United Way of Greenville County has announced the planned opening of its new Opportunity Center, a one-stop resource hub to improve financial stability and economic mobility options for families and individuals in Greenville County.
The center, which opens to the public in early 2021, will offer connections with financial stability partners including CommunityWorks, the Greenville County Human Relations Commission and United Housing Connections. Among the services offered will be financial counseling and coaching, access to affordable loans, matched savings programs for asset building, income supports, and free income tax filing through United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Additional community partners will be invited to participate through the Greenville Opportunity Network.
United Way of Greenville County joins United Ways across country and South Carolina, including United Way of the Piedmont (Spartanburg) and Trident United Way (Charleston), that have implemented similar models to help their communities address the complex challenge of improving economic mobility.
Data shows despite the area’s economic success and growth over the last two decades, among the largest 100 communities in the country, Greenville County is one of the 10 most difficult places to climb out of poverty. Chief economic factors affecting the ability of people to achieve financial stability include wealth inequality, soaring personal debt and systemic barriers to resources. COVID-19’s negative impact on the local economy has exacerbated the issue, with many unable to pay rent or basic utilities for the first time in their lives.
“Almost 40 percent of Greenville County households do not have enough savings to replace income for three months, which often leads those facing financial hardship to turn to predatory financial practices that are unaffordable, unsafe and sometimes impossible to pay off,” said Meghan Barp, president and CEO of United Way of Greenville County. “The Opportunity Center provides a collaboration of trusted financial stability resources under one roof, a true community hub dedicated to improving economic mobility and wealth creation opportunities for people in Greenville County.”
The Opportunity Center will measure its success by helping participants meet key financial stability metrics, such as:
- Earn a livable income that reaches the Self-Sufficiency Standard ($46,000 for a family of four in Greenville County).
- Achieve a good credit score of 620 or higher
- Own a checking and savings account
- Decrease debt below 40 percent of monthly income
- Establish a saving equal to three months of living expenses
- Set aside an emergency savings of $1,000.
“The Opportunity Center helps people right now affected by the economic downturn by providing financial assistance to help pay for basic necessities, but it also opens the door to important conversations about long term solutions, such as how to open a bank account, create a savings pattern and build economic pathways to success,” said United Way Senior Vice President for Community Impact Deborah McKetty. “We are excited to be able to provide the community with this critical new service.”
Thanks to support from Bank of America, TD Bank, Wells Fargo and others, as well as individual gifts from United Way donors, families will have opportunities to participate in matched savings programs, home down payment assistance, small loan support, guidance on how to save for important wealth-building purchases like a car or home, and learning how to avoid the pitfalls of predatory lending.
“Improving access to trusted banking services is an important step in the journey to financial stability and TD Bank is proud to unite with fellow banking institutions in our support of this effort through the Opportunity Center,” said David Lominack, South Carolina Market President for TD Bank and United Way volunteer.
The Opportunity Center is located at 101 Antrim Dr., Greenville, and will be open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments are required and can be made by calling 864-382-3325. For more information, visit unitedwaygc.org/opportunity-center.