Abt Associates releases interim cost-benefit analysis of Compass programs

Today, the global research firm Abt Associates released an interim cost-benefit analysis of Compass Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) programs in Lynn and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The study found that participants in these programs gained more than $10,000 in increased income over a five-year period as a result of participation in the program, at a net cost to the government of only $276 per participant. The $10,000 figure accounts for reductions to participants’ federal benefits, such as federal welfare benefits, as their earnings improved. These reductions - along with other cost savings - offset 97 percent of the cost of administering the programs.  

Click to read the press release and full report.

Early Results from Compass-POAH Partnership Captured in Whitepaper

For the past two years, Compass has partnered with the nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) to implement some of the very first FSS programs in the country for families who live in properties like the ones POAH owns and manages: federally subsidized affordable housing that is owned and managed by a private organization or company. Early participant outcomes from these programs have been very promising, and are captured in this whitepaper that we co-authored with POAH about the partnership. Click here to read the report.


Social Innovations Journal: The Compass Family Self-Sufficiency Model

Social Innovations Journal: The Compass Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Model

The Winter 2017 issue of the Social Innovations Journal is a collection of articles on promising social innovations that have been introduced in Greater Boston, including a piece by Sherry Riva, Compass's Founder and Exectuvie Director, on the organization's innovative, evidence-based model for the federal Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. Click the image below to read the full article and view the rest of the issue.

Rigorous, independent study confirms impact of Compass FSS program on family economic security

Abt Associates released today the results of their rigorous evaluation of Compass Working Capital’s model for the federal Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program. The report points to Compass’s model as a promising approach for helping participants in federal rental assistance programs to increase earnings, build assets and pay down debt.

This study joins a small number of rigorous evaluations of the FSS program that have been conducted to date. It is the first study to examine credit and debt outcomes for FSS program participants, which are two key indicators of household financial security. Abt Associates followed rental assistance recipients in FSS programs offered by Compass in partnership with local housing authorities in Lynn and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

After an average of 40 months in the program, participants in the Compass FSS program earned more and received less welfare payments than their matched peers. They also achieved positive credit and debt outcomes that exceeded benchmarks. Specific findings include:

  • Increased Earnings: Participation in the Compass FSS program was associated with an average gain in annual earnings of $6,305
  • Reduced Debt: Compass FSS participants experienced an average decrease in total derogatory debt of $764 and an average decrease in credit card debt of $655
  • Stronger Credit: The average credit score rose by 23 points, among those Compass FSS participants who entered the program with a score. The share of participants with a prime credit score rose by 14 percentage points.
  • Reduced Welfare income: Participation in Compass FSS was associated with a decline of $496 in annual welfare payments

FSS is a 25-year old U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program designed to help recipients of federal rental assistance make progress toward economic security. The evaluation confirms that well-run, voluntary FSS programs can support families with low incomes to increase their earnings and become more financially secure. These results also add further weight to calls to streamline and improve the FSS program - a chief aim of the bipartisan legislation recently introduced by U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

Compass partners with public housing authorities, nonprofit housing organizations, and private housing owners to administer an innovative asset building approach to FSS. Like traditional FSS programs, Compass FSS provides participants with an escrow account that increases in value as participants’ earnings and rent contributions increase. In addition, Compass FSS offers client-driven financial coaching to help participants build their financial capability and savings, pay down high-interest debt, make progress in achieving their employment goals and improve their credit scores and budgeting. Compass now operates this FSS model at ten sites in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The organization is also supporting local partners across the country to integrate core aspects of the Compass FSS model into their local FSS programs, through a national training and technical assistance network.

Click here to learn more about the study at Abt Associates’s website.

Click here to download a one-page summary of the study.

Compass featured on blog of America Forward, a national nonpartisan policy initiative

America Forward is a nonpartisan policy initiative of national venture philanthropy fund New Profit, and works to advance a public policy agenda that champions innovative and effective solutions to our country’s most pressing social problems. In the run up to this year's presidential election, America Forward has been featuring leaders from several of its coalition members on its blog to talk about some of these solutions. Today's post was authored by Sherry Riva, Compass's Founder and Executive Director, and looks at ways that government and nonprofits can partner together to create more pathways out of poverty for more low-income families in the U.S. To read the blog post and check out the rest of the America Forward blog, click here.

A letter from Compass's Executive Director on the launch of our National FSS Network

On Monday, September 19, 2016 Compass officially launched our National FSS Network, which will provide training and technical assistance to implementing partners across the country. As part of the launch, these founding partners gathered for three days of training to learn more about how to integrate aspects of Compass's asset building model for the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program into their own local FSS programs.

In celebration of this exciting new venture for Compass, our Founder and Executive Director, Sherry Riva, composed a letter detailing the history of this effort and our vision for this network. Click here to read the letter in full.

Compass selected as finalist for statewide NonProfit Excellence Award

Compass is honored to have been selected by the Massachusetts NonProfit Network (MNN) as a finalist for the NonProfit Excellence Award in Innovation. According to MNN, judges reviewed over 200 nominations for seven nonprofit awards, honoring the "dedication, passion, and impact" of nonprofit organizations and leaders across the state. Winners will be announced on June 27, 2016 at the State House, as part of the organization's annual NonProfit Awareness Day. We look forward to connecting that day with all the fantastic finalists and other great organizations working to improve life for all people here in Massachusetts.

For more about the awards and a complete list of finalists, click here.

Compass releases report on national roundtable "Integrating Asset Building and Financial Capability Strategies into Subsidized Housing Programs"

On November 19, 2015, more than 65 practitioners, policymakers, advocates, and researchers gathered at a roundtable sponsored by Compass Working Capital to discuss opportunities to integrate asset building and financial capability strategies into subsidized housing programs. The roundtable focused in particular on opportunities offered by the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program – an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designed to help residents of subsidized housing increase their earnings and build savings. The roundtable also considered a broader set of opportunities, including the possibility of modifying the basic model of subsidized housing to build in regular, automatic savings for all housing subsidy participants.

As a follow up to the roundtable, Compass is pleased to release a report that summarizes the broad themes discussed at the roundtable and captures a set of next steps for moving forward a common agenda designed to maximize opportunities for subsidized housing participants to build assets and financial capability. Click the image below to view the full report.

Compass to launch housing policy innovation pilot in Cambridge

This winter, in partnership with Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA), Compass will launch a pilot project to test the impact of automatically providing all residents of a public housing development with a special savings account, into which CHA will deposit half of any increased rent that the resident pays as a result of increased earnings. Check out this blog post from our partners at Abt Associates to learn more about the program and its potential to reshape the experience of subsidized housing programs for many low-income families.


Compass Executive Director named GLG Social Impact Fellow

We are excited to share that Sherry Riva, Founder and Executive Director of Compass Working Capital, has been named a 2015 GLG Social Impact Fellow. The Social Impact Fellowship gives twelve leaders and their organizations ongoing access to one-on-one learning from GLG’s global teaching membership. It is an honor for Compass to be included alongside other nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs who are implementing innovative approaches to address complex social issues. To learn more about the fellowship and this year's class, visit glgsocialimpact.com/fellows or watch this short video on the recent fellows convening in New York:

GLG Social Impact Fellowship brings together twelve of the world's most promising nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs. To kick-off the Fellowship, GLG convened the Fellows for two days of teaching, learning, and networking with the GLG community. This year's class focuses on key challenges including healthcare, poverty, sustainability, and girls' and women's empowerment.

Announcing National Roundtable on Integrating Asset Building and Financial Capability Strategies into Subsidized Housing Programs, hosted by Compass

On November 19th, 2015, Compass will host a roundtable with national leaders in the housing and asset building fields along with government agencies, researchers, policy experts and funders to build consensus on the expanded integration into housing assistance of promising strategies that support low-income families to build assets and financial capabilities. Special focus will be paid to immediate opportunities within the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program to support thousands of U.S. families to move up and out of poverty.

For more details and to learn how you can participate, click here.

Compass FSS Program in Lynn selected for Cummings Foundation $100K for 100

The Cummings Foundation, one of the largest charitable foundations in New England, has selected Compass as one of 100 Massachusetts nonprofits to receive a $100,000 grant. This support will help provide increased coaching and support to families in Lynn as they approach program graduation and take important steps toward greater financial security. To learn more about our Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program in Lynn, operated in partnership with Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development, click here.

  Pictured:  The Compass Team in Lynn - Carlos Langa, Sandra Suarez, and Edinson Corporan - celebrating a grant of $100,000 from Cummings Foundation in support of our Lynn FSS Program.

Pictured: The Compass Team in Lynn - Carlos Langa, Sandra Suarez, and Edinson Corporan - celebrating a grant of $100,000 from Cummings Foundation in support of our Lynn FSS Program.

Compass Graduate featured in The Boston Sunday Globe

On Sunday, May 24th, The Boston Globe ran a piece on four local families who have succeeded in moving up and out of poverty. The story featured Vilmarys Cintron, a graduate of one of our financial coaching and savings programs operated in partnership with Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development.

Our programs support residents of subsidized housing to build savings and assets as a pathway out of poverty. With support from Compass, Vilmarys transitioned out of public housing, purchased her own home, and launched an in-home daycare business. Click here to read more about Vilmarys's story and those of other Compass families.