Bloomington-Normal community members and college students now have a collaborative, one-stop shop to help guide them on a path to financial independence. Next Step is designed to provide financial coaching, income supports, and career and education assistance. It's now open at Mid-Central Community Action in Bloomington and Heartland Community College in Normal. Other groups sponsoring the effort are United Way of McLean County and the U of I Law School's Community Preservation Clinic. Stacey Tutt is with the Clinic and a United Way board member. She says much of the Next Step offerings have been available but not in an integrated way.
"Next Step is a completely integrated model of multiple service providers in multiple locations, which makes it distinct from any of the other research models, or what is currently available within the community."
The United Way will track and monitor progress clients make in improving their credit scores, managing debt, obtaining a liveable income and accumulating savings. Organizers say most particpants should reach their goals within two years. Initially, 1,200 Heartland students and up to 1,000 Mid-Central Community Action clients are being targeted as potential participants, although anyone who feels they can be helped can contact Heartland or MCCA.
(pictured, organizers of Next Step launch the effort at a Bloomington news conference.)
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