If you have ever thought twice about getting medical care because you knew it would hurt your wallet, then you have been in Linwood's shoes. He needed dental work, but he didn't have the means to pay for it, even though he was fully employed. With his employer, Linwood even had insurance, but it wouldn't cover the dental work he needed.
The team at Common Wealth Charlotte was there for Linwood, but not with one-way charity. That's not what CWC does. The Charlotte nonprofit promotes financial capability-building over direct financial assistance—and it's fundamentally changing the way economically-vulnerable families in Charlotte are being served.
"We equip clients with education, one-to-one counseling, credit union accounts and low-interest 'pay it forward' loans, all for the purpose of clients achieving greater family-level financial stability while eliminating use of short-term charitable assistance," says executive director Chuck Jones.
CWC is one of just three organizations nationwide providing its unique mix of education and access to financial services to low-income wage earners, many with credit scores below 500. The organization is the exclusive provider of financial literacy education and capability-building services for 53 local nonprofits. It will serve more than 4,000 people in its empowerment workshops in the 2020 fiscal year, provide 1,200 people with certified credit and financial health counseling, and will make 300 low-interest loans to cover episodic needs and improve clients' credit scores.
"Financial capability-building" means different things to different people. It means improving credit scores, finding freedom from predatory loans, and saving money for a down payment on a house. It means finding long-term stability rather than covering a problem with a Band-Aid.
For Linwood, it meant saving $100 with each paycheck to accumulate $1,400, and CWC providing an Opportunity Loan to cover the remainder of the cost of his dental work. No longer would he have to put off something that was affecting his ability to work.
When it comes to the impact Common Wealth Charlotte is having on our neighbors in Charlotte, Linwood's smile says it all.
You can join the Common Wealth Charlotte team as a volunteer or supporter! Learn more here!
Executive Director of Common Wealth Charlotte, Chuck Jones, visited FOX 46’s Good Day Charlotte set earlier this month with Joshua Thorpe, a local man who after 13 years in prison used the services of CWC to reestablish his life. Learn how this local nonprofit turned his credit score from 0 to 660, helped him to start his own small business, and turned his life around, here!
Grace Kennedy is a Huntersville-based writer specializing in storytelling for nonprofits. Learn more at gracekennedy.net.
Check out this list to learn about more of our local nonprofit partners who are help to improve financial literacy in our community! Thank you Amy and Brain France for partnering with us to highlight this story and all others in our #SpotlightOnCLT series this year.