Philly chosen to be part of national financial health project
Announced last week, Philly will have the ability to build upon the efforts of the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) thanks to a nationwide effort to increase financial security.
Philadelphia was chosen as one of eight cities to participate in a financial inclusion project by the National League of Cities (NLC), an advocacy group that focuses on improving community relations in local municipalities.
The Financial Inclusion Systems and City Leadership (FISCL) project will look to improve financial services and education for those who need it. According to the city, the program will target breaking the “generational cycle of poverty.”
“Mayor Kenney strongly believes that financial stability is critical to eliminating poverty,” said CEO’s Executive Director Eva Gladstein in a statement. “The Mayor has often said that a child’s future should not be determined by his or her zip code. We believe this plan is just one part of his broader agenda.”
The FISCL project is supported by the MetLife Foundation, and will last two-years. The hope is to provide services that address financial education, help accumulate savings, reduce debt and build assets. The first meeting will be held in April, connecting mayors from the chosen cities with experts in the financial field to brainstorm and develop ideas.
“While many cities across the country are experiencing economic recovery and growth, this prosperity has not reached residents across all rungs of the economic ladder,” NLC President Melodee Colbert-Kean said in a statement. “This project will give mayors a unique opportunity to implement and strengthen innovative strategies to address the financial challenges many residents face on a daily basis.”
According to a report published last year by Shared Prosperity, a program initiated by the Nutter administration in 2013 to fight poverty, 26 percent of the city lives in poverty. For reference, the federal guidelines state that the poverty line is an annual income of $20,090 for a family of three. About 12.3 percent of Philadelphians live in “deep poverty,” which means they live on less than half of the federal poverty line.
The report also showed the majority of those who lived in poverty were Latino (42.9 percent). In terms of financial health, the report showed 35.6 percent of Philadelphians are underbanked and 15.2 percent don’t have bank accounts at all.
As a part of the Shared Prosperity project, the city launched five Financial Empowerment Centers where anyone can get financial help in both English and Spanish. The city hopes to be able to launch more of these centers with the help of the FISCL project.