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
89 South Street
Suite 804
Boston, MA 02111
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

81% of families enrolled in Compass flagship programs for 2 years have increased their savings; 60% have increased their annual income.

Compass participants have built over $2M in savings in the last 10 years.

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.

Compass’s public-private model leverages a well-designed but historically underutilized federal housing program that empowers working poor families to build assets and break the cycle of poverty.

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  • Thank you @onefamilyinc for training our team of coaches on innovative career pathways and sharing tools and resour… https://t.co/Sl0LO4b5iu
  • After a few years in the FSS program, Sherilla decided to use some of the savings she had built so far to pursue a… https://t.co/C8oxqHeobk
  • RT @fkarnas1: An Open Letter to the New Executive Director of the USCH Dear Dr. Marbut Congratulations on your appointment to the role of…
  • Congratulations to the first class of graduates from the FSS Program that we run in partnership with @TheCalebGrouphttps://t.co/jGamqCRgcM
  • History And Housing Discrimination: Why Neighborhoods In The United States Are Still So Segregated via @forbes https://t.co/VpLr7Yxk4N
  • New @amprog report shows that despite U.S. labor market job growth & low unemployment, Black workers still face mor… https://t.co/T1y3c6Scsm
  • Please join us in supporting families with low incomes to build savings and work toward their financial goals. Your… https://t.co/HJEtlwbyHz
  • RT @SBAgov: #DidYouKnow small businesses create 2 out of every 3 net new jobs in the United States? 😮 Show your support for entrepreneurs…
  • New Study shows that Cory Booker’s baby bonds nearly close the racial wealth gap for young adults.… https://t.co/JFSjaZo2tC
  • Congratulations @stepville. Your book has ignited a national dialogue to change the narrative around poverty! https://t.co/wSCVqa48Et
  • A @newamerica report on The Emerging Millennial Wealth Gap, shows millennials earn 20% less than boomers at the sam… https://t.co/JoBtJHbHPY
  • RT @CityLab: Connecticut's approach to affordable housing creates pockets of poverty, where low-income people are locked out of opportuniti…
  • RT @JMorduch: "Poverty is not so much about the choices people make, but rather what they find themselves forced to choose between." - @JoW…
  • We’re growing and looking for talented, mission-driven individuals to join our team. New positions: - Data Analyst… https://t.co/ZAysVbKTtG
  • RT @CityLab: This study posits that the effects of income volatility early in life, which can have a measured outcome on brain functioning…
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