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Local Organization Helped Her Turn Her Life Around & Now She's Presented at The White House

The Newport-based Brighton Center had a representative present at the White House last week.
Mellissa Hall Sommer, Director of Workforce Development for Brighton Center, presented the center’s success with the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) philosophy of service bundling at the White House in the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) What Works Showcase. This occurs on the heels of President Obama signing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in July and recognizing Brighton Center’s Center for Employment Training (CET) as a national model for Workforce Development. 
Only 10 organizations funded through SIF received the honor and designation of presenting proven and novel solutions to address some of the toughest challenges in areas of economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development. 
Sommer and a CET graduate Brittany Gee, a Brighton Center customer presented the achievements, impact, and life-changing results of bundling services through the Financial Opportunity Center philosophy. 
“It is a real honor to be included in the What Works Showcase with some of the most innovative programs in the nation," Tammy Weidinger, Brighton Center President and CEO said. "Our FOC has been a highlight of the showcase, especially Brittany Gee’s presentation of how she has used the opportunity to set her life on track. White House staff appreciated her honest portrayal of the hard work it took, and continues to take, to create her future. The continuation of the Social Innovation Funds will be critical to keep taking innovative strategies, like FOC’s to scale."
The Financial Opportunity Center provides the structure for bundling services in three core areas: financial coaching, employment services, and family & work supports to give families a solid foundation to achieve self-sufficiency. 
Brighton Center’s Financial Opportunity Center is funded in part by a national award of SIF resources funneled through a sub-grantee process by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky. Core bundled services are also funded by the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. 
The event began with a welcome by Cecilia Munoz, Assistant to the President, and Director of Domestic Policy Council and was well-attended with a diverse audience including White House and Agency staff, philanthropic organizations, private funder, non-profit sector thought leaders. 
The live, interactive event featured a diverse selection of SIF investments, including social entrepreneurs leading innovative nonprofits and social enterprises transforming lives and strengthening communities.
Brighton Center’s Financial Opportunity Center results:
Center for Employment Training (CET) average wages:
• -Pre - $7,990
• -Post - $22,487
• -Average Wage Gain: $14,497
Average Net Worth Increase Through the FOC: $6,497.10
Family & Work Supports and Financial Services: 408 individuals 
Food Insecurity: 50% of families at risk of experiencing food insecurity avoided it through services provided under the Financial Opportunity Center philosophy of bundling.
Brittany Gee's story
Brittany, like so many others, was dealing with the effects of the struggling economy when she sought assistance at a local career center. After losing her job and falling behind on bills, she was facing foreclosure and running out of options. 
At the career center, she met with a Brighton Center employee from Brighton Center’s Center for Employment Training (CET) who told her about the debt free career training and connections to additional family and work supports. 
Brittany enrolled in CET’s Medical Assisting despite feeling unsure of what to expect but very determined to succeed and create a better life for herself and child. From the start, Brittany greeted her classmates with professionalism and a positive attitude. She was always willing to lend a helping hand, give encouragement, and assist others. She worked tirelessly at mastering her clinical and patient care skills.
While working toward a new, high demand career, she also worked with staff to stabilize her home situation. Emergency Assistance services connected Brittany to family and work support resources such as public benefits and basic necessities. She also worked with coaches in Financial Services and successfully saved her home from foreclosure along with attending financial education workshops. 
While at CET, Brittany was hired for Federal Work Study as the Front Desk Assistant and consistently demonstrated a strong commitment and adaptability to changing schedules and requirements of the position. Brittany displayed genuine compassion and excellence in treating others with respect and care. 
Brittany was hired by St. Elizabeth Healthcare at a livable wage with benefits and now has the tools, skills, and resources to sustain self-sufficiency. She is also planning on continuing her education by pursuing an Associates Degree in nursing.
-Staff report
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