News & Updates

Mayor's Office of Financial Empowerment launches credit-building program for young adults

Apr 26, 2016

The Mayor's Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) with support from Citi Community Development has launched the City of Boston Credit Building Initiative for Young Working Adults, a first-of-its-kind credit-building program designed to introduce young adults to the importance of credit and to help them increase their credit score over the duration of a year.
The OFE initiative, which began in March with 300 participants, promotes youth credit-building using three steps: an introductory workshop that explains how credit works, why it is so important, and how it can result in life-long savings; free one-on-one financial coaching available to participants throughout the year; and the opportunity to sign up for an asset-building CW-3 account.
A CW-3 account is a special credit-building tool in which a mainstream lender (in this case, nonprofit Justine PETERSEN) deposits a 12-month installment loan of $300 into a locked savings account. The participant's monthly $25 payments into the account act as loan repayments, thus building the individual's credit score. At the end of the year, the participant is encouraged to use the balance in the account to open a new credit card.
“By connecting young people with the tools of financial empowerment, we can help them along the path to future prosperity and long-term success,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who has made addressing income inequality a priority for his administration. “We're grateful to partners like Citi for their commitment to helping us link residents with asset-building opportunities.”
“According to data from, 43% of Bostonians age 35 and under are financially vulnerable,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. “This important program, in collaboration with the City of Boston, will ensure that young people have the tools and support necessary to build a healthy financial identity now and in the future.”
Working Credit NFP provides workshops and financial coaching for the program. "There's a growing interest in credit building across the country," said Ricki Lowitz, Executive Director of Working Credit NFP. "But just a few organizations have made it the centerpiece of their approach to financial education. Boston's is the first municipal effort in the country, that I know of, to focus solely on credit-building. It's also one of the first programs to focus credit-building efforts specifically on young workers."
Credit building is especially crucial for those young workers starting their financial lives from an already disadvantaged position. Of the approximately 18,000 young adults in Boston who are employed and un-enrolled in school, 35 percent live at 200 percent of the poverty line or poorer.
Vahsaun Givans, 25, is a City Year member who signed up for the youth credit-building program and attended one of the initial workshops.
"I figured out if I use my credit card and pay it off in a timely manner, that's better than using my debit card, because the Credit Bureau doesn't check what you do with your savings," he said. "Already, I've switched from my debit account to my credit account for paying back my student loans."
Northeastern University's Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy will track and measure the youth credit-building program's ability to improve credit and credit-building behaviors in this hard-to-reach age group, providing important new insights for other youth asset-building opportunities across the United States.
Several Boston-area organizations have helped with youth outreach and engagement for the program, including City Year, Year Up, ROCA, Roxbury Community College, Madison Park Development Organization, BEST Corp., and Boston's Department of Youth Engagement and Employment.
The Mayor's Office of Financial Empowerment is part of the Office of Workforce Development, an affiliate of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
About the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development 
The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) is an innovative agency within the Boston Redevelopment Authority that seeks to ensure the full participation of all Boston residents in the city's economic vitality and future. The OWD funds and oversees programs that promote workforce development through education, jobs training, apprenticeships, financial coaching, career pathways, literacy initiatives, and the like. Please visit OWD.Boston.Gov to learn more about the OWD's work.
About the Boston Redevelopment Authority
As the City of Boston’s urban planning and economic development agency, the BRA works in partnership with the community to plan Boston's future while respecting its past. The agency’s passionate and knowledgeable staff guides physical, social, and economic change in Boston’s neighborhoods and its downtown to shape a more prosperous, resilient, and vibrant city for all. The BRA also prepares residents for new opportunities through employment training, human services and job creation. Learn more at, and follow us on Twitter @BostonRedevelop.

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