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Lessons Learned from the NeighborWorks Financial Capability Learning Lab


Lessons Learned from the NeighborWorks Financial Capability Learning Lab

Author(s)/Creator(s): NeighborWorks America

NeighborWorks America developed the Financial Capability Learning Lab to provide six NeighborWorks organizations with the opportunity to test and launch new strategies to address critical marketplace needs and help move the field forward. The primary goals of the Learning Lab were to strengthen the capacity of selected organizations to deliver financial capability services and identify scalable solutions for the financial capability field. NeighborWorks America's role was to provide the space, structure and support over one year for selected NeighborWorks organizations to innovate and increase their capacity to deliver financial capability services. Resources included:
  • Operating grants for program implementation.
  • Tailored technical assistance, coaching and accountability from an experienced program consultant on program design, implementation and best practices.
  • Evaluation assistance on Success Measures financial capability tools to learn from the project and track client outcomes.
  • Virtual peer-learning opportunities to raise awareness of common strengths and struggles related to service delivery.
  • Technical training from subject matter experts on project themes, such as engagement, retention and partnerships.
Themes and Trends
From the outset, the Learning Lab aimed to help bridge knowledge gaps and solve challenges related to service delivery that are common in the financial capability field. The organizations in the Learning Lab explored four distinct themes, each with a corresponding set of strategies:
  • Customer engagement — how to identify a target audience and engage them in services.
  • Service integration — how to seamlessly integrate financial capability into existing housing and community development services.
  • Customer retention — how to keep customers in programs long enough to achieve outcomes and improve financial lives.
  • Safe and affordable financial products — how to form collaborations with the financial services industry to ensure that customers have access to safe and affordable products.
This report includes two case studies: Learning lab organizations included:
  • AHC Inc., which serves the mid-Atlantic region
  • Champlain Housing Trust, headquartered in Burlington, Vermont
  • Coastal Enterprises, Inc., which serves Maine
  • The Neighborhood Developers/CONNECT, headquartered in Chelsea, Massachusetts
  • NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Origin SC, which serves South Carolina

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