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Refer Clients




The Center for Working Families

The Center for Working Families® (CWF) is an approach to help low and moderate income families reach financial stability and move up the economic ladder. Pioneered by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and now supported by other major funders, the CWF offers an innovative framework for how families can increase their earnings and income (“Earn It”), reduce their financial transaction costs (“Keep It”), and build wealth for themselves and their communities (“Grow It”).

CWFs are in place in 13 major metropolitan areas across the United States. The Greater Detroit Network of Centers for Working Families, launched in late 2008 within five community-based organizations, is the 14th collaborative. The United Way of Southeastern Michigan (UWSEM) and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) function as the Intermediary for the Greater Detroit Network, providing access to training, technical support, funding, and evaluation planning.

The CWF approach brings together – or bundles – access to a full range of essential economic supports in a convenient neighborhood location to help families build self-sufficiency, stabilize their finances, and move ahead. Staff designs services that support each participant’s goals, including:
  • Employment training and coaching
  • Benefits screening
  • Financial education and one-on-one coaching
CWFs make it easier for families to tap into all of the services and supports for which they qualify, filling in the gaps and helping them weather unexpected setbacks. CWFs are integrated into trusted community organizations and institutions and work with families on a long-term basis, providing supports to them as their needs change.

Come talk with us about solutions that work for your family.
Earn it. Keep it. Grow it!


Many people struggle from paycheck to paycheck trying to pay for food, housing, clothing, and other basic necessities. Families without savings who run out of money before the next check have few options beyond borrowing from companies who may charge excessive fees, which creates continual debt. For a family earning low wages, one loan can set them back financially for years. Employment alone is not always enough to help people achieve financial independence.

Centers for Working Families offer families several significant advantages at no cost:
  • An employment specialist is available to help participants assess their skills and interests, determine if training is right for them, get ready for interviews and a new career, and find jobs. These services give participants an opportunity to increase their income – leading to a better quality of life.
  • CWF staff understand the serious challenges of supporting a family while working hard to upgrade skills. Our benefits staff will help participants determine how they may be able to bridge the gaps between their family’s needs and the public benefits and resources that may greatly assist them in times of financial difficulty. Public benefits may include things such as food stamps, health insurance for children, and fuel assistance.
  • Free tax preparation services increase family income by maximizing use of the Earned Income Tax Credit (worth up to $4,300 annually for a family).
  • Participants meet with a certified financial coach to discuss their goals, develop a realistic budget and assess the family’s financial situation. Together, they develop an action plan that will move the participant onto a path that will make it possible for them to achieve their goals. During one-on-one coaching sessions, participants will learn how to recognize and change unhealthy spending habits and how to better manage their money. Participants will learn in our Financial Fitness classes how to stop living paycheck to paycheck and start building wealth. These skills are important to attaining financial stability now and financial security in the future.

At every CWF, employment, benefits and financial specialists are working together to help participants maximize their opportunities for financial stability. Participating in a CWF means you will meet one-on-one with specialists who will guide and support you and/or your family in achieving your career and financial dreams.

Community Agencies! Make an online referral below

Individual making referral: Phone:
Agency/Dept Email
Please let the client know you're referring them so they expect our call!
Client being referred: Phone
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Please briefly express why you feel this person/family is ready for the Center for Working Families Program:

For questions and more information, please call 248.920.6060x 2400 or email cwf@lighthouseoakland.org



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