Building a Financial Empowerment Movement in Michigan

Reflecting on success in Lansing and introducing a new opportunity for Michigan communities.

On March 12, 2013, the City of Lansing launched the Lansing Financial Empowerment Center, part of a five site national replication generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Living Cities’ Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund. Though the City of Lansing and Ingham County have supported strategies like free income tax preparation assistance for almost a decade through the Asset Independence Coalition, the Lansing Financial Empowerment Center allowed the community to take a large step ahead in its local financial empowerment strategy. With the creation of the Lansing Office of Financial Empowerment and a commitment to serve over 4,000 Lansing residents with free, one-on-one financial counseling over three years (2013-2015), the City of Lansing is embracing the notion that financial empowerment is a public service.

Though it’s by far the smallest city in the national replication, Lansing’s Financial Empowerment Center is producing big results.

The most recent numbers show that the Center has served 750 clients with almost 1500 free financial counseling sessions. What’s more, residents’ engagement with financial counselors produces real, quantifiable improvements in their financial situations. Since March, Lansing residents have decreased their aggregate debt by over $150,000 and increased aggregate savings by over $60,000. Sixty-nine Lansing Financial Empowerment Center clients have opened bank accounts, nine have established and maintained a regular savings habit, twenty have increased their savings by at least 2% of their income and twenty five have decreased their debt by at least 10%. These are significant accomplishments for clients who have been working with a counselor for less than one year.

CEDAM supports the Lansing Financial Empowerment Center through the Michigan Communities for Financial Empowerment (MCFE) network, contributing direct staff support to the program.

CEDAM is happy to announce that more local governments in Michigan now have the opportunity to support financial stability through CEDAM’s Financial Empowerment Initiative Grants Program!

The program provides one year grants and technical assistance to support the development of Financial Empowerment Initiatives in Michigan communities. Through these initiatives, local governments will lead the provision of free, one-on-one financial counseling, integrated with core programs and services offered in the community.

Deadline for proposals is Friday, November 22, 2013. To learn more about the program, check out the Request for Proposals and contact Megan Kursik, MCFE Coordinator, at or 517.485.3588.