Today, the City of Tulsa, Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, and the Tulsa Area United Way (TAUW) held a virtual ribbon cutting for Tulsa’s first Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), which will offer Tulsans professional, one-on-one financial counseling at no cost.
The FEC is part of Tulsa’s efforts to build financial resilience and is part of the Resilient Tulsa Strategy.
The FEC will be staffed with financial counselors who can help any Tulsan, regardless of income, with issues such as identifying and connecting to public benefits; budgeting in the face of income volatility; working with creditors like student lenders and credit card companies to reduce interest rates; reducing debt; establishing and improving credit; connecting to safe and affordable banking services; and building savings. Financial counselors can also make referrals to other services and organizations.
“In Tulsa, we believe financial empowerment can come from the municipal level, especially when we leverage great relationships with those in the private sector,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “As we navigate not only the pandemic, but the economic recovery and growth that will come, it is so important that we empower Tulsans with services that help them on their path toward upward mobility and financial resilience.”
The FEC will have a central hub, located at 1667 South Yale Ave., and counselors will also be located at various FEC partner sites to meet clients closer to home and where they already receive services. Due to the pandemic, services will be conducted virtually to start.
“Local leaders know first-hand the connection between family financial stability and community financial stability – and this connection is especially important during the current crisis,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “Mayor Bynum and the City of Tulsa are part of a growing national movement to bring free, high-quality financial counseling as a public service to their residents; we are proud to partner with Mayor Bynum to help residents navigate the financial impact of COVID-19 and work towards a stronger financial future.”
The FEC implementation partner is Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, which has a contract with the City to provide FEC services.
"Goodwill Industries of Tulsa knows well the need for high quality financial coaching,” Goodwill Industries of Tulsa President David Oliver said. “We look forward to working with the City of Tulsa, the Tulsa Area United Way, FEC and other organizations to strengthen the financial resilience of our community."
Counselors will be available to provide services in both English and Spanish, and Goodwill will use a contract with Language Line to support Tulsans who speak other languages.
“We are extremely excited to be a part of this initiative and look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have for our community,” said Brent Sadler, TAUW’s Chief Community Investment Officer.
FEC Funders Include:
Advisory board members and organizations from nonprofits, banks, higher education, social service providers, and foundations, as well as City departments, met monthly starting in February 2020 to help develop the implementation proposal. Many board members represent FEC referral partners and co-location partners.
Here’s what a few FEC Advisory Board Members had to say:
“We are excited to be a part of this great initiative. Tulsa residents will now have access to free professional one-on-one financial counseling that will provide the necessary tools for their future success.” - Andres (Andy) Chapa, VP, Business Development, Arvest Bank
“When the pathway is dark it can be difficult to see your way through; FEC can help navigate and provide financial well-being through individual coaching that's designed to empower and support the Tulsa community in financial crisis.” - Tracy Manning-Gibbs, North Tulsa Community Coalition Board Member and Economic Stability Task Force Chair
“What a unique opportunity to be able to provide evidence-based financial empowerment resources to our community. The Cities for Financial Empowerment FEC model has made a measurable impact in so many cities, and now it is Tulsa’s turn to be able to give our residents the tools and connections they need to build the path to financial success.”- Janae Bradford, Director of Project Management and Strategic Initiatives, CAP Tulsa