Introducing…the MVI Financial Opportunity Center!


In our previous post, we briefly described the services newly introduced at MVI through our 2015 Financial Opportunity Center (FOC). Since then, we have brought on board the new Workforce Development Specialist & Financial Coach, Bobby James Smith (pictured above)! 

The FOC offers a comprehensive, bundled approach to offering Employment Placement, Career Development, Financial Counseling/Coaching, and Public Benefits Access to our Workforce Development (WFD) Program participants. Three Pittsburgh organizations, including MVI, are able to offer these services through funding awarded by Neighborhood Allies, the local Affiliate of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). LISC first launched the national FOC network in their effort to Build Sustainable Communities.

Bobby James has a passion for people and the knowledge needed to offer superb income support coaching to Workforce Development Program participants. Let’s take a look at how his role as Financial Coach and the Financial Opportunity Center ties in with the services offered by our Workforce Development and Housing Counseling staff:

updated pictureFollow the Flow Chart:


Step 1: Initial Contact

When a potential participant arrives in our office at 305 East Eighth Avenue, they are greeted by our Intake Coordinator, Gail. Gail will ask the individual to fill out a short intake form to sign up for WFD Program Orientation.



Step 2: Group Orientation (mandatory step to enroll in the WFD Program)

A potential participant will then attend a group orientation session to determine his/her interest in enrolling in the program. The orientation will provide a brief MVI organizational and WFD Overview and an introductory presentation on Steps to Financial Freedom. Here, attendees will also meet members of our Workforce Development and Housing Counseling staff, including the Director of Workforce Development, Tracey.

WFD Program Orientation is held twice a month: the first Monday of the month from 10am to noon, and the third Wednesday of the month from 1pm to 3pm.

wfd-program-resourcesOther resources are available as an optional step for both program participants and non-participants. This includes our Resource Center and/or enrolling in our 8-week Computer Literacy class (first priority goes to program participants).



Step 3: Appointments/Enrollment Process

Once enrolled in the WFD Program, participants are assigned a Workforce Development Specialist (WFDS), including Bobby James, and schedule a one-on-one appointment with that WFDS. The WFDS will conduct a needs & barrier assessment and an Income Supports Analysis to determine whether her/she is a financial coaching prospect.


financial-coach income-support-coach

After the initial analysis, the participant will schedule followup one-on-one meetings with their WFDS, a Financial Coach, or an Income Support Coach to carry out their individualized service plan. Services could include:

  • Resume Customization
  • Interviewing Skills Practiced & Refined
  • Professional Development Refined
  • Review Rap Sheet & Clean Up Strategy (if applicable)
  • Referrals as needed
  • Financial/Credit Repair Counseling



Step 4: Skills Training

Program participants are also required to attend weekly Job Clubs following their one-on-one WFDS meeting. Job Clubs occur every Monday and Thursday from 1:30pm to 3pm. This allows participants to follow the curriculum, “Know Yourself, Know the Market, Make the Match,” through a series of workshop topics and trainings, including:

  • Expungement Workshops – “Clean Up Your Rap Sheet”
  • Employer Presentations and On-site Recruitment
  • Workforce & Professional Development Education
  • Mock Interviews (with both employers and MVI staff)
  • Resume Workshops
  • Online Skills Assessment – “Work Keys”

Participants may also choose to join the 8-week Computer Literacy Class offered through the program to gain technical and internet skills.



Step 5: Appointment with our Job Developer

Alethia, our Job Developer, is tasked with bringing in new employers to the MVI network and making jobs and/or training available to WFD Program participants. Once a participant is ready to find the job that is right for them, they can meet with Alethia to help match their skills to an employer.


gain-employment-outcome personal-finance-outcome

Step 6: Outcomes

After going through an individualized service plan, participants should achieve two goals: Gain Employment and/or Personal Finance Outcome. If a participant needs further support even after reaching one of these goals, they are encouraged to seek guidance from staff members at varying points in the process until they are satisfied with their achievements.


Watch a success story from LISC’s Chicago FOC to learn more about what an FOC can do for you. Interested in what our Financial Opportunity Center has to offer? Call 412-464-4000 x.4001 to register for an orientation session today!

March 11, 2015