Rapid Response: Preparing Financial Navigators to Serve their Communities

The Situation

Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund and Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners (NTFP) teamed up with GLP to provide people across the U.S. with financial guidance and resources in the wake of our nation’s unprecedented crisis.

COVID-19 brought with it a flood of economic hardship to families across the United States. Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund engaged 10 cities to respond to this crisis quickly and decisively. They decided to create the first-ever Financial Navigator Initiative, through which individuals in each city would be trained to respond to the economic stress and confusion felt by their community members.

Financial Navigators would need to be trained quickly and effectively so that they could provide brief, relevant guidance and resources via telephone to anyone who called in. Among other things, these Navigators would need: 1) a rigorous, well-designed learning program; 2) a structured, yet flexible, process for meeting (virtually) with clients; and 3) a reliable, digital resource library. CFE reached out to GLP – a trusted partner – to take the lead in these three key elements of the new initiative.

The Journey

In three quick, creative, and collaborative weeks, we designed an online learning program for Financial Navigators. It is housed in an easy-to-use learning platform and is highly engaging and focused on learning.

The online course includes a number of tools to support Navigators responding to clients’ immediate needs such as a job aid that offers a process to follow each time they meet with a client. The Resource Library includes valuable information on 36 topics, nested across 6 common concerns. It provides Navigators with access to national resources and local (city-specific) toolkits. The CFE Fund created an on-demand set of short training videos integrated into the online course to help Navigators visualize using the Compass platform during client sessions.

In June 2020, the Navigators’ learning program went live! Over 100 people across 10 partner cities requested to start the program, with a plan to start a 2nd cohort in 21 additional cities. During the virtual launch we received requests from busy supervisors who also wanted to take the training to support the Navigators and to continue their own learning.

Some initial feedback we’ve received from Navigators said:

“The training was interactive and easy to use.”

“I like how the resource guide is put together with the functionality it has to navigate between the topics and getting back to the table of contents.”

The Impact

CFE wisely requested that GLP build learning evaluation into the program from the start. We did so through a series of self-checks, two-part final evaluations, and support sessions for each Navigator. We are keen to track results, and to marry these with the data that will be collected around each Navigator/client interaction. We expect that this program will not only help community members swim in these tumultuous waters, but, most importantly, will help them to know they are not alone!

Read more and see samples from the learning program.