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Roanoke News

Posted on: August 19, 2021

Financial Empowerment Center Celebrates One Year Since Launch

The Roanoke Financial Empowerment Center, a program of the City of Roanoke in partnership with Freedom First Enterprises and the national nonprofit Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), has helped Roanoke area residents reduce more than $375,000 of debt and save more than $65,000 since it opened last year. The Roanoke FEC provides one-on-one financial counseling and coaching as a no-cost public service to Roanoke area residents. Since opening, the Roanoke FEC has held more than 1300 counseling sessions with Roanoke area residents.

The City of Roanoke's Financial Empowerment Center has had tremendous success since it launched in helping our residents reduce their debt, build savings, establish and improve credit, connect to safe and affordable bank accounts, and access additional financial supports during an uncertain time," said Mayor Sherman Lea. "This past year, the financial impact of COVID-19 on our community has highlighted how important it is to have no-cost, one-on-one financial counseling available to residents as a public service to help them manage their personal finances and work toward a stronger financial future.”

The Roanoke FEC addresses financial instability in the community by helping individuals and families increase their emergency savings, decrease household debt, improve credit, become banked, and establish and maintain budgets. Professionally trained FEC counselors assist and coach individuals in these areas, as well as others, to prepare them to weather financial shocks and build toward a more secure financial future. 

"The FEC has seen extraordinary success in its first year,” said Dave Prosser, Executive Director, Freedom First Enterprises. “Over 500 individuals and families have been positively impacted by the FEC, by reducing debt and increasing savings. When people feel empowered financially, they can turn their life around and have a huge impact on their community. We look forward to helping more people work toward financial stability.” 

The Roanoke FEC is an integral part of the City of Roanoke’s efforts to support individuals on their pathway out of any financial hardship that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, and toward financial stability.

“COVID-19 has only underscored the importance of financial stability, and the role that professional, one-on-one financial counseling can play in helping residents navigate the financial impact of the pandemic,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “The Roanoke FEC has done critical work financially empowering residents over the past year, and we are thrilled to partner with the City of Roanoke, Mayor Lea, and Freedom First Enterprises and to celebrate the FEC’s one year anniversary.”

First piloted in New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008, FECs across the Country have worked with over 123,000 clients, helping them reduce individual debt by more than $171 million, and increasing their families’ savings by more than $30 million. In addition, a CFE Fund evaluation showed that this program works even for residents with very low incomes and other complex financial challenges. The City of Roanoke is one of more than two dozen cities and counties across the Country that have either launched or are working to launch local FECs. 

Roanoke area residents can schedule an appointment with a financial counselor at www.roanokefec.org. Appointments should be scheduled in advance and can be held in-person or over the phone. In-person sessions can be held at multiple locations, including Freedom First Credit Union's Crossroads branch. If you need further assistance, please visit www.roanokefec.org, email counseling@roanokefec.org, or call (540) 427-6811.

About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)

The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting-edge experience with large-scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders in more than 100 cities and counties to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. For more information, please visit www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.

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