City of Gaithersburg Launches Financial Empowerment Center

Per the City of Gaithersburg:
The City of Gaithersburg, in partnership with the national Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), announced today the grand opening of its Financial Empowerment Center (FEC), offering professional, one-on-one financial counseling and coaching as a free public service for City residents. Visit www.gaithersburgmd.gov/fec for more information or to make an appointment.

With the Gaithersburg FEC, professionally trained financial counselors help individuals and families manage their finances, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit, improve their credit score, and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products. At the core of the FEC model is the integration of counseling into other social services, such as housing and foreclosure prevention, workforce development, benefits access, domestic violence services, and more. The Gaithersburg FEC is a partnership with Housing Initiative Partnership (HIP), a local nonprofit housing developer and counseling agency that contracts with the City to provide the counseling services.

“Gaithersburg is an economically diverse city,” says Mayor Jud Ashman. “This program fits our history of offering opportunities to help our residents flourish. Financial stability is good for families, good for local businesses, and good for the community.”

“Gaithersburg is at the forefront of local governments investing in financial empowerment for residents. As we all recover from the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the Financial Empowerment Center is a key strategy to help our residents thrive,” says Council Member Ryan Spiegel.

Since March of 2022, 70 clients of the Gaithersburg FEC have saved a total of $73,473 and paid down $34,079 in debt.

Appointments can be virtual or in-person, and are available in English, Spanish, and other languages. Clients can also access the Gaithersburg Financial Empowerment Center at the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center in the Gaithersburg Public Library. Thanks to this partnership with the Gilchrist Center and the public library, FEC staff will be available on the second floor of the library on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“Local leaders know first-hand the connection between family financial stability and community financial stability – and this connection is especially important during ongoing COVID-19 recovery,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “The City of Gaithersburg is part of a growing national movement to bring free, high-quality financial counseling as a public service to their residents; we are proud to partner with Gaithersburg to help residents navigate the financial impact of COVID-19 and work towards a stronger financial future.”

First piloted in New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008, FECs across the country have worked with almost 133,000 clients, helping them reduce individual debt by over $192 million, and increasing their families’ savings by close to $38 million. In addition, a CFE Fund evaluationshowed that this program works even for residents with very low incomes and other complex financial challenges. The City of Gaithersburg is one of several dozen local governments working to launch or have already launched a local FEC initiative. The Gaithersburg FEC is supported by the CFE Fund and the City of Gaithersburg.

The City of Gaithersburg was recently ranked 7thBest Place to Live for Families in the U.S. by Fortune Well. The FEC was among several programs that earned the City’s high ranking.

Gaithersburg’s FEC is rooted in the City’s history of supporting residents to achieve economic stability and thrive. In 2009, the City adopted the Bank On Gaithersburg initiative, a partnership with banks and nonprofits to offer financial education, vocational and housing support, and connect unbanked residents with safe, low-fee bank accounts. Gaithersburg’s Community Services division also convenes a Financial Wellness Coalition, a partnership between government, nonprofits, and financial institutions which educates local residents and supports the free Montgomery County Community Action Agency’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The financial wellness initiative is aligned with the City’s mission, vision and values and is integrated into the newly adopted Strategic Plan.

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