The Caroline Friess Center's Story
The Caroline Center opened its doors in 1996 with the sole focus of lifting up unemployed and underemployed women in the Baltimore area. Through technical job training provided by the Center, graduates are able to embark on professional careers in healthcare as certified nursing assistants and pharmacy technicians with clear potential for advancement. In addition to these professional skills, a holistic program curriculum ensures the women succeed not only at work, but also at home and in the community, with courses including interview prep, computer literacy, conflict resolution, effective communication, as well as a robust financial literacy program.
The Center’s financial literacy program is an integral part of its services, helping vulnerable women move from financial insecurity to financial independence. Through an earmarked Communities of Color grant from FFP, in partnership with BNY Mellon’s Pershing, the Center incorporates volunteer CFP® professionals into the program’s “essential skills” financial literacy course for current trainees as well as the financial education workshops offered to graduates of the Center, which are led by pro bono financial planners. Both offerings cover basic financial topics such as budgeting, debt management, and credit, and more advanced topics like home buying, retirement, and student loans. Following the sessions, current trainees and Center graduates have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a volunteer CFP® professional to receive personalized guidance on their financial situation.
The Center has seen the great impact that the financial literacy program has had on their trainees and graduates. One Center trainee chose to meet with a CFP® volunteer one-on-one to address debt management, and came away saying, “Meeting with Steve, a pro bono financial advisor, this past July was really helpful. He was able to guide me in the right direction regarding what debts I needed to address first to help boost my credit. He was very patient with me and did not make me feel like I was incompetent or irresponsible due to my credit score. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
After learning about credit scores and managing credit cards in a financial education workshop, one Center graduate began paying closer attention to her own credit score and was “amazed at how much my credit score was impacted if my credit card balance stayed below 30% of my credit limit. I’m not letting my balance go over 30% again!”.
Another Center graduate had gone on to nursing school and eventually became an RN, and had the highest salary she had ever had. Previously, she had never earned enough to even owe taxes. After meeting with a CFP® volunteer, she came away with knowledge and a plan on how to budget and wisely manage her new salary. “I’m so grateful for his guidance. As a single parent working as a nursing assistant, I have never earned enough before to give it much thought.”
Caroline Center’s Executive Director, Lynn Selby, is thankful for FFP and BNY Mellon’s Pershing’s support as they empower Baltimore women to transform their lives. “Funding from FFP and BNY Mellon has allowed Caroline Center to expand our financial literacy and education programming in support of the women we serve. We recognize that the ability to work with a CFP® and craft solutions to remove barriers stemming from financial challenges significantly helps them on their path to economic self-sufficiency.”
“The ability to work with a CFP® and craft solutions to remove barriers stemming from financial challenges significantly helps our clients on their path to economic self-sufficiency.”
–Lynn Selby, Caroline Center’s Executive Director
Clients are able to…
- Learn about basic financial topics such as budgeting, debt, credit, student loans, and more through interactive workshops and one-on-one pro bono financial planning.
- Obtain advice to improve their credit scores and achieve better financial stability as they grow their earning power and begin to purchase assets, such as a first home.