Established in 2003, the Financial Services Program is a vital component of Bon Secours’ Center for Working Families – a national, evidence-based model that bundles programs and services and provides them in a continuum that helps to lead adults to economic self-sufficiency.

The program focuses on building financial literacy with Southwest Baltimore community residents through trainings, workshops, individual counseling, and services such as free-and low-cost tax preparation and a computer lab that offers educational and skill-building opportunities. Participants can stabilize income through benefits screenings where a program professional works one-on-one to coordinate resources that can expand earning capacity with services that support employment and career building.

The Financial Services Program is based at Community Works Community Support Center located at 26 North Fulton Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland, 21223. The Community Support Center has been providing services in the heart of the Southwest Baltimore City community since 1998 and is located near to Bon Secours Hospital in an area of the Southwest Baltimore community where the need is greatest. The Center is accessible by public transportation from throughout the Southwest Baltimore area for most residents.

Like all Bon Secours programs and services, the Financial Services Program components were developed by a resident-led process to set community goals and meet the needs of the Southwest Baltimore City community. The program consists of five comprehensive components:

Financial Coaching and Counseling

Staff provides one-on-one and group financial counseling that can help individuals and families with credit repair, debt reduction, personal budgeting, and pre-home buying planning and assistance.

Financial Education

Financial literacy is infused in the curriculum for all courses and many services provided by Community Works, including the Career Development Program, Family Support Center and Women’s Resource Center, in addition to the Financial Services Program. Group trainings and workshops are conducted on topics vital to financial health including, but not limited to (as needs are identified): Budgeting, Credit Repair, Debt Reduction, Pre-home Buying, Financial Planning, Taxes, and Computer Basics (to learn to access financial education and budgeting software).

Free and Low-Cost Tax Preparation

Financial Services, in partnership with the Baltimore CASH Campaign, provides free and low-cost tax preparation services to over 1,600 Southwest Baltimore residents annually – and the total continues to rise as word spreads throughout the community. This service is coordinated by the Financial Services Program Director and relies on volunteer tax preparation professionals.

Public Benefits Screening and Enrollment

Securing public benefits for which residents are eligible assists them in stabilizing their economic situation. Financial Services’ EARNbenefits program assists residents with in identifying and applying for a wide range of state and federal benefits.

Computer Lab

Financial Services Program participants have access to the Computer Lab at the Community Support Center, which is an essential part of the infrastructure necessary for Bon Secours’ Financial Services and other Center for Working Families programs. Access to computers assists residents with:

  • Conducting on-line job searches
  • Developing résumés and cover letters
  • Submitting online job applications
  •  Improving computer skills

By the numbers

  • 1,209 residents received free or low-cost tax preparation services.
  • 156 received tax information or counseling
  • 79 purchased a savings bond.
  • 13 received individualized financial or debt reduction coaching.
  • 673 residents were screened to determine what benefits they were eligible to receive; 123 were determined to be eligible for benefits (Supplemental Food Assistance Program, financial assistance through SSI/SSDI, Medicare/Medicaid, etc.).
  • 60 residents attended 14 financial education workshops on various topics.