Financial Opportunity Center - A Framework for Results, Community Action Duluth


Community Action Duluth (CAD) has transformed our agency through the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) model. This bundled approach to providing services allowed our program participants to ultimately have better outcomes. The main services coordinated under the FOC are employment services and coaching, green jobs, financial services and coaching, free tax prep, income supports and community engagement. Now the goal for participants when they enter CAD is to be provided with as many holistic, comprehensive and coordinated services as possible and to track outcomes in a cohesive unified way through the agency. Transforming our agency took vision, leadership, willingness to change, ability to evaluate and respond and perseverance to the cause. After 3 years of outcomes, it’s still exciting to see the power of bundled services coupled with agency coordination demonstrating that participants involved in multiple programs truly achieve better results in the areas of increased income, job retention, improved credit score and increased net worth!

The coordinated effort to bring participants into both financial and employment services with income support screening and coaching is going well. In the first year, 240 participants enrolled in the FOC and to-date 675 participants are getting on-going coaching services. Success is measured by getting people into 2 of 3 services and 3 of 3 services. The initial year’s results proved that 171 people were receiving 2 and 3 services or 71.3% of all participants – a huge jump when previously just 10-15% of people got more than one service before our FOC model change. Now however, 3 years into the model, 508 of the 675 participants are in bundled services or 75.2%. This level of effort is also tracked by frequency of contact between coach and participant. In the first year 10% of participants only saw a coach one time, 24% saw their coach between 2-4 time and 66% saw their coach over 5 times. Now, our frequency of contact has also increased with 6% seeing a coach just once, 27% between 2-4 time and 67% over 5 times.

Outcomes for people in more than one service also speak volumes for the work and benefits of bundling. The major financial outcomes that the FOC is tracking are Increases in Net Income, Increases in Net Worth, and Increases in Credit Score. Additional key outcomes are tracked for employment retention, 30, 90, 180 and 365 days. In the first year of tracking FOC outcomes, 30 people increased net income, 42 people increased net worth and 47 people increased credit scores. Today, 153 people increased net income, 156 people increased net worth and 187 people increased credit scores.