New project will allow West Neighbourhood House to measure how our financial coaching improves workers’ lives - West Neighbourhood House

two building up employees work on a construction site wearing masks

Our financial empowerment and problem-solving program has a proven track record. Now, we’re embedding one of our financial coaches to work one-on-one with new workers in the trades.

An innovative, integrated approach to financial well-being

West Neighbourhood House believes in integrating one-on-one financial counselling into community programs like job training, newcomer services, health care, and higher education to help struggling Torontonians gain a better quality of life. Now, a new partnership and grant will help the agency put this innovative approach to the test.

West Neighbourhood House, a multi-service non-profit organization in downtown west Toronto, is working with Building Up, a non-profit social enterprise construction contractor. Building Up will be the first partner in Toronto to pay to embed a financial coach from West Neighbourhood House in their program. The company hopes to have their apprenticeship graduates work more hours in construction jobs, progress towards higher salaries, and earn seniority in their unions with the support of a financial counsellor to help them cope with financial volatility that derails many new workers in the trades.

To test out this new approach, West Neighbourhood House has been awarded a $200,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase for a one-year project to develop a data platform to measure the impact that high-quality one-on-one money advice has on people’s lives.

The platform will measure financial health, program outcomes, and quality of life. It will explore whether getting professional coaching on debt reduction, savings, income, changing monthly spending and setting financial goals can help people cope with the financial stress and volatility associated with precarious employment. It will also look at whether better job retention and wage progression reduces stress, improves health, or even increases happiness.

This represents a more nuanced approach to measuring program outcomes and reporting them to funders. These metrics are typically limited to easily captured measures such as “number of people served” or the “value” of a benefit in terms of a dollar amount.

By investing in one-on-one financial coaching, West Neighbourhood House is betting that having meaningful money conversations with clients on a regular basis over a period of more than 18 months will generate data to input into the platform. The agency hopes to be able to show, with data, that this approach is far more effective than just a brief service interaction, with broad applications for how social purpose organizations measure if their programs are working as intended.

A working platform that can show the effects of program interventions is expected to be ready by July of 2021.

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