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Media Coverage | ‘The tools they need’: Allegheny County enters into new financial empowerment program

Feb 7, 2024

By: CIARA MCENEANY | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Read the full article

File -- Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato speaks at Mill 19 in Hazelwood on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. On Monday, Neighborhood Allies, a nonprofit focused on promoting financial equity, and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services announced the launch of the Allegheny County Financial Empowerment Center. “We are extremely excited to ... bring this service to scale across the entire county,” Ms. Innamorato said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Evan Robinson-Johnson/Post-Gazette

Neighborhood Allies, a nonprofit focused on promoting financial equity, and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services announced the launch of the Allegheny County Financial Empowerment Center.

The Financial Empowerment Center is designed to provide county residents with free professional financial counseling from Pittsburgh-based Advantage Credit Counseling Service, Inc., Neighborhood Allies said in a statement.

Financial Empowerment Centers, backed by the New York-based Cities for Financial Empowerment fund, help clients address financial challenges in areas such as debt management, increasing savings, establishing and building credit, and obtaining affordable bank accounts. The launch follows Neighborhood Allies’ partnership with the City of Pittsburgh to create the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center, which opened in 2019. 

“We are extremely excited to be able to build upon the successes that Neighborhood Allies and the City of Pittsburgh have accomplished and to bring this service to scale across the entire county,” County Executive Sara Innamorato said Monday in the statement. “The FECs provide residents with the knowledge and tools they need to achieve their financial goals and to thrive.”

The new center will also “strategically align” with direct DHS services to help youth aging out of foster care and people facing fines or fees, among others, Neighborhood Allies said.

“Advantage is thrilled to partner with DHS and to continue our relationship with Neighborhood Allies and Cities for Financial Empowerment as the counseling partner for the Allegheny County FEC,” said Heather Murray, vice president of Advantage Credit Counseling Service, Inc. “The mission of the FEC goes hand in hand with Advantage’s 55-year commitment to provide financial counseling services to Allegheny County residents.”

Since 2019, the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center has served over 2,200 residents, according to Neighborhood Allies. Through the center, 1,000 delinquent accounts have been reduced, 566 residents saw credit score increases, and 283 residents opened new bank accounts.

“Already, thousands of Pittsburgh residents have reduced $6.3 million in debt and built $2.7 million in savings through the Financial Empowerment Center, just one of 31 operating across the country,” said Jonathan Mintz, president and chief executive officer of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and its partners at Neighborhood Allies and Advantage Credit Counseling Service to expand FEC services.”

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA