Financial Opportunity Center® Resources
Financial Opportunity Center® Resources

Client Services & Coaching

Running a Financial Opportunity Center® site and using the Integrated Services Delivery model with coaching for financial, employment, and income supports will often require new models for working with clients and new information about opportunities or ideas for them, as well. This section has resources from LISC, consultants and partners, and other leaders in the field.

Resources for FOC Service Areas

Financial Coaching
Employment Counseling
Income Supports
Digital Learning
Financial Coaching

Financial Coaching  helps clients improve their money management while setting action plans to achieve short and long-term financial goals. Through this process, individuals assess their income, spending habits, and then make decisions unique to their situation to stabilize their economic outlook and grow their assets. 


The Financial Coaching Approach 

LISC’s FOC partners employ a collaborative, results-oriented, and personal asset-based process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of personal financial management. Coaches are facilitators and partners, not traditional case managers. They help clients build self-efficacy through articulating their long-term vision and setting a series of short- and medium-term goals that can help them realize that vision. Coaches identify and celebrate small wins of the client, and the behavior changes that led to those milestones. Over time, as clients begin to see concrete returns from work, their financial position and life outlook transitions from deficit- to asset-based, and a cascading series of positive consequences ensue as residents become empowered to set and achieve their own life goals.  


Financial Coaching’s Impact 

Over the course of 15 years of launching and scaling our FOC network, LISC has seen both in the stories from our partners, and in our data the power of financial coaching to reinforce the success of complementary services like employment coaching, enhance outcomes, and change lives.  A LISC analysis of data for 40,000 FOC participants found that those who engaged intensively in FOC services and received financial coaching in addition to employment and income supports services were nearly twice as likely to get jobs as participants who received only one service.  See below for more about financial coaching and training opportunities. 

Setting Financial Goals

Goal setting is at the the heart of financial coaching and central to a client's success. It helps clients to create a concrete pathway that leads them to obtain their financial objectives.  In a study from Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight, behavioral science takes center stage, as researchers consider what motivates clients at LISC Financial Opportunity Center® sites. It offers a new ways to increase retention in the program so that more people have the chance to improve their financial outlook. Learn more about applying behavioral science to increase retention Financial Coaching.

Impact Areas

Managing Expenses

Having a full picture of income and expenses is an important first step to achieve personal 

financial goals. 

Building Wealth

It represents the client's overall financial health and the current economic state, assets and liabilities. To help clients improve and grow their net worth is essential to have banking and savings as part of the conversation. 

Credit is an Asset

Good credit can pave the way to better jobs, lower interest rates and asset building. Strong credit can amount to significant savings over a lifetime by allowing clients the opportunity to access safe and affordable financial products. 

Budgeting is an essential tool to save money instead of overspending and enables clients to maximize their income. 

  • How to create a budget and stick with it. (available in Spanish)  

  •  Financial Outcomes Visual - This a one-page flow chart shows a client the basics of a budget (how a variety of income minus expenses becomes net income) and balance sheet (how a mix of assets minus liabilities becomes net worth). 

Banking is a critical element of the financial system that provides specialized financial products and services to build assets. 

  • Finding a Bank - compare institutions and checking accounts based on location

  • The #GetBanked initiative is an effort that kicked off near the beginning of the pandemic when the first round of Economic Impact Payments (stimulus payments) were released. Check out, this webpage is available in English and Spanish and has dedicated resources that address some of the questions that consumers may have about why it’s important to have a bank account.

Savings in the near-term, provides a buffer against financial crisis and a pathway to achieve financial goals. As participants work with coaches over time, savings leads to assets and generational wealth.

Now: Saving for now means building enough funds to support three to six months of expenses. Short-term savings are often done in a savings account or through a FinTech product. Funds are accessible and meant to be used when needed.


Soon: Often, financial goals are linked to savings over the next year or couple of years.  Saving for soon often includes saving for a car, purchase like a computer or even a vacation. Depending on the time horizon, savings could be held in a high yield savings account or even a certificate of deposit (CD).


Later: Savings for later is often the most impactful and difficult to begin. This type of savings is important for retirement, children’s education, or major purchase like a home. Savings for later are typically held in difficult to access accounts and/or charge a penalty for early withdrawal. 

Read more about saving products for LMI individuals from Prosperity Now | Saving for Now, Soon, Later

Credit Scores - Recognizing where clients’ score currently stands is the first step. Coaches can help clients in pulling a credit report and explain how to read and develop an action plan. is a free website that allows clients to check credit. Watch this short video lessonto learn more. 

Debt - 30% of the credit scores are calculated based on the amount owed and 35% for the payment history; therefore, collections and late payments can significantly impact credit scores. According to the Federal Trade Commission; debt collectors produce more complaints than any other industry. Some debt collectors do not comply with consumer protection laws. 

Financial Coaching Guides & Resources

Mastering the Coaching Approach
This two-page fact sheet from the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison gives the big picture on financial coaching, with a focus on its “A|4 Model,” which structures the process with alliance, agenda, awareness and action. Here are more coaching tools from University of Wisconsin.

Financial Coaching Certifications

Credit Builders Alliance – CBA Training Institute 


Neighborworks Training Institutes 


The National Financial Educators Council 



Financial Education

regulates the offering and provision of consumer financial products or services under the federal consumer financial laws, educates, and empowers consumers to make better-informed financial decisions.     


CFPB offers Your Money, Your Goals Toolkit, a set of financial empowerment materials for organizations that help people meet their financial goals. Most are in the form of one or two-page documents on a variety of topics. 

Money Smart – Created by the FDIC. Participants are required to register and then they are connected to an online learning platform that walks them through different topics. 


Better Money Habits - Clear, simple videos, lists and graphics explain different aspects of 20 personal financial issues in this website that can be used by clients, created by Bank of America and Khan Academy.  


Hands On Banking – A Wells Fargo supported site that is not branded. Provides articles in English and Spanish on key topics. Also has lesson plans for kids and articles targeted for seniors, military and young adults.

Ally Wallet Wise is a free financial education program created by Ally Financial that teaches consumers the basics of budgeting, credit, financing a vehicle, banking, and investing. It provides helpful resources and tools to support free online courses.

Other Resources


The Penny Hoarder        

The Simple Dollar        

Co-Active Coaching, Fourth Edition: The proven framework for transformative conversations at work and in life Amazon        

Employment Counseling

Job readiness, employment training, and assistance looking for job are essential parts of what is offered at a Financial Opportunity Center® site. A job and opportunities for advancement are the platform that supports a family's financial well-being, and employment services are the initial reason many clients begin working with an FOC program. The tools in this section's listings can be used by clients and/or staff to explore career pathways and work toward employment goals. 

Impact Areas

Career Pathways 
Successful workforce development programs align educational and training programs with locally in-demand job opportunities. Through partnerships, organizations can build training programs that integrate academic, technical and employability skills targeted to a sector or industry. 


Employer Engagement

Employer partnerships are necessary to place training program graduates into jobs. Strategic employer engagement can move from simply job placement to a mutually beneficial, long-term partnership that can inform and support workforce training programs. 

Retention and Career Advancement
FOC coaching and support does not end when a client is placed into a job. Post-employment retention and career advancement supports clients in continued attainment of occupational credentials and focused career progression to secure and retain family-sustaining wage employment. 

Designed for an employment coach, this workbook gives detailed instructions on how to run a series of three workshops on choosing a career, including activities, handouts, worksheets and examples. An appendix gives information on more resources and budgeting numbers. 


For clients and coaches, Citi developed this free tool that provides market insights and resources for online skill development based on personalized career goals. 


The US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA) created a Toolkit for building career pathways aligned with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 


When considering career pathways and opportunities, it is important to consider job quality and placements that provide sufficient income for families to reach economic stability. Aspen Institute created this library with checklists, instructions and guidelines adopt practices to strengthen job quality in their own organizations, businesses they work with, and across labor markets. 

Employer Connection Plan: A five-page PDF, this paper outlines how Bridges to Career Opportunities staff can form strategic relationships and partnerships with employers. Created by Accenture for LISC, it goes step-by-step through how to identify, reach out to and work with employers, including incorporating their input and ideas into training. 


Jobs for the Future created this modular toolkit to deliberately integrate employer engagement into your workforce development programming, including exercises, checklists, planning guides and more. 


This training manual created by Next Gen includes step-by-step guides, tools and resources for creating sector-driven partnerships. 


Focused on the retail industry, this toolkit developed by Reimagine Retail Chicagoland includes practical information and tools to approach employers from a position of value. 


The Urban Institute offers a framework for workforce development organizations to engage employer partners and vice versa. 

Created by Public/Private Ventures, this guide provides a framework for developing the knowledge, actions and behaviors for effective employment retention strategies. 


Regular, timely communication with clients can increase attendance, retention and ultimately, client outcomes. Many FOC staff have found its often easier to communicate with clients via text messaging. As a way to support retention efforts, LISC has integrated a SMS text messaging feature into the Family Financial Trackingdatabase platform as a client engagement tool. With this tool coaches have the ability to text client directly from Salesforce. To request access, contact your local Program Officer

LISC Bridges to Career Opportunities

Bridges programs provide participants with the integrated FOC core services of financial coaching, employment counseling, and income supports, as well as industry-contextualized adult basic education to address academic readiness gaps that can prevent an individual from entering or succeeding in an occupational or skills training program.  LISC’s Bridges strategy seeks to meet clients where they are and move them into living wage jobs and financial stability. 

Building a Bridges Program
Core to the Bridges to Career Opportunities model, contextualization is not easy to achieve. Jobs for the Future created this toolkit for practitioners including practice guides and actual curricula.

A step-by-step guide to building bridge programs that fit into a career pathway created by Institute del Progreso Latino.

Developed by National Skills Coalition, this toolkit provides information that state policymakers and advocates can use to drive the establishment or expansion of integrated education and training policies at the state level. 
Research and Evaluation

Conducted by Abt Associates, this study highlights the success of underemployed and unemployed individuals who participate in LISC’s multifaceted Bridges to Career Opportunities program (Bridges).

The Power of Integrated Services    

Conducted by LISC Research & Evaluation, this study demonstrates the impact of integrated services for Bridges clients, including higher job placement and wage increase.    


A case study of the LISC Houston and Wesley Community Center’s pilot bridges program that provided technical training and access to employment services to help clients become Certified Nursing Assistants.     

Industry-Specific Bridges

Women Employed - General resources on providing Bridge. Free  sign up for lesson plans in Healthcare, Manufacturing, Early Childhood Development, Hospitality/Culinary, Information IT and Transportation, Distribution & Logistics.    


Illinois Community College Board - Curricula for Healthcare, Manufacturing and Transportation, Distribution & Logistics.    


LISC partnered with Union Pacific to create a Transportation, Distribution and Logistics Bridge program. To access the full curriculum, please contact your local LISC Program Officer.    

Income Supports

Income supports are a crucial aspect of increasing net income, net worth, and supporting a client's success. Access to income supports give clients the time and resources necessary that allow them to complete employment training and achieve career advancement. Many entities offer programs that help low- and moderate-income individuals and families become more financially stable, including federal, state, and local governments; community-based organizations; and private companies. 

Impact Areas

Screening for Public Benefits

Coaching to help a client work through a complex network of public benefits at the local level helps individuals access all of the services and supports for which they are eligible.

Mitigating the Benefits Cliff Effect

The cliff effect occurs when a family begins to earn above the income eligibility limits and become ineligible for financial supports. Just a small increase in earnings can result in an abrupt reduction or loss of benefits. This abrupt reduction in benefits can discourage people from engaging in workforce development programs or from even seeking employment.   

Supports for Health & Financial Well-Being

Created for the Center for Changing Lives in Chicago, this interactive Word document is designed to be used by a counselor to gather information from a client to determine eligibility for federal and state benefits such as SSDI, unemployment, food stamps and TANF. Please note this screening tool is specific to Chicago and IL benefits. Its a good idea to refer to your state and local human resources agencies for information specific to your area.       


This online game provides insight into how difficult it is to get by after losing a job or facing a similar life-changing difficulty. Created by the Urban Ministries of Durham, it illustrates the difficulties of finding work, navigating government programs and keeping family together

Moving on Up: Helping Families Climb the Economic Ladder by Addressing Benefits Cliffs examines case studies from across the country and makes policy recommendations.


Benefits Cliffs and the Financial Incentives for Career Advancement: A Case Study of a Health Care Career Pathway 


Cliff Briefs: Analyses in states or counties where benefits cliffs or “slopes” lie across a combination of benefits as wages go up.  


Pilot Programs Designed to Mitigate the Cliff Effect in Different States. 

Pfizer Rx Pathways 

This initiative connects FOC clients to affordable health care through prescription drug assistance/savings programs. Pfizer can also assist in referring uninsured clients to medical institutions they can access in their area. 


Digital Learning

It has become more clear than ever that digital literacy is essential to successfully obtaining employment or career advancement, connecting to valuable financial resources and affordable products, as well as gaining access to public benefits such as unemployment and food stamps. Digital literacy needs to cut across all three of the core FOC services. 

What is the Skills to Succeed Learning Exchange and How Does it Work?

Offered by Accenture, the Skills to Succeed Learning Exchange offers new content through a blended learning approach program. Blended learning is an instructional model that combines traditional face-to-face instruction and online learning.


The Accenture Learning Exchange includes pre- and post-assessments, online demos and simulations, and classroom workshops. LISC FOCs and their clients can gain access to over 100 career and financial education courses, some of which can be accessed by either a computer or smartphone!

Through this platform, organizations can continue instruction virtually and track client’s individual progress through their training plan.

Check out the 'Blended Learning' webinar series to get a closer look at the courses available and see how other FOCs have integrated the use of the platform into their programs.

How Can My Organization Gain Access?

Interested organizations can complete the interest form and submit to their local program officer. 

On this interest form you will create a "Training Plan" for your program. Learners will have access to all online courses on the site but the training plan reflects an organization’s priority courses. We recommend 15 - 20 courses. 

COVID-19 Resources

The Coronavirus Pandemic has impacted us all and in some cases shifted our focus to meet immediate client needs. We have gathered a several resource here to support coaching efforts through these unprecedented times.