Financial Opportunity Centers

Financial Opportunities Centers (FOCs)

LISC Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) provide employment and career counseling, one-on-one financial coaching and education and low-cost financial products that help build credit, savings and assets. They also connect clients with income supports such as food stamps, utilities assistance and affordable health insurance.  The cornerstone of the FOC model is providing these services in an integrated way, rather than as stand-alone services, and with a long-term commitment to helping clients reach their goals.

LISC has a network of nearly 80 FOCs across the country. Currently LISC supports three FOCs in Rhode Island, at Amos House, Genesis Center and Providence Housing Authority.

Research shows that FOC clients who take advantage of combined services are 50 percent more likely to land a well-paying job than people receiving employment services alone. And long-term job retention—holding a job for a year or more—almost doubles when financial coaching reinforces the work of employment counseling.

An independent study by the Economic Mobility Corporation has found that clients of LISC’s Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) are more likely to be employed year-round, to reduce non-asset related debt and to build positive credit histories than comparison group participants. These findings offer concrete evidence that our model is successful in helping low-income people reach their financial goals and create a brighter future for their families. Read the report here.

Bridges to Career Opportunities (BCO)

Bridges to Career Opportunities (BCO) grew from the success of the FOCs and the data showing that integrated services forming the core of the FOC model—employment and financial coaching, and income supports services–help individuals find jobs, increase their monthly net income, build credit and increase net worth.

We’ve also learned that many clients lack the fundamental reading and writing skills needed to enter into skills training and follow a career path that leads to family sustaining wages.

Bridges to Career Opportunities is a supported bridge program that responds to the chronic problem of low-wage stagnation among hard-to-employ, unskilled workers. People are stuck on the lower-rungs of the occupational ladder because they lack skills.

BCO responds to this by integrating foundational skills in reading, math and English contextualized to specific industry growth sectors. This kind of education allows low-income, low-skilled adults to successfully transition into and complete vocational skills training that results in industry recognized credentials and higher paying jobs. BCO participants receive intensive FOC services– career coaching, financial coaching, and supportive services–to help participants manage the financial, navigational and logistical challenges that often pose barriers to accessing and completing job training. They also get job search training and work readiness training to ensure that they find appropriate work and are ready to perform their best on the job.

In 2015, LISC expanded BCO with an $11.4 million grant from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). In Rhode Island, LISC is supporting Genesis Center with a three-year, $412,575 investment.

Bridges to Career Opportunities has been made possible in Rhode Island by the Rhode Island Foundation, Pawtucket Credit Union, Citizens Bank and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Social Innovation Fund (SIF).