Who We Are
Financial Empowerment Centers through the United Way are family-friendly places where hard-working, low-income people can access a full range of services to move themselves out of poverty and achieve long-term financial stability.
Each FEC brings together the most effective nonprofit and government partners to help clients grow income, build assets, manage debt, and improve credit. Britepaths, Inc. has a proven track record of improving lives through teaching personal finance. As the lead nonprofit administrator of the FEC in South County, Britepaths is seeking partners to provide services that empower the clients of the Route 1 corridor. Financial Empowerment Center clients work with a coach, who helps them create a step-by-step plan to set and achieve personal financial goals. Because change does not happen overnight, FECs commit to working with clients for as long as three years each to help them achieve their financial goals.
The launch of a Financial Empowerment Center in Fairfax County builds on a rich history of investment in the community by both United Way of the National Capital Area and the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. It also aligns with ambitious community goals shared by both entities. With input from residents, stakeholders and partners, United Way NCA recently launched a five year “Community Commitment” to help families move towards financial security. Key to this plan is the creation of up to six Financial Empowerment Centers across the region to address to address resource gaps and silos in services offered to low and moderate incomed individuals.
Within Fairfax County, despite the overall wealth, many residents face substantial economic challenges. Over the past few years, the area has witnessed a higher growth in poverty compared to Washington DC, due to the increasing suburbanization of poverty. With the high cost of living in the county, it is difficult to meet basic needs exclusively through low-wage employment. Conditions associated with poverty also can limit an individual’s ability to develop the skills, abilities, knowledge, and habits necessary to gully participate in the labor force. We strive to empower clients will personal financial tools and supportive services. We listen and respond to clients’ needs with an improved grasp on their finances, our clients feel more in charge of their lives and are more likely to sustain self-sufficiency.
Building economic independence that is multi-generational helps to provide a pathway out of poverty, which is critical given that today within the county more two-adult working households are living at 125% of the federal poverty level. To address and collaboratively impact this challenge, Fairfax County government, businesses, community members, and community-based organizations are working together on the following goals:
- Increase levels of educational attainment to increase employability and future earnings
- Increase access to work and work supports necessary for stable employment
- Increase successful transitions from government safety net services to economic independence
- Increase individuals’ ability to be financially resilient
Key to the fourth of these goals is expanding the availability and coordination of financial capability services in the county. This includes services that increase credit, increase income, decrease debt, and increase savings.