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LISC/Chicago Awards $1.73 Million to Expand Centers for Working Families

LISC/Chicago is granting $1.73 million to 10 community organizations to establish and expand Centers for Working Families, which provide employment training, financial counseling and debt management services to low-income residents throughout the city.

The grants are expected to help more than 10,000 families in Back of the Yards, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Little Village, Logan Square, North Lawndale, Pilsen, Quad Communities, Uptown, Washington Park, and Woodlawn find jobs, build credit worthiness, reduce burdensome debt, build assets, and gain financial capability.

Centers for Working Families provide a variety of income and employment assistance to Chicagoans of modest means.

Photos by Eric Young Smith

Chicago grantees include: Association House, Central States SER, Greater Southwest Development Corporation, Humboldt Park Social Services, Instituto del Progreso Latino, Jane Addams Hull House, Jane Addams Resource Corporation, North Lawndale Employment Network, Safer Foundation, and The Cara Program.

They were selected through a national RFP process and are among 47 nonprofits in 10 metropolitan areas that will be implementing LISC’s $4.2 million Social Innovation Fund grant, a federal pool of funds administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service to help low-income residents secure their financial future. LISC is matching that with private funds to expand Centers for Working Families in Cincinnati, Detroit, Duluth, Houston, Indianapolis, Providence/Woonsocket, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and the Twin Cities, in addition to Chicago.

“Centers for Working Families are unique both for their approach and their impact,” said Joel Bookman, LISC/Chicago’s director of programs.

“Our Centers take a bundled approach to financial security – with employment training and placement, budgeting, debt management, financial coaching, as well as counseling to help clients navigate complicated tax and benefits programs – all combined as part of a comprehensive program.”

The results at Centers up and running around the country are significant, Bookman continued.

“We know that with the right tools, low-income families can build their incomes and their assets in ways that have a long-term impact on their quality of life.

For some people, that may sound surprising.

But it has proven to be true in neighborhoods all across the country.”

”Helping families develop a sound financial base is not just critical for them.

It has an important impact on the surrounding community,” said Brenda Palms Barber, executive director of the North Lawndale Employment Network.

“By expanding our Center for Working Families, we are raising standards of living in ways that benefit local business, help stabilize the neighborhood housing market, impact kids and schools, and more.

Our Center can have a broad, significant reach. When families do well, communities do well.”

Centers for Working Families are part of LISC/Chicago’s comprehensive New Communities Program to help low-income residents transform their distressed neighborhoods into places of choice and opportunity.

Through its wide array of financial products, investments and strategic technical assistance, LISC helps

Free tax preparation assistance is one of the features provided by CWFs.

community-based development organizations get what they need to build vibrant communities – affordable housing; employment opportunities; commercial enterprises; community facilities; and civic engagement

“Thanks to the Social Innovation Fund, more struggling Chicago families will have the chance to stabilize their financial outlook and create their own opportunities for growth,” said Michael Rubinger, national LISC president and CEO.

“Financial Opportunity Centers (aka Centers for Working Families) have taken the blueprint for long-term financial planning that is common among more affluent individuals and tailored it to the specific needs of low- and moderate-income families,” he said.

LISC currently supports 33 Centers for Working Families in low-income communities across the country. In Chicago, there are 12 Centers for Working Families in the LISC network. For details about each grantee’s program, visit



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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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