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LISC Welcomes City’s Office of Financial Inclusion

By: Carl Vogel
Published: September 24, 2014

September saw the introduction of a new ally for LISC in the work to help low-income families gain financial stability with the formal announcement of the City of Chicago’s Office of Financial Inclusion (OFI).

At the launch of the Office of Financial Inclusion: Global Director of Citi Community Development Robert Annibale, LISC Director of Economic Opportunity Ricki Lowitz, and Chicago City Treasurer Stephanie Neely.

Housed within the Office of the City Treasurer, OFI will work with other government agencies to improve consumer financial programs and support financial education for youth and City College students. The office’s signature initiative, however, will be to expand access to credit-building and financial-coaching services by nonprofits and community-based organizations.

That goal is particularly important to LISC Chicago, which played a role in the planning and development of OFI. LISC’s network of 13 Centers for Working Families (CWF) in the city have served more than 35,000 clients over the last 10 years.

That experience has proven the importance of credit to low-income families and led to the creation of innovative credit building products, such as Twin Accounts. As City Treasurer Stephanie Neely noted at the event, an average consumer can save $250,000 due to a good credit score over the course of a lifetime.

“Through Twin Accounts, unscored participants are generating scores as high as 730 in a period of six months," explained Ricki Lowitz, LISC’s director of economic opportunity. "Participants with low scores are seeing gains of 20 to 80 points in the same period of time.” 

Lowitz was one of five presenters at the launch of the new Office of Financial Inclusion, which was held at the Center for Working Families at Instituto del Progresso Latino in Little Village on Sept. 10. Chris Vargas, a financial counselor at the CWF at the Jane Addams Resource Corporation, also spoke.

“It’s an honor to be a part of the launch of this important initiative,” Lowitz told the crowd. “The City Treasurer’s leadership on this issue means that groups like LISC can do far more good for low-income Chicagoans.”

 

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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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