Experiencing incarceration greatly affects one's credit reputation. The majority of recently released community members will have no recent credit history, and at least a third of people coming home from prison will have no credit history whatsoever.
In the United States, more than 650,000 people are released from prison every year. Formerly incarcerated people have trouble accessing credit and financial products like low interest loans and low cost accounts, making it difficult to gain financial stability or build generational wealth. In New York alone, up to 21,000 people come home from long-term incarceration every year, where a majority have been away from their families and communities for over 10 years and nearly two-thirds are parents. About 30 percent will end up struggling to access economic security due to their absence from the credit and finance space. When someone has never used credit or has not used credit in the past seven years, their credit profile becomes invisible or stale. In addition to their lack of recent credit history, returning citizens have not had access to financial knowledge for nearly a decade.
finEQUITY has launched two programs: an in-prison education program and a credit-building loan program. These services aim to bridge the gap between the racial wealth divide, providing community members with both a recent credit history and the financial know-how to sustain a good credit reputation.
We help the formerly incarcerated attain a visible credit score so that they can acquire better outcomes as they search for housing, employment, and affordable rates on cars, phones, and utilities. We provide community members with digital orientations on how credit impacts them after release from prison, using credible messengers (formerly incarcerated members who have been home and successfully navigated credit and capital issues). Following the digital orientations, we provide a free credit building opportunity designed to ensure our participants have both a visible credit score and at least seven months of positive information on their credit report.
100 percent of participants in finEQUITY’s credit-building loan program are on track to establish a healthy score.
The typical community member returning home after incarceration will spend up to $4,000 annually in extra costs (including indirect costs that lead to more fines and fees) as a result of their credit score. These extra costs compromise their financial stability as well as their access to housing, health care, employment, and more.
2019 Fellow for Blue Ridge Labs at Robin Hood
Selected as a Fellow for Fund for New Leadership
Team Lead Briane Cornish was a member of the Criminal Justice Initiatives team and the Governor’s Council on Community Reintegration and Reentry
Improved community outreach for research on economic needs of families impacted by incarceration.
Financial technology expertise to inform impact design and future product roadmap.
Mentors on business model, product marketing, fundraising, and market positioning.