‘If we are united, anything is possible’
Viewpoints: By weaving financial empowerment into their work, organizations can help break down barriers to financial security for the Latino community, writes Janet Murguía, president and CEO of UnidosUS.
Nota del editor: También está disponible una versión en español de esta historia.Our monthly Viewpoints series invites guest authors from outside of Wells Fargo to share an important perspective related to their work. Today, we welcome Janet Murguía, president and CEO of UnidosUS.
Removing the barriers that prevent Latinos from achieving their dreams has been a call to action for UnidosUS since our founding 52 years ago. An empowered Latino community has the strength and influence to build a country where everyone’s contributions are recognized and valued, and everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
As the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the country, we use our policy, advocacy, and program work in immigration, education, health, civic engagement, jobs and the economy, housing, and financial education to help Latinos feel empowered to transform every aspect of their lives. The American journey shows that if we are united, anything is possible — especially when we use our nation’s diversity as a strength.
We build on more than half a century of advocacy, but there is still a lot of work to do. On average, Latinos earn less than other racial and ethnic groups and face bigger challenges on the road to financial security. For example, in 2019, Latinos earned a median hourly wage that was nearly $5 less per hour than white workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute’s State of Working America Data Library. Lower wages often result in an inability to save — in 2019, the average Latino household had $2,000 or less in savings, while the average white household had more than four times that amount, according to the Fed.
To help them gain the skills and knowledge they need for a better financial future, we developed the Financial Empowerment Network. With the generous support from Wells Fargo, we help our affiliates — a network of nearly 300 community-based organizations that serve Latinos across the country — weave financial services into their daily operations. The program connects clients to a financial coach for free, offering information and guidance that may normally be inaccessible because of cost.
With the generous support from Wells Fargo, we help our affiliates — a network of nearly 300 community-based organizations that serve Latinos across the country — weave financial services into their daily operations.
One of our affiliates, Project Vida Health Center in El Paso, Texas, serves many clients whose first language is Spanish. Connecting them with bilingual coaches allows Project Vida to better serves their clients. By integrating financial services into their wellness programs, Project Vida focuses on their vision of the eight dimensions of wellness — social, emotional, environmental, spiritual, occupational, intellectual, physical, and financial — to help clients transform their lives and thrive.
Project Vida launched the Telehealth Outreach Project to make sure the people of El Paso are safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. A team of more than 25 staff members contacted 9,000 clients from the previous year to offer a human connection during quarantine, checking in on them and identifying any health care or social services they needed. More than 1,500 clients were connected to a financial coach as part of the Telehealth Outreach Project.
Another affiliate, La Maestra Family Clinic in San Diego, California, has been involved with the Financial Empowerment Network since its inception. Similar to Project Vida, La Maestra’s Circle of Care model provides health care, education, and social services to underrepresented, low-income, uninsured, and underinsured residents of San Diego County’s emerging communities, with financial empowerment as a constant across its many programs.
Through Project Vida’s eight dimensions of wellness and La Maestra’s Circle of Care, UnidosUS continues our mission to help Latinos and all Americans feel empowered to thrive in every aspect of their lives. The Financial Empowerment Network helps more Americans acquire the knowledge and tools to not only achieve their dreams but also to support the future well-being of our country.