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The City Journals

Free financial counseling is available to all South Salt Lake residents

Feb 16, 2021 03:17PM ● By Bill Hardesty

SSL opens a free Financial Empowerment Center for all residents. (Photo by Lalmch from Pixabay)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

In an effort to expand the services of Promise SSL and to fulfill the third promise—everyone has the opportunity to be healthy and to prosper—South Salt Lake opened a Financial Empowerment Center in November 2020.

“This center is a testament to the type of community we have here in South Salt Lake,” Natalie Pinkney, South Salt Lake councilmember at-large, said. “As I heard about countless families struggling as the world was halted in March, I knew that we couldn’t just stand by so I presented the idea of opening a Financial Empowerment Center so that we could do our part to help our neighbors.”

Kelli Meranda, the director of Promise SSL, explained the center has four purposes: lower debt, increase credit score, increase savings, and help open a savings or checking account at an institution of their choice.

“This service is available to all residents and is completely free,” Meranda said.

Partnership

The idea of a Financial Empowerment Center is prevalent in large cities back East. South Salt Lake applied for a grant, but the city was too small. However, Pinkney and SSL staff were not deterred. They needed a partner.

Mountain America Credit Union became that partner. The credit union already partners with Promise SSL helping teach classes in the after-school programs. A project team was created led by Pinkney. Meranda was also a member.

“We were able to visit some best-in-class Empowerment Centers virtually,” Meranda said.

The project team used such knowledge to build the SSL Financial Empowerment Center.

“I’m thrilled to bring this service to South Salt Lake residents. It’s exciting to have our city join forces with a great financial partner like Mountain America Credit Union who has a reputation for community engagement and financial guidance,” said Ray deWolfe, councilmember at-large.

In full disclosure, deWolfe is the AVP of Employee Experience at Mountain America Credit Union.

Services

Due to the pandemic, services are only available virtually by teleconference or by phone.

“The service is based on a person’s financial goals, whether small or large,” Meranda said.

Currently, one-on-one coaching sessions is what is available, but the plan is to include classes.

Residents can call 801-483-6057 to schedule their first coaching session. Residents are asked to bring certain documents to the first session to give the financial counselor a picture of their financial situation. Based on the situation and the person’s goals, additional coaching sessions are scheduled.

All information is confidential. Promise SSL has trained financial counselors to help families access other resources like food pantries or employment services.

“I am so grateful to have the support of Councilmember Ray deWolfe and the help of Promise South Salt Lake and Mountain America Credit Union,” Pinkney said. “Without them, we wouldn’t have our city’s first-ever center dedicated to helping our residents out of poverty and into financial empowerment.”