Financial Empowerment Center Request for Proposals
Washtenaw County OCED has recently released a RFP seeking a Financial Empowerment Center counseling provider. The FEC program would provide municipally supported, free, one-one-one, quality financial counseling. The counselors could help community residents reach financial goals, not just telling individuals and families what to do, but helping residents figure out their financial dreams. The program will focus on helping low-moderate income households manage their finances, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit, and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products. At the core of the FEC model is the integration of counseling into other social services, including housing and foreclosure prevention, workforce development, prisoner reentry, benefits access, domestic violence services, and more.
Community agencies are invited to submit a proposal if so interested. There was a mandatory teleconference pre-bidder meeting held on Monday, January 24th at 2PM via Zoom. OCED staff provided an overview of the FEC model, went through the nuts and bolts of the proposal process, and answered participants questions. A slide deck for this meeting can be found here.
RFP details can be found at https://www.washtenaw.org/2431/Open-Bids under RFP #8286.
RFP Questions and Answers
Q: How certain is it that Washtenaw County will establish a financial empowerment center?
A: The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners will need to formalize support for a FEC through formal resolution in 2022. Subsequently, Washtenaw County will need to make a successful proposal, estimated submission in April 2022 with decision likely by end of May 2022, to Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund to receive necessary match funding.
Q: What are the expected qualifications of prospective counseling agencies?
A: The released RFP will list out expected qualifications in full. However, it will be key that a counseling agency have strong community relationships and partnerships in low-moderate income populations, particularly those facing racial equity challenges, and BIPOC writ large. Competency working with populations through a social determinants of health and equity lenses.
Q: Our agency has never done financial counseling, is that an issue?
A: Applicants with limited experience in delivering one-on-one financial counseling should demonstrate trusted, long-standing ties to the community which they propose to serve and detailed plan for developing necessary technical capacity. Agencies with staff skilled in one-on-one, face to face services that could include motivational interviewing, empathic regard, other types of counseling experience, and/or solid case management experience would be desirable.
Q: How many clients would a counselor need to see in a given year?
A: For the first 12 months of the implementation phase, each counselor will conduct at least 480 financial counseling sessions, with at least 100 outcomes, amongst those sessions. During the second 12 of the implementation phase, 600 sessions should occur per counselor, with at least 250 outcomes. While the FEC model focuses on outcomes versus client numbers, these sessions would likely account for 200-300 clients during the second implementation year.
Q: What will the roll out of the FEC look like?
A: There will be a 3+ month build out phase, where efforts to prepare for the opening of the FEC, including hiring and training of counseling staff, finalizing partnership agreements, and preparing marketing and operations, are finalized. The subsequent implementation phase will be for the following 24 months.
Q: How long will Washtenaw County Government be supporting FEC programming?
A: If the initial 24-month implementation phase shows satisfactory program deliverables, upon Board of Commissioners’ approval, the FEC would be a permanent part of County government services.
Q: In the submitted proposal and budget, what staffing considerations should be kept in mind?
A: In addition to whatever administrative supports are needed, the budget should reflect supporting 2 FTE counselors, and at least a .5 FTE supervisor to oversee the counselors’ work. If additional counseling or supervisory FTEs are part of the budget, the proposal should note how those positions will be supported, beyond funding administered by Washtenaw County Government. Ability to demonstrate match funding is highly desirable. The mandatory Prebid meeting on Monday, January 24th, 2PM included an example budget based upon a currently established FEC. View meeting slides here.
Q: How much funding from Washtenaw County Government will be available to support submitted budgets?
A: To support the staffing model in #7, above, Washtenaw County Government, plus anticipated funds from Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, will be in an estimated range of $250,000 to $750,000, pending Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners approval.
Q: Where can I find more information about Washtenaw County’s FEC planning?
A: Additional general information can be found at https://www.washtenaw.org/3061/Financial-Empowerment-Center