10 Years of transforming financial vulnerability into financial empowerment

United Way Center for Financial Stability has impacted 31,300 residents and is building an ecosystem of partners dedicated to strengthening working families

Ten years ago, United Way Center for Financial Stability opened its doors to help working individuals and families stabilize following the recession. Today, more than 31,300 residents better understand their finances and have more control of their economic situation because they received services at the Center. From its first location at Branches in North Dade, the Center grew to three locations and various satellite sites, extending services throughout Miami-Dade County. In addition to offering direct services, the Center expanded its reach through new partnerships and investments in communitywide collaborations that empower even more families to become financially resilient, regardless of income, zip code or circumstance.

As cost of living continues to outpace Median Household Income, the need for strategic programming is as critical as ever. In fact, 520,000 households in Miami-Dade are struggling to make ends meet, according to the United Way ALICE Report.*

“Our community and economy cannot succeed if hardworking families cannot prosper,” Maria C. Alonso, president and CEO, United Way of Miami-Dade, said. “That is why the Center for Financial Stability collaborates with dozens of agencies, invests in quality programming and offers holistic services that address barriers to prosperity and bolster the economic mobility of all families.”

To meet community needs, the Center established the South Florida FinCap Ecosystem, offering evidence-based trainings, technical assistance and data management support to a network of partners who are building capacity and offering coordinated financial capability services. Through this collective impact concept, the Center promotes the “supervitamin effect,” an approach that infuses financial empowerment tools into existing social services, leading to better, longer-lasting results for participants.

From the start, United Way partnered with Branches to offer comprehensive financial services and support to working families, including one-on-one financial coaching, expert and free tax preparation, employment assistance, credit and debt management, benefits enrollment, homeownership services and the creation of a personalized plan to reach goals and build assets.

Year after year, the Center offers wraparound services, empowering residents to feel informed and prepared to weather any kind of storm. Of its 31,300 clients, 3,200 received in-depth financial coaching, where they regularly met with a financial coach to design and implement personalized plans for achieving comprehensive goals. Garnering national attention, this approach was studied by the Urban Institute, which concluded: financial coaching offers measurable improvements in financial behavior and well-being.**

“Gracias a la gran oportunidad que me ha brindado United Way, no solo he aprendido a administrarme y a hacer un presupuesto de acuerdo a mis ingresos, sino lo más importante es que estamos felices otra vez, porque conseguimos nuestro propio hogar”, dijo Apolonia, clienta del Centro. “Nunca me cansaré de agradecerle a United Way todo lo que han hecho por mí y por mis hijos”.*** 


Key client successes include: 

  • 1,849 established and implemented a new monthly spending plan
  • 893 eliminated debt
  • 1,562 paid down debt
  • 765 established regular savings
  • 351 secured an emergency fund
  • 2,072 increased their credit scores
  • 1,180 secured a key asset-building tool by obtaining a credit score of at least 650
  • 1,722 set and achieved at least one financial goal

Additional initiatives to expand the Center’s impact include:

  • FinCap Academy: trainings where the Center offers evidence-based practices to drive the integration of financial capability services among nonprofits and government agencies;
  • UW@WORK: the Center’s first employer-based financial wellness program at one of Miami’s anchor institutions, Jackson Health System, where employees have access to a financial coach at the workplace. The goal is to expand to other employers in the future.
  • Bank On Miami: a public-private partnership, led by the Center, that offers safe and affordable banking products and services; and
  • Miami Tax Pros: a network of partners, led by Branches, who offer expert, free tax preparation services through the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

“The United Way Center for Financial Stability is instrumental in building a resilient Miami-Dade County, where working families can plan, save and feel secure,” Carlos Migoya, president & CEO, Jackson Health System, said. “Through UW@WORK, our employees at Jackson are building relationships with their financial coaches and taking important steps to meeting personal and family long-term goals…We couldn’t ask for a better partner in helping our employees plan for rainy days.”

To give, advocate, volunteer or learn more, visit www.MiamiFinancialStability.org.

About United Way Center for Financial Stability

Established in 2009, the United Way Center for Financial Stability helps working individuals and families pave a path to financial independence by providing a full range of services and support – from financial coaching and credit counseling to free tax preparation, employment assistance and more. The various strategically located centers, operated by United Way and Branches, work with numerous partners to provide access to comprehensive services, because increasing the financial stability of families creates a stronger, more productive workforce and a prosperous community. Bank of America is the founding partner. For more information, visit miamifinancialstability.org.

 *The United Way ALICE Report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) shines a light on the growing number of working families who are employed, earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, yet are one emergency away from poverty.

 **Urban Institute Study, https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/102016_cfpb_Financial_Coaching_Strategy_to_Improve_Financial_Well-Being.pdf

 ***”Thanks to the great opportunity the United Way has given me, not only have I learned to create and sustain a budget according to my income, but the most important thing is that we’ve been able to get our own place,” said Apolonia, a client of the Center. “I will never tire of thanking United Way for everything they have done for me and my children.”


2019-12-05T13:13:12-04:00 October 16th, 2019|