Despite its glitzy glamour and luxurious exterior, more than half of South Florida’s residents are struggling to get by. No one knows this more than Felipe Pinzón, Senior Vice President of Programs for Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF), an organization which focuses on providing job placement and legal services for those who are in need.
Understanding the diversity and challenges that exist in the region, Felipe has devoted his career to helping combat poverty throughout South Florida by implementing a program that would not only provide families with employment opportunities, but that would also help them achieve economic success through workforce development, economic support and asset building.
Pioneered by the Casey Foundation in 2006, Felipe implemented the CWF program at Hispanic Unity of Florida in 2011 after realizing that its current model was not effectively helping South Florida families break their cycle of poverty. While HUF was successfully helping with job placement, many of them still lacked the skills or financial wherewithal to properly manage their finances to invest in their future economic growth. Felipe understood that by properly teaching them how to budget and distribute their money, they would be able to go further and achieve economic success and upward mobility.
Among the services that the CWF provides, individuals are able to receive vocational training, learn about financial education, access financial resources, secure jobs, understand the nuances around purchasing a home or a vehicle as well as attaining entrepreneurship skills. Additionally, CWF at Hispanic Unity of Florida has formed strategic alliances to offer preschool, summer camp, ESOL classes, and workshops that help to keep youth engaged and their families working.
Over the past five years, approximately 1000 participants of the program have not only achieved a substantial increase in savings and a decrease in debt, but have also been able to make great strides in achieving their goal of financial independence. Today, almost 50 percent have been able to purchase a vehicle or a home, start a business, or even complete higher education through proper management of their finances and establishing a good line of credit.
Although the path to financial stability is not a sprint, but a marathon, Felipe is committed to investing in every family that comes through their doors and inspiring them to shift from living paycheck to paycheck and fully operating in the prosperous life of the American Dream.