Model & Strategy

Compass Working Capital provides incentive-based financial coaching and savings programs that empower working, low-income families to build assets, achieve their financial goals and become financially secure. More broadly, Compass seeks to build a leading nonprofit financial services organization that promotes financial security and economic mobility for working poor families by influencing field-related practice and policy.

Compass is the first nonprofit organization in the U.S. to launch an asset building model for the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, an employment and savings program for families who live in federally subsidized housing – a market with the potential to reach approximately 1.6 million eligible households nationwide. The Compass FSS model identifies and invests in working, low-income families who seek to build a strong financial future. The program couples financial coaching and education with a powerful earnings and savings incentive to help participants increase their income, build assets, establish a strong credit history, access high quality financial products and reduce their reliance on public assistance.

At a Glance
Founded: 2005
Founder & Executive Director: Sherry Riva
Systemic Poverty
Location of work: Domestic, Northeast
Compass Working Capital
Boston, MA
Where families Aspire. Plan. Invest.
Sherry Riva of Compass Working Capital
Meet Sherry Riva

Sherry Riva is the Founder and Executive Director of Compass Working Capital (“Compass”). Sherry founded Compass after more than a decade working with various direct service organizations that served low-income women and families, including several years running a transitional shelter for women in Seattle, WA. During this time, Sherry observed first-hand the cycle of poverty that traps many working poor families. She launched Compass, an organization rooted in the anti-poverty and asset development field, to empower working poor families to build savings and assets as a pathway out of poverty.

Sherry is part of the 2015 class of GLG (Gerson Lehrman Group) Social Impact Fellows joining 12 world-leading innovators and nonprofit leaders. Sherry was also a 2013 recipient of Citi’s Community Development Innovation and Impact Fund. In 2013, Compass was selected to the Social Impact 100, the first-ever, broad index of U.S. nonprofits with proven results and strong potential to scale.

IMPACT

A multi-year, quasi-experimental study of Compass’s program concluded that participants earned more income and received fewer welfare payments than their matched peers. They also achieved positive credit and debt outcomes that exceeded benchmarks.

An interim cost-benefit analysis found that participants 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.

In 2018, Compass leveraged its on-the-ground expertise to help pass federal legislation that will expand the scope and impact of an asset-building program for families living in federally subsidized housing, and increase federal funding for the program.

  • RT @amprog: Researchers looked at 1,000 children and young adults ages 0 to 22 in the Washington, D.C., area. Just about 7% of white child…
  • RT @TalkPoverty: The cities most at risk of a Census undercount are also areas with high COVID-19 rates. Inaccurate counts can mean losin…
  • RT @SenBooker: 70% of the wealth in this country is in the hands of just 10% of households. We must close this wealth gap. Baby Bonds is on…
  • Op-ed: Covid-19 has financially crushed Black and Latino Americans. How we can help https://t.co/DN5oHzAQVu @CNBC
  • According to @uscensusbureau, of the 38.1m people living in poverty in 2019, 56 percent were women. #COVID19 has pu… https://t.co/ZjRcVyQqlr
  • The 'shecession': why economic crisis is affecting women more than men. From February to May, 11.5 million women lo… https://t.co/oB0yhdgvqn
  • RT @4SharedInsight: Thanks @DCChildrensLaw and @CompassWorkCap for sharing your experiences involving clients in decision-making. Another g…
  • RT @TrevonDLogan: Since there will be a delay in the extension of unemployment benefits, it is useful to think of what this delay might mea…
  • RT @BettyFrancisco: The @amprog National Advisory Council on Eliminating the Black-White Wealth Gap offers a blueprint for tackling the per…
  • Registration Is Now Open for our 5th Annual National FSS Conference. We've going virtual on Oct 20-22, 2020. Reserv… https://t.co/rTTCVZNNPM
  • RT @birdgirl1001: “If this pattern continued over time and with no major policy changes, it would take more than 20 years just to return to…
  • RT @_blusummers: The “median Black family income in 2018 was US$36,000, compared to nearly $83,000 among white families...Mirroring the cit…
  • RT @tonywest: Today’s must read from ⁦⁦@axios:⁩ “[D]ecades of reporting [shows] that the wealth gap is the product of centuries of inequali…
  • RT @axios: The two parallel economic realities: Many people with financial assets and white-collar jobs have actually benefited from the e…
  • Racial Inequity in MA is largely attributable to discriminatory housing policies. A new provision in the econ. dev.… https://t.co/vdL421wIdR
  • This @axios piece debunks 10 myths on the racial wealth gap. Myth: gap can be closed by individual actions, like… https://t.co/kLx0b96rod
  • The Federal Reserve's statistic stating that 37% of Americans would not be able to cover a $400 emergency expense w… https://t.co/0yXleLvSgX
  • RT @buildcommwealth: As CARES Act unemployment benefits expire, many households will face increased income volatility. This is a time where…
  • A recent report by @LendingTree revealed stark inequality when it comes to qualifying for mortgages. Black borrower… https://t.co/N0DFg3IGK0
  • RT @AmplifyLatinx: This Thurs, July 23 at 11am @skoczela, @Juana_B_Matias & @tracyacorley will present the results from a critical survey o…