Thursday December 15, 2016 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM CST
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Hallie Lienhardt 
Center for Financial Security 

LIFT-UP: An Innovative Municipal Financial Empowerment Strategy 


Join the Center for Financial Security (CFS)  and the National League of Cities (NLC) for a webinar featuring research findings and future implications of the newly completed evaluation of Local Interventions for Financial Empowerment through Utility Payments (LIFT-UP) program. Listen to Denise Belser of NLC speak on the program's background; Bonnie Ashcroft, of Houston's Department of Public Works and Engineering, discuss the participating city perspective; and researcher Stephanie Moulton present on the findings and implications of the program.

Project Background:

Municipal financial empowerment (FE) strategies are efforts undertaken by cities to increase the financial stability of low-income families. FE strategies link vulnerable households to financial services and public benefits, and provide them with tools to build assets and manage money more effectively. A key challenge to the success of municipal FE services is identifying and connecting with families when they are experiencing these financial challenges. LIFT-UP is a model that targets families who have missed payments to utilities or other municipal entities and offers FE interventions at the onset of the debt collection process. 

In 2013, NLC selected five cities to pilot the LIFT-UP model with their city-owned water utilities: Houston, Texas, Louisville, Kentucky, Newark, New Jersey, Savannah, Georgia and St. Petersburg, Florida. Prior to the launch of LIFT-UP, the five cities reported delinquency rates at the water utility that ranged between 20% and 48% of all accounts. City officials in each of the cities recognized this opportunity and were instrumental in assembling LIFT-UP teams made up of utility staff, FE providers and other representatives from municipal and nonprofit organizations. To assess the impact of the LIFT-UP pilot, NLC engaged an external evaluator, the Center for Financial Security (CFS) at the University of Wisconsin. To read the full report, click HERE. For more information on LIFT-UP, visit NLC's webisite, HERE. This webinar will summarize the results of the evaluation and discuss future implications.

As a pilot initiative, the lessons learned through the evaluation of LIFT-UP can improve future iterations of the program, as well as inform innovative municipal financial empowerment strategies more broadly. We hope you will join us for this informative webinar on new approaches to financial empowerment strategies, as well as join in the conversation in the Q & A session at the end of the presentations.