Mi Casa and mpowered have been partnering for almost four years to advance the economic success of our community, and we would like to share more about our partnership with the rest of our community. Who is mpowered? “mpowered is a Colorado-based nonprofit resource for Coloradoans who want to learn about money management and participate in coaching to achieve their personal definition of financial success.” We were honored to receive the “Work Together” award from mpowered at their Collective Impact breakfast in October. The event featured a speaker who is a small business owner, who was referred to Mi Casa’s small business program. That is where we are now in 2016, so let us bring you back to where we first started.
In 2013, the City and County of Denver received a $1.9 million grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies and Living Cities’ Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund to replicate New York City’s evidence-based Financial Empowerment Center model. The model provides free, one-on-one financial coaching by trained professionals to low-income residents both at new local Financial Empowerment Centers and by integrating financial coaching into the delivery of municipal services. mpowered has led the provision of direct financial coaching services to the community through the effort, and Mi Casa’s Headquarters and Innovation Lab locations have been two of the thirteen sites across the city to house financial coaches under the Financial Empowerment Center.
While our partnership with mpowered began as two separate program offerings co-located at the same location, with time and intentional work, the collaboration grew to a true integration of services. In 2014, Mi Casa added mpowered’’s financial coaching as a key component to our core Career and Business Training programs. These financial coaching sessions focus on important subjects such as budgeting and credit scores. When asked about the value of the sessions, one participant said, “[the financial coach] was able to do a soft pull on my credit history. She was able to give me advice of how to get things off of there and rebuild it. It went really well and my credit score has gone up tremendously.”
We have enjoyed seeing our partnership with mpowered grow over the years, and we are glad that the feeling is mutual. Chad Gentry, Executive Director of mpowered, added that:
“Mpowered’s partnership with Mi Casa has grown beyond our joint services into a true friendship over the years. Even before our integrated partnership was established, I was personally donating both time and money to Mi Casa’s amazing work in the community. Mi Casa has been creating economic mobility for its families for years and now with a personal finance coaching on site full time we are able to maximize our collective impact in the community. Our services dovetail into perfect alignment with Mi Casa’s programming, meeting these families where they are, and by providing them access to skills, resources and information that allows them to thrive! Mpowered’s Working Together Award which we presented to Mi Casa is just another example of how nonprofits working together can move from above average to EXTRAORDINARY!”
The partnership is appreciated at Mi Casa and mpowered, for it allows both organizations to serve participants with excellence and efficiency, and to have an even greater impact. As Karen Fox Elwell, VP of Programs & Integration at Mi Casa, explained, “The Integrated Services model is a best practice that has been shown effective in breaking the cycle of poverty by offering multiple economic and education programs in a single location. The model uses a streamlined, individualized approach to best connect each participant to the services most relevant to each individual’s path towards economic and educational success. Poverty reduction is complex and requires a multi-faceted approach that no one agency alone can accomplish; it is important to leverage core competencies of different organizations to address participants’ holistic needs.”
Mi Casa appreciates the work of mpowered for they welcome our participants and us, in the reciprocal and synergistic relationship that we formed together. There is also an ease of access for our participants, where they can come to mpowered and feel safe and welcome, without any shame or blame. Participants leave their appointments having faced their fears and ready to envision their futures.
After meeting with mpowered, participants feel empowered, they successfully complete their programs, and they achieve their goals in business, education, and employment. Karen Fox Elwell elaborated on some of the successes that we have seen in our participants:
“Over 80% of Career Development participants obtain & retain employment over 6 months. Wages increase steadily over time, from an average of $11.89 hourly at time of employment to $13.39 6 months later. Business Development participants who met with a Financial Coach were 93 times more likely to complete their program. Over 14 months, Business Development participants grossed $6.6 million with a profit of $365,922, for an average revenue of $38,103 and average profit of $2,103 per participant.”
We would like to thank mpowered for this fantastic partnership, and we look forward to our future work together. When we move our headquarters office to the Westwood neighborhood in Southwest Denver, our partnership will not change. Financial coaching will continue to be an integral part of the service offerings at Mi Casa!