Free financial planning counselors will serve low-income Philadelphians

What began five years ago as a New York City-based pilot program aimed at alleviating poverty will now be expanded to Philadelphia and four other cities with the award of a $3.3 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies through the Living Cities’ Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, the city announced yesterday.

The money will enable the construction of Financial Empowerment Centers where the city, in conjunction with nonprofit firm Clarifi, will offer free one-on-one financial counseling to low-income residents.

“We know one of the key pathways out of poverty is to increase the financial stability of low-income households by boosting income, decreasing debt and increasing access to saving and asset-building opportunities,” Mayor Michael Nutter said in a statement. “By offering personalized financial literacy services to low-income individuals, we make it possible for Philadelphia families to move toward self-sufficiency and, ultimately, better position our city economically for the future.”

Two empowerment centers and four satellite locations will open this March in neighborhoods with high concentrations of low-income residents, immigrants and new workforce entrants. They have a goal of educating 9,000 low-income Philadelphians in the program’s first three years.

“As a nonprofit provider of financial counseling to over 600,000 individuals in the Philadelphia region for 47 years, Clarifi is committed and excited to expand its resources to support the Financial Empowerment initiative,” Clarifi president Patty Hasson said in a statement.

The Financial Empowerment initiative is also expanding to Denver, Nashville, San Antonio and Lansing, Mich. The five cities were chosen based on the presence of committed leadership and strong public-private partnerships to move the program forward.

“The city of Philadelphia has demonstrated a real desire to help families achieve long-term financial stability,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

“The Mayors Project at Bloomberg Philanthropies spreads effective solutions to challenges that cities across the county are facing. We hope through this grant that the effective Financial Empowerment Center model will create measurable change for low-income residents in Philadelphia.”

By the numbers


Cities were chosen to receive grants.

$16.2 million

Was invested in the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund by Bloomberg Philanthropies to provide the grants.


Low-income Philadelphians will be educated in the program’s first three years.


New Yorkers have reduced their debt by more than $9 million since the program began there five years ago.

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