DESIS: The Future of Financial Empowerment

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Financial Empowerment Counseling

Designing for Financial Empowerment

Many New Yorkers are financially vulnerable. Nearly one in every two households lacks sufficient savings to sustain three months at the poverty level if they were to lose their job or have unexpected medical expenses. Financial counseling works to empower clients with behaviors, mindsets and other tools for building long-term financial security. It can play an important part to empower New Yorkers with behaviors, mindsets and other tools for building long-term financial security.

Achieving the goal of long-term behavior change requires sustained engagement by the client, making retention one of the most important factors affecting the success of the service. NYC’s Office of Financial Empowerment shows that between three and five counseling sessions are typically needed to begin achieving results such as debt reduction.

With the goal of client retention in mind, the Financial Counseling Services team asked: How can Financial Empowerment Centers encourage more long-term engagement from their clients? Our designs were aimed at helping New Yorkers engage and stay motivated through the financial counseling process.

Pocket Guide for Retention

This credit card-sized fold-out journey map fits in a client’s wallet and serves as a “membership card” and a reminder of tasks between appointments. Clients and counselors can also use it to take notes about their work together. These prototypes were put into production and tested with clients and counselors in the beginning of 2017.

Wayfinding for Live Events

We designed wayfinding signage to support live “open houses” events.

Facilitators’ Guide for Live Events

In addition to the wayfinding for live events, we also designed a guide to help counselors or facilitators set up events in different kinds of spaces. This was in collaboration with Eric Ho from miLES.


Parsons School of Design

  • Foossa (service design)
  • mILES (spatial design)
  • Corey Chao (video)
  • NYC Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE)
  • Neighborhood Trust
  • Citi Community Development

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