Individual Wealth Building

The Professionalizing Field of Financial Counseling and Coaching Journal

Edited by Jonathan Mintz

With nearly ten million households in the U.S. lacking a bank account, many families face challenges building wealth. However, with financial counseling and coaching, families can work towards financial security. This new collection of essays from Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE Fund) and Citi Community Development highlights this potential and brings together the perspectives of leading experts in the field. The essays share strategies for building cultural competency, accessing public funding opportunities, and scaling and professionalizing efforts. 

The Racial Wealth Gap: Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gap through Business Ownership

Joyce Klein and Jenna Liang

While business ownership is seen as a vehicle for wealth building, research from the Asset Funders Network finds that Latino and African American business owners are frequently excluded from this opportunity. With lower levels of family wealth to invest, lower levels of experience in family-owned businesses, and limited access to markets, the wealth gap continues. To reduce disparities, the Asset Funders Network calls on philanthropic funders to direct investment toward cooperatively owned businesses and CDFIs and to support policy efforts that direct public resources and contracting opportunities to CDFIs and business owned by people of color.


With roots dating back to 1908, WiNGS is a Dallas-based nonprofit focused on helping area women find a path to a better life.  Through its Financial Empowerment Program, women can access free financial training, one-on-one financial coaching, banking products, benefit screenings, and matched savings of up to $4,000. WiNGS Women’s Enterprise Center supports female entrepreneurs interested in opening small businesses by providing training and technical assistance, mentorship, and access to capital.  In 2015, WiNGS supported over 360 women, with 6 starting new businesses and 17 becoming new homeowners.


Founded in 1988 as the Central Dallas Food Pantry, CitySquare adopted its current name in 2010 to make the case that fighting poverty involves uniting the entire community in the heart of the city.  With a mission to fight the causes and effects of poverty through service, advocacy, and friendship, CitySquare runs a range of social service programs that serve about 50,000 people a year.  Key programs include financial empowerment, which matches poor working families with coaches who help them build assets, and workforce development, which placed 279 people in jobs in 2015.  In 2001, the nonprofit created an affiliate CDC, Central Dallas Community Development Corporation, to develop affordable and supportive housing.  A joint project now under development is Cottages at Hickory Crossing, a $6.8 million housing project across from CitySquare’s main building. When completed, it will include 50 cottages for formerly homeless individuals in a village that encompasses a community garden and a range of services to meet residents’ needs.

The Color of Entrepreneurship: Why the Racial Gap Among Firms Costs the U.S. Billions

Algernon Austin

“America is currently forgoing an estimated 1.1 million businesses owned by people of color because of past and present discrimination,” writes Algernon Austin, author of this new report from the Center for Global Policy Solutions. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, Austin finds that the country would produce an estimated 9 million more jobs and have $300 billion more in national income if entrepreneurship amongst people of color were proportional to their distribution in the labor force. To address this, Austin recommends creating tax credits to incentivize investments in minority-owned businesses, expanding the number of Minority Business Development Agencies, and utilizing alternative credit data for those with limited credit histories. 

Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development

Founded in the mid-1990s to help address the social, academic, and spiritual needs of at-risk and disenfranchised African American and biracial children in the greater Madison area, the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development aims to transform the face of leadership in Madison by empowering African American families and African American males. Read more about Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development...

Madison Development Corporation (MDC)

Founded as a quasi-public economic development organization in 1977, Madison Development Corporation (MDC) has a two-fold mission:  1) to create quality employment opportunities by making loans to hard-to-finance small businesses, and 2) to provide quality, affordable housing for area residents.  MDC is credited with lending more than $20 million to over 300 businesses—creating 4,000 jobs, most paying at least twice the federal minimum wage.  It also owns 206 affordable apartment units, many of which are in older commercial buildings that MDC redeveloped. Read more about Madison Development Corporation (MDC)...

ACTION-Housing Inc.

Founded in 1957, ACTION-Housing empowers people to build more secure and self-sufficient lives by providing decent affordable housing, essential supportive services, asset building programs, and educational and employment opportunities.  Since 1985, ACTION-Housing has developed or assisted in the development of over 4,500 units of housing for the elderly, people with disabilities, homeless individuals, veterans, and working families.  It also has a Family Savings Account Program, which will match, dollar for dollar, participants’ savings that will be used to purchase a home, educate themselves or a child, or start a new business.  Since the program’s inception in 2002, 416 people have reached their savings goals.

The Color of Wealth in Los Angeles

Melany De La Cruz-Viesca et al.

This new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco seeks to better understand the factors that influence and create disparities in wealth accumulation, particularly intergenerational resource transfers, historical context, and local asset markets. Researchers draw on data from the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color (NASCC) survey, the first of its kind, to assess wealth disparities among different racial and ethnic groups in Los Angeles and inform multifaceted policy solutions tailored to distinct community needs.

HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton

Founded in 2002 by St. Mary Development, HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton is an independent nonprofit aiming to empower people to achieve and sustain homeownership and financial success.  Programs include financial education classes, homebuyer classes and coaching, and down payment assistance.  The nonprofit is credited with facilitating more than 500 new mortgages and helping more than 3,500 families avoid foreclosure. Read more about HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton...

Minority Business Partnership

Minority Business Partnership (MBP) aims to grow Dayton-area minority business enterprises by advocating for increased minority business participation in supply chains and facilitating strategic business partnerships.  Established as the Minority Economic Development Council by The Dayton Foundation and The Dayton Business Committee in 2007 to foster strong local minority businesses, the group was renamed MBP in 2010 and brought under the umbrella of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.  As of 2012, MBP was working with 27 minority businesses and had 136 buyers and suppliers registered on its “bid portal,” which connects minority businesses to procurement opportunities.

Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton (LEAD)

Founded in 1992, Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton (LEAD) is an organization comprised of a diverse array of Dayton-area congregations seeking to empower and prepare people of faith to work for a greater degree of justice in Montgomery County.  Concerned about inequities between area neighborhoods, LEAD created its Dayton Works Initiative in 2014 to explore the common ownership of productive assets that could anchor capital and jobs locally.  LEAD is now working on a two-year research project in collaboration with the City of Dayton and Cincinnati-based cooperatives to determine what types of cooperatives could succeed in the area and identify anchor institutions and funding to support the project.

Mercy Connections

Mercy Connections is a nonprofit working to nurture self-sufficiency through education, mentoring, and community engagement.  Its Women’s Small Business Program provides one-on-one financial empowerment coaching as well as a range of classes to help women evaluate the merits of self-employment and develop business plans.  In FY 2014-15, it is credited with helping 18 women start or expand businesses.

Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO)

Founded in 1965, the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) aims to provide individuals with basic needs in times of crisis and to help them develop the knowledge, skills, and assets needed to thrive into the future.  Headquartered in Burlington, the nonprofit serves over 25,000 people a year in northwest Vermont.  In 2014, its micro-business development program catalyzed 76 business start-ups and expansions, creating 87 new jobs, and its free income tax program served 1,246 households, returning $1.8 million to the state economy.  CVOEO also offers an Individual Account Development (IDA) program, which matches every $1 saved to purchase a first home, finance post-secondary education, or start or expand a business with another $2 over a two year period.

Capital Area Housing Finance Corporation

Established in 1981 to help provide affordable homes to workers in Central Texas, Capital Area Housing Finance Corporation now serves families across nine Central Texas counties.  The Austin-based nonprofit’s Single Family Housing program, which provides first-time homebuyers with down payment assistance, is credited with helping 3,500 people purchase homes.  Its Multi-Family Housing program finances the construction or acquisition of below-market rate rental properties and is credited with financing 3,500 units.

Profeta Urban Investment Foundation

Profeta Urban Investment Foundation helps launch and expand minority businesses in Newark by providing encouragement, expertise, and interest-free loans to entrepreneurial, minority-owned businesses wanting to open or grow in Newark.  Committed to supporting the revitalization and renaissance of Newark, the nonprofit specifically helps businesses that return value to the city by making jobs available to residents and providing the goods and services that residents need.  Since its establishment in 2007, Profeta Urban Investment Foundation has helped launch six minority-owned businesses. Read more about Profeta Urban Investment Foundation...

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

Established in 1999 by the Alan V. and Amy Lowenstein Foundation, The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) is a Newark-based urban research and advocacy organization dedicated to the advancement of New Jersey’s urban areas and residents. To achieve its objectives, NJISJ focuses on policy-related research, development and implementation of model programs, advocacy efforts, litigation when appropriate, and sustained public education. Its Workforce Development and Training Programs prepare residents in the greater Newark region for meaningful employment, and since 2001, have served over 1,000 residents (with over 500 entering higher-wage construction and building trades).  In 2011, NJISJ began an Anchor Institutions Initiative, which aims to increase the number of construction, service, and maintenance positions available to urban residents by bringing together diverse partners to assess the incorporation of community benefit terms into bond covenants for construction of large-scale facilities by anchor institutions.