NeighborWorks America and Citi Foundation Support Programs to Help Individuals and Families Gain Greater Economic Stability

Financial Capability Program Empowers Individuals to Achieve Financial Independence and Save for Long-Term Goals

WASHINGTON, DC, Jun 26, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- NeighborWorks America and the Citi Foundation are working together to level the economic playing field by providing financial capability programs across the country that support low- and moderate-income individuals who seek greater financial security through debt reduction and asset building strategies such as homeownership and attaining a college education. A new report released by the Federal Reserve shows Americans' net worth has plummeted since the recession. In this challenging landscape, financial capability represents a more comprehensive approach to building assets, moving beyond traditional financial education to provide individuals with a variety of financial tools that they can use to make sound financial decisions, while building and preserving their assets in the process.

NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities, and the Citi Foundation, which supports economic empowerment and financial inclusion, are partners in the Financial Capability Demonstration Project, a $5 million, 2.5 year initiative begun in mid-2010. The initiative aims to significantly expand the number of financial capability coaches to provide low- and moderate-income Americans with the vital financial education, coaching and planning services needed to enable families nationwide to build savings, pay down debt and better manage their finances over the course of their lives. Financial coaching is a new element in the financial capability toolkit that aims to empower individuals to better manage their financial lives. As many as 65,000 people may benefit from this project.

Financial coaching helps clients improve their financial behavior to achieve self-determined financial goals such as reducing debt, building credit or saving for the future. Individuals form ongoing personal relationships with their coach who helps them develop a personalized plan to accomplish their financial goals. Financial coaches offer encouragement and guidance as their clients shift attitudes and behaviors about their finances and hold them accountable for making day-to-day choices that can help or hinder them from achieving their goals. Coaching is part of the movement towards the broader concept of financial capability that focuses on helping people make real changes to their financial behavior versus traditional financial literacy programs that focus more on building consumers' financial knowledge.

"NeighborWorks America works to revitalize communities, and that begins with individuals and families. By offering these financial capability programs, we more effectively turn consumers' knowledge into sustainable action over the course of their financial lives," said NeighborWorks America CEO Eileen Fitzgerald.

"At Citi, financial inclusion is at the core of our mission. Through our innovative partnership with NeighborWorks America, thousands of underserved Americans will receive access to the financial services, information and ongoing guidance they need to make informed decisions that will lead to greater financial stability and independence," said Brandee McHale, Citi Foundation Chief Operating Officer.

"You all gave me hope. I thought I would live in the bondage of debt forever. My coach's words of wisdom and knowledge gave me the courage and direction and the results are coming in. I still have a ways to go, but at least the road is not as long as it first appeared. I appreciate how this program has helped my daughter and me," said Nakia Davis, a client of The Unity Council in Oakland, California. The Unity Council is a part of the Financial Capability Demonstration project and is also a member of the NeighborWorks America network, which supports more than 235 nonprofits located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, offering free and low-cost advisory services to thousands of individuals and families.

Financial capability coaching can be particularly valuable as the country emerges from the economic turmoil of the past several years and families and individuals focus on rebuilding their financial lives and achieving their long-term financial goals.

About NeighborWorks America NeighborWorksAmerica creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $19.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation's leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.