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Compass Working Capital
Compass Working Capital is a nonprofit financial services organization with a mission to empower working, low-income families to build assets and financial capabilities as a pathway out of poverty. Starting in 2005 with a group of 10 families in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, Compass’s work has grown to serve nearly 1,000 families each year in three states. Compass believes that all families deserve the opportunity to save for and invest in their future, and that the national approach to the problem of poverty should empower families to do just that.
Compass takes an entrepreneurial, iterative approach to its programs and focuses on research, data, and evaluation to get at what really works when it comes to lifting families out of poverty. Compass’s work builds on the research and practice of a broader asset building field, which has demonstrated the key role that financial security plays in lifting families out of poverty. The organization’s broader vision is to build a leading nonprofit organization that promotes financial security and economic mobility for working, low-income families by influencing field-related practice and policy.
Impact and Outcomes
Compass has helped families save more than $2.15 million toward their financial goals, such as homeownership, retirement, or a child’s college education.
In 2010, Compass became the first organization in the country to launch an asset building and public-private partnership model for the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, an employment and savings program for families living in federally subsidized housing.
After two years in a Compass FSS program, 60% of participants increased their annual income, by an average of $11,748; 65% of participants increased their credit score, by an average of 49 points; and 74% of participants reduced or maintained zero collection debt.
Compass’s first FSS program – in Lynn, Massachusetts – has enrolled 36% of eligible families, more than seven times the national average for FSS programs. These strong enrollment trends have continued as Compass has expanded the program to seven additional sites in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
In response to growing local and national interest in the Compass FSS model, the organization launched a national training and technical assistance network in September 2016. The Compass FSS Network will support mission-aligned partners across the U.S. to incorporate asset building and financial capability strategies into their FSS programs.
What Major Funders Say
In April 2012, Strategic Grant Partners (SGP) provided a $313,000 1:1 matching grant on private dollars raised through individual and institutional donors. The matching grant applies to private funds raised from September 2012 through December 2015.