Delaware's financial empowerment partnership $tand By Me will mark its first anniversary of free one-on-one financial coaching with an invitation-only June 11 event with Gov. Jack Markell at the Christiana Hilton.
In its first year, $tand By Me has coached more than 1,200 individuals, helping them to address such issues as credit card debt, understanding credit scores, buying a home, paying for college and saving for retirement. Financial empowerment is a priority of Gov. Markell, who embraces economic security for Delawareans as a core element of his economic development strategy.
At the June 11 anniversary event, $tand By Me will announce the availability of seven financial services that were designed by nonprofit organizations and financial institutions to better meet the needs of individuals seeking short-term loans, access to debt and credit cards, and checking accounts.
Since the first financial empowerment center launched at the Hudson State Service Center in Newark in May 2011, $tand By Me's services have expanded to include the Wilmington and Stanton campuses of Delaware Technical & Community College, West End Neighborhood House and the Claymont Community Center. $tand By Me financial coaches also are available on-site at employer locations in New Castle and Kent counties, including the ShopRite Supermarkets, the Christiana Hilton, Walgreens, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.
"Our work with employers connects our priorities around economic development and personal financial empowerment," Gov. Markell said. "Because we are locating on-site services with employers, we make it easy for people to access the financial help they need. Financial coaching helps hard-working Delawareans increase a sense of control over their lives, allowing them to better focus on their jobs."
The Delaware Financial Empowerment Partnership is a joint project of the State of Delaware and the United Way of Delaware. $tand By Me provides financially vulnerable low- and moderate-income Delawareans with one-on-one financial coaching; help navigating college and financial aid applications; access to consumer-friendly alternatives to pay-day loans and check cashing stores; assistance with requesting and interpreting credit scores; and financial planning support to help them increase their own economic security.
"Financial stability is not an issue of concern only to nonprofits and public agencies," said Mary Dupont, director of $tand By Me and director of Financial Empowerment in the Department of Health and Social Services. "It's hard to focus on lofty goals and achieve peace of mind when you're worried day and night about financial problems. This is something that is understood by employers and educational institutions who want to see their employees and students succeed and achieve their goals of employment, promotion, and graduation."
DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf, who pushed for financial coaches to serve DHSS employees, sees the need for financial empowerment across the state.
"We serve hundreds of thousands of Delawareans every day who are struggling to make ends meet and to move forward in these challenging economic times," Landgraf said. "That is why $tand By Me's message of economic self-sufficiency is so important. For many individuals, no matter their financial status, they need to hear that supportive message from a financial coach. I am so pleased that we could bring $tand By Me's financial coaching to our employees at DHSS."
"This program is an invaluable, unique resource for Delawareans," said Michelle A. Taylor, president and CEO of the United Way of Delaware. "It's not a prescriptive program. The financial coaches don't tell the clients what their financial goals should be. The coaches listen to the clients, and come up with a plan of action based on the client's personal financial goals."
Patricia Scott, a current client who came to $tand By Me with a serious debt situation, has reduced her debt by approximately $15,000 after acting on her one-on-one coaching. Scott is a confirmed believer in the coaching process and has a renewed confidence in her ability to get her financial life in order.
In addition to one-on-one coaching, $tand By Me provides assistance with referrals to other community partners, promotes resources on its website, including an Ask An Expert section, and assists families with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
For more information about $tand By Me, go to www.standbymede.org, or contact Mary Dupont at (302) 255-9245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.