IMPACT AREA SPOTLIGHT

Financial Empowerment Program

IMPACT AREA SPOTLIGHT

Financial Empowerment

“The Financial Empowerment programs teach young adults who have been in foster care how to budget, save, and invest in themselves and their futures. Our dedicated staff is committed to filling in the gaps that were left by not always having supportive adults in their lives.”

– Hannah Milner, Director of Health & Financial Well-Being

From Paycheck to Paycheck to Homeowner

At just 24, she bought her first home.

Through Foster Success’s Credit Build program, Elizabeth raised her credit score by more than 100 points in a year. Last September — equipped with a credit score of 700 — she closed on a house in Milltown, Indiana, about 30 miles from Louisville.

Credit Build supports young adults, who have been in foster care, establish and build credit through guided savings and loan repayment.

In collaboration with our national partners, Foster Success works with eligible young people and supports them in opening a $300 credit-building loan. Participants make 12 monthly payments of approximately $28 a month into a locked savings account. Each successful payment is reported to all three credit bureaus, increasing credit scores each month.

After the loan is paid off, the $300 is returned to participants to continue building their financial wellness.

Elizabeth, who spent time in Indiana’s foster care system, was introduced to Foster Success through the Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program when she started college at Indiana University – Southeast. She also participated in the Opportunity Passport™ program.

Her ultimate goal, though, was to buy her own home, but with her credit score in the 500s, she wasn’t in a financial place to get approved for a mortgage. So, Director of Health & Financial Well-Being, Hannah Milner, introduced her to Credit Build.

“I had no clue why having good credit was so important and I had no clue how to get to that point. I didn’t have anyone to teach me or explain things like that to me. It was very difficult to get approved for things,” Elizabeth said.

Impact Financial Empowerment Elizabeth couple
She was renting a two-bedroom apartment, working at a fast food restaurant, and living paycheck to paycheck.

She was one of 10 Credit Build participants last year, and one of 387 Financial Empowerment participants. The largest percent of young people responding to the most recent impact survey said Foster Success helped the most with finances and money (69%). But a quarter of them said income and finances have gotten worse in the last year.

As part of the Credit Build program, participants are connected with a financial coach to support them on their financial wellness journeys.

“Definitely take it seriously. Really listen to the advice that’s being given to you. If you do have questions, do not be afraid to ask them. No question is a dumb question,” Elizabeth said. “Going into it, I didn’t realize how the program really worked. I was kind of waiting to see.”

“I didn’t realize my score would go up so much in a year. I didn’t realize how much it would actually help.”

Credit Build is also a learning experience. Participants take a survey at the beginning and end of the year. But it’s Hannah who Elizabeth credits with her success in the program.

“Every time I meet with her and talk to her, it feels like someone who genuinely cares,” she said. “Back then, I would’ve never thought I’d achieve and do the things I have now — owning a home and about to get married and having a great job. I never thought I’d be where I am today.”

Today, Elizabeth works in the billing department at an area nonprofit that supports families on their journey to self-sufficiency. She is engaged to be married and welcomed a baby boy this fall. She is pursuing a business degree. Their goal is to one day own a family business.

Impact Financial Empowerment Elizabeth house

Young people supported

$135K

$135,400 distributed to young people

%

Of young people say Foster Success helps the most with money/finances

%

A third of young people said they do not know how to manage their money/finances

%

A quarter of young people said their money/finances have gotten worse over the last year

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