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NCUF grantees fin. coaching part of bigger picture
CHELSEA, Mass. (8/28/12)--Metro CU, Chelsea, Mass., is partnering with a local nonprofit organization to help low-income households establish a path to financial stability and mobility.

Metro CU--which received a $40,000 Financial Education Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation--is partnering with Chelsea Neighborhood Developers to develop and implement a new Family Economic Center.

Chelsea, located north of Boston, with a population of about 40,000, has one of the largest concentrations of working poor in Massachusetts. About 59% of households are low-income.

Metro CU offers financial services to center clients, provides materials and teachers for financial education classes, and volunteers its staff as financial coaches to provide technical assistance to local residents working to repair their credit, to own a home or build their assets.

As part of the program Metro CU will use the Credit Union National Association's financial counseling and training program.

Coaching is a critical element of the program, called Connect. Families are paired with life coaches who work with participants one-on-one to solve problems and develop habits that lead to financial stability (bostonglobe.com Aug. 27).

It's a mentoring approach inspired by Weight Watchers, said the Boston Globe. Many of the women in the program work more than one job while caring for children. Keeping a financial regimen is difficult with their busy schedules. Coaches hold them accountable.

But coaches offer more than budgeting advice. Rene Brimmage, 48, was living on disability payments when she enrolled in a financial management class at the center three years ago. Her coach, Carol Rijo, helped her find a job as a cleaner at Boston Sports Club. Brimmage soon earned a promotion to the front desk. She eventually moved on to become a full-time personal care assistant working with disabled children.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently recently awarded Chelsea Neighborhood Developers a $3 million grant, which will help the nonprofit increase the number of people it serves --to 4,000 a year, from 900.
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