Suzanne Hough and the NCHI team at the speed-networking event
Last summer, Northside Community Housing Inc. had the opportunity to participate in a truly innovative initiative aimed at strengthening collaboration between banks and communities. The Community Builders Network, along with Rise, Midland States Bank, and the St. Louis Community Foundation (InvestSTL) partnered with each other to bring us the CRA Ladder of Capacity grants competition.
Here’s how it worked: Back in June community development corporations had a speed-networking session with participating banks to pitch program ideas that would build capacity for the organizations as well as help banks find ways to give back to the community in accordance with the Community Reinvestment Act.
NCHI staff members Jessica Eiland and Mona Majid found an enthusiastic collaborator in Suzanne Hough, Carrollton Bank’s Community Development Officer. Suzanne is passionate about increasing credit access in communities such as the Ville, which have suffered from unfair lending practices over the past few generations.
Together, NCHI Community Housing and Carrollton put together a proposal for a financial education series for our residents. Carrollton and other participating banks will offer introductory workshops at the NCHI office, with a focus on credit building and financial literacy. Attendees are then given referrals to free financial coaching via Prosperity Connection. Through being awarded the Ladder of Capacity Grant, we have been able to offer rent credit incentives to residents for following through with these steps toward good credit. With this initiative, NCHI is laying the framework for helping our residents achieve their financial goals, including those who dream of becoming home owners.
The first pilot workshop in late September, led by Ms. Hough, was a great success with 10 enthusiastic attendees. We are excited to offer a series of these classes in 2017. Stay tuned for updates!