If you've recently been in a situation where you had to file bankruptcy, it most likely did serious damage to your credit score. However, that damage is only temporary and you can rebuild quickly with the right strategy. Financial education director April Lewis-Parks talked to Bankrate about how to avoid common credit traps as you rebuild your score after bankruptcy.Read More
Certified Credit Counseling with a Focus on Financial Education
In 28 years, Consolidated Credit has helped over 10.2 million people find relief from credit card debt to achieve real financial stability
“Without financial education, financial stability is just a dream,”
– Gary Herman
Credit card debt problems are running rampant in the U.S. today. Americans owe more than $950 billion, and we just keep adding more every year. But the truth is that most people aren’t taking on debt because they’re irresponsible. These days, most credit card debt comes from challenges like lack of income, emergency expenses, and out-of-pocket medical bills.
That’s why we believe that solving people’s challenges with credit card debt today requires more than just a program that can help them become debt-free. True financial stability takes education and application, and that’s what we help our customers do. Consolidated Credit is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit credit counseling agencies and we’ve spent over a quarter of a century helping people find financial freedom
Consolidated Credit’s mission: To assist families throughout the United States to end financial crises and solve money management issues through education and professional counseling.
28 Years of Financial Education
Consolidated Credit opened its doors 28 years ago to provide personalized, nonprofit, certified credit counseling services to people facing challenges with debt. The idea was simple: Help consumers overcome their current challenges with debt and build better financial strategies to avoid debt in the future. And that’s never been more important than it has been in the past two years as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Financial Literacy Month Celebration 2021
Consolidated Credit has been educating and helping people about financial literacy for 28 years. And to date, we’ve helped over 10 million people find financial stability.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought many challenges to people across the globe. Consumers’ personal finances were threatened on various levels.
In response, Consolidated Credit’s financial educators reached out to the community to assess their needs. After quarantine orders were made, the educational team adjusted their delivery methods to meet the need for socially distanced remote learning for partners and the public. Seminars and workshops had to be reimagined and they were turned into online webinars.
In total, educators presented a record of 179 webinars with over 5 000 attendees and distributed over 14,500 educational financial publications.
Consolidated credit also focused on and promoted a COVID-19 online resource center that includes short-term and long-term financial advice, scam alerts, government updates, as well as how to adjust finances around reduced income, how to navigate job layoffs, and tips for coping with financial stress.
Since early 2019, Consolidated Credit has partnered with the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida. And in 2020, we helped local girl scouts earn financial literacy badges with three virtual personal finance sessions.
At five Broward County Florida high schools, we presented “Budgeting 101”. And at Deerfield Beach High School, we also conducted a train-the-trainer session with 20 high school seniors. The students were trained to teach lower classmen the importance of saving money and how to budget. These special sessions trained 135 students on how to successfully implement budgeting into their lives
Since the pandemic began our counselors have received thousands of phone calls from active Service Members, Veterans, and their families. Our educators were able to provide budget and credit counseling, as well as rental and foreclosure prevention counseling.
Community Outreach Programs
As part of our work within the Hispanic community, “Budgeting on a Fixed Income” was presented to residents at Villa Madonna, which is a senior citizen, low-income housing apartment subsidized by HUD. And in collaboration with the Hialeah Housing Authority, we taught “20 Ways to Save Money When Facing Financial Challenges”. As part of our mission to educate, we participated in local and national education TV segments.
With a focus on the Creole community, we presented “First Steps to Homeownership” in partnership with Village Academy’s adult education director. Working with the Miami YWCA, the Jack and Jill Foundation, Children’s Services Council of Broward County, and the CLEO institute, educators were able to present an assortment of counseling methods that included one-on-one counseling, financial coaching, and webinars that are designed to help families learn how to remain afloat during this crisis. Sessions addressed budgeting, savings, and credit with the goal of achieving financial stability
Small Business Programs
[Nick Sortal, City of Plantation Council Member] “Consolidated is among the leaders in teaching fiscal responsibility. They always do outreach, they’re always trying to help people.”
To further our mission of financial stability, we’ve presented five business readiness certification trainings, in collaboration with Riviera Band and the City of Plantation. In partnership with the Palm Beach County Library System, we were presenting a monthly webinar series in English and Spanish that will run through December 2021.
[Adam S. Davis, Palm Beach County Library System Director of System Services] “We’re offering financial literacy opportunities through different methods. I think there’s always going to be a need to learn more about finances, credit, owning a house—honestly, just living in the United States.”
And we are providing 11 000 personal finance publications now located at 17 library sites across the county.
But none of this would be possible without our partners and funders. Thank you for your dedication to the community and commitment to promoting financial stability
Advocating for consumers since 1993
It’s our job to be advocates for every client we work with. We’re not here to judge. We’re here to help our clients become debt-free, by being a negotiator and a liaison with their creditors and a support system if they run into any trouble. That’s our core philosophy. We’re constantly looking for new ways to help people find better ways to deal with their debt, credit and money.
As the nation’s largest nonprofit credit counseling agency, Consolidated Credit has counseled over 10 million people who have faced challenges with credit card debt. We continue to be a leader in financial education, providing over 300 hours of education through workshops, webinars, and wellness fairs each year.
In 2008 when the housing market collapsed, we added a housing counseling department to help homeowners find solutions to avoid foreclosure. Our director worked with HUD and the FHA to establish programs like the Florida Hardest Hit Fund to help people avoid foreclosure, in spite of the high unemployment rates brought on by the Great Recession.
Financial education partnerships
Consolidated Credit is proud that we’ve partnered with over 500 nonprofit organizations, municipal groups, and government agencies to bring financial education to the people who need it most. We work with organizations like the United Way to help low-income families learn the skills they need to become financially stable. These partnerships allow us to provide financial literacy education to the underserved communities that need it most.
[On-screen text] United Way of Broward County
Kathleen Cannon, United Way of Broward County CEO: I would definitely recommend somebody to Consolidated Credit. Folks get into a great deal of difficulty with debt. So, they start charging on their credit cards, they’re overextended and that they don’t realize how long it really takes to get out of that predicament.
So, Consolidated Credit is one of the things, that you really come in and help people move past their debt. United Way, we work with our funded partners, our other nonprofits and often what we do is work with those organizations to bring Consolidated Credit in, so that Consolidated Credit can do seminars and workshops with the staff of those agencies.
And we have found that all of our partners working in nonprofit, we’re so busy taking care of clients and consumers and the community that sometimes we forget about taking care of ourselves. I know folks who have been tumbling out of control. It’s one call and they felt better. They came in, they met with people and worked through the coaching and really got great assistance. And I know that those folks have referred people as well.
If together we can work with our residents who are struggling, those residents will eventually become financially stable, will be consumers of service, will open businesses, will be blossoming and blooming. So, the synergy between United Way and Consolidated Credit is really community oriented.
- S. Army OneSource and the Department of Defense at Southern Command work closely with Consolidated Credit provide financial education outreach to military Service Members and Veterans.
- Our staff works closely with Junior Achievement local school districts in South Florida to provide financial education to youth.
- We host and attend over 300 workshops and wellness fairs each year and offer free monthly webinars that cover a variety of financial topics.
Why we focus on financial education
What we’ve learned in 27 years of credit counseling is that most financial challenges are rooted in the same thing. Most of us never learned about personal finance and how to make good, strategic decisions with our money when we were young. As a result, we all basically learn by trial and error. But financial errors cost people their money, their credit and the years it can take to recover.
So, while Consolidated Credit’s debt management program can help people get out of debt, the key to helping them stay that way is financial education. By learning how to budget, save, break credit dependence, and set achievable goals, people can meet the financial challenges they face.
We also strive to make financial education as fun, easy and as engaging as possible. From personal finance tips on people’s favorite social networks, to contests that give you a little incentive to learn.
Fostering financial wellness in the workplace
Consolidated Credit created the Financial Wellness in the Workplace program to help employers provide financial education to their employees. From simple self-help publication libraries in office buildings, this program evolved into a full-scale benefits platform known as KOFE (Knowledge of Financial Education).
KOFE takes a three-prong approach to building financial literacy. It’s the same strategy we use to help our members. Through a combination of online resources, classroom learning, and one-on-one coaching, anyone can learn how to manage their money effectively. Today, KOFE is used by private corporations, municipal agencies, school districts, financial institutions, and insurers to help their employees, members, constituents, and customers learn how to achieve and maintain long-term financial stability.
Meet our team
Our leadership team collectively has over a century of experience in helping people achieve freedom from debt while building financial literacy. Click on the pictures below to learn more about each member.
Certified credit counselors
All of Consolidated Credit’s credit counselors are certified debt management professionals that maintain a strict code of ethics. When people first contact us, they work one-on-one with a member of this team to find the right solution and set up a budget.
Client services representatives that really care
Once someone enrolls in a debt management program, our client services representatives (CSRs) are here to make sure everything goes smoothly. They answer questions and help members stay on track.
HUD-approved housing counselors
From helping first-time homebuyers overcome the hurdles of achieving home ownership, to helping homeowners avoid foreclosure and understand their equity, our HUD-approved housing counseling team helps people secure their part of the American Dream.
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