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Community Financial Centers aim to help Clevelanders achieve financial security

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress vice president of economic opportunity Evelyn Burnett

Joel Ratner, president and CEO of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress

Cleveland Neighborhood Progress wants Clevelanders to have a better understanding of their finances. So, in partnership with Charter One and other local organizations, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress will now offer individualized financial planning and management services through its Community Financial Centers.

“While Cleveland has a lot of programs, none of them support the needs really well,” explains Cleveland Neighborhood Progress vice president of economic opportunity Evelyn Burnett. “We wanted to give them something that addressed the quality issue.”
 
Community Financial Centers are built around the premise that all residents, regardless of income, deserve high quality financial coaching and counseling services. Services focus on financial planning, budget management, savings, credit building and planning for the future.

CFC aims to offer Cleveland residents a leg up towards financial stability. Cleveland remains one of the poorest cities in the country despite our improving national reputation. Many of our citizens suffer from financial insecurity that stands in sharp contrast to the near-constant stream of positive news coming out of downtown. 

"We don’t do cash advances. We aren’t a predatory lender," states the CFC website. "We aren’t even a bank. We’re a team of financial managers, collectively dedicated to helping individuals take better control of their finances. That means we aren’t here to take advantage of you or sell you something—we’re here to answer your questions, and provide you the resources you need to bring more financial stability into your life."

"CFC's services are different because we commit ourselves to individual success, and we’ll do everything we can to help you change your financial situation for the better."

The financial centers will be staffed by people with strong financial planning backgrounds who know how to navigate the different areas of managing money. People at all income levels with just about any financial concern – whether it’s retirement planning or paying the rent on time each month -- can benefit from the centers. “It’s all about relationships,” says Burnett. “It’s built around trust and we will navigate the financial road with you.”

“More than half of the adult population in the U.S. could benefit from better financial advice to improve their money management,” said Joel Ratner, CEO of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, in a release. “By offering programs and services targeted to residents with different levels of financial knowledge in convenient settings such as their employer or neighborhood library, we feel that we can reach more people and make a real impact on their financial future.”
 
Initially, the Community Financial Centers and the advisors will be housed through employers and non-profit organizations. The Cleveland Public Library is the first institution to incorporate a center for its employees. The City of Cleveland was also an early supporter of the Community Financial Centers. Funders include Saint Luke’s FoundationCuyahoga Community College, United Way of Greater Cleveland, JP Morgan Chase, Woodforest National Bank and Third Federal Foundation.
 
The service is free. Individuals who want to make an appointment can do so on the Community Financial Centers website.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 18 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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