This report is a three-year evaluation of the Financial Empowerment Center initiative’s replication in 5 cities (Denver, CO; Lansing, MI; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; and San Antonio, TX). The evaluation draws on data from 22,000 clients who participated in 57,000 counseling sessions across these first 5 city replication partners, and provides powerful evidence of the program’s success. Read an executive summary of the report here.
Despite deep financial challenges like low incomes, bad credit, and no savings– FEC clients succeeded.
As further evidence of the program’s success, evaluation findings include:
- FEC clients succeeded. Overall, FEC clients reduced their debt by $22.5 million, increased their savings by $2.7 million, and nearly a quarter of unscored clients working on credit issues succeeded in establishing a credit score.
- FEC clients succeeded despite deep financial challenges. FEC clients averaged annual incomes of only about $21,000; they were twice as likely as all U.S. consumers to have a subprime credit score and half as likely to even have a credit score; nearly 23% had no health insurance; and over 60% had no savings.
- FEC clients meaningfully reduced debt. While FEC clients began counseling with an average of nearly $29,000 in debt —more than half with credit card accounts, 40% with utility debt, and 38% with student loans—over a third of clients who tried to reduce their debt succeeded, with total debt reduction at $22.5 million.
- FEC clients meaningfully built savings. FEC clients were much more likely than average US residents to have no savings, yet overall, almost a third of clients working to increase their savings succeeded, averaging $1,634 and totaling $2.7 million.
- Banking status matters. Unbanked FEC clients had a notably more difficult time achieving financial outcomes, underscoring the importance of a bank account. Compared to clients with accounts, they were less than half as likely to increase their savings, and over a third less likely to establish a new credit score, even working directly and repeatedly with a counselor in efforts to do so.
- The FEC model worked in a variety of city contexts. The evaluation documents replication success across 5 different American cities. Critical, well-replicated features of the model included programmatic emphasis on public-private partnerships, building rapport and prioritizing the clients’ goals, encouraging return sessions, and professionalism through data-driven management and professional training.