara, through its partnership with LISC and the Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance, continue to test this model by providing financial coaching to those already employed. This allows for you to focus on work-life balance while knowing you have a trusted financial coach willing and able to guide you through the often difficult financial decisions and burdens that come with having a job, including increased childcare, transportation, housing and personal costs. Some of these burdens can very quickly become stressors that begin to infiltrate the workplace often causing tardiness, absenteeism, loss of productivity and ultimately, job loss.

The study, entitled First Steps on the Road to Financial Well-Being: Final Report from the Evaluation of LISC’s Financial Opportunity Centers, found that FOC clients are more likely to be employed year-round, reduce their non-asset related debt and build positive credit histories than comparison group participants. These findings offer concrete evidence that our model is successful in helping people achieve financial goals, retain employment and create a brighter future for their families and themselves.

Let me break it down: What is Financial Coaching?

Financial Coaching is:

  • Client driven, meaning “You’re the boss.” Yes, that’s right, you decide your goals and what you want to work on. Our coaches help you get there! We will work with you to create a plan and guide, support and encourage you every step of the way.
  • Focused on how to make better choices – not just on giving you a bunch of financial information.

It’s that simple! Our financial coaches are located all over the city and are committed to helping you achieve your financial goals, no matter how big or small. So next time you get your paycheck, no need to panic…call one of our FOC centers and speak to a financial coach.