Client and Customer Stories

Impacting Individuals, Institutions, and The Market

With our clients and customers, we’re making financial security possible for all workers. See how we’re coaching individuals, strengthening institutions, and surfacing insights that fuel innovation.

Impacting Individuals, Institutions, and The Market

With our clients and customers, we’re making financial security possible for all workers. See how we’re coaching individuals, strengthening institutions, and surfacing insights that fuel innovation.

TrustPlus Client Stories

“After my husband passed away, I realized that I had no choice but to take the financial lead for me and my teenage daughter. I could no longer hide from my finances, so I stepped up and took control.”

Lina and her husband, both longtime residents of Washington Heights, first signed up for financial coaching in 2012 through Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union (NTFCU). With the guidance of their Financial Coach, Nathalie, her husband signed up for a credit builder loan at NTFCU to build his credit. Lina had also transitioned into working full-time and started looking into ways to improve her own credit. They were on a path to financial security, but then Lina’s husband passed away unexpectedly.

Over the following year, Lina worked closely with Nathalie, meeting every month to sort through the mountain of paperwork required to settle a life insurance claim and secure survivor benefits. It took lots of time and energy to change account owners and obtain social security benefits for her daughter. Through all of this, Lina still continued to build a savings cushion, and supported her daughter’s transition into college.

“Nathalie’s support during that particular phase was crucial for me. It was so important for me to have someone without the emotional attachment to my situation, who was able to talk me through my finances at the time. It was a really difficult time, but it was good to have a monthly conversation with my Financial Coach in an objective, focused way and discuss the tasks at hand, while still mourning.”

Once again, it felt like Lina was on a path to financial security. She was taking ownership over her family’s finances for the first time, including opening her own, new accounts. Her credit score was going up, she was using the credit cards wisely, and enjoying her new bank accounts—then COVID-19 hit.

When the pandemic shut down New York City, Lina lost her job and was only able to find part-time work for many months. She primarily survived off of her daughter’s social security benefits and unemployment insurance. With her Financial Coach’s help, she also secured a rent grant from New York State for $2,500 which provided much needed relief and enabled her to move apartments without carrying any arrears from herprevious lease.

“My Coach has been giving me time to adjust to these transitions and the pain of losing a few family members throughout the last year. I put a pause on many of my goals, but now I am settled and looking forward to picking up where I left off.” 

Because of the strong financial foundation Lina built with Neighborhood Trust and NTFCU over the last nine years, she has been able to weather the shocks of the COVID-19 crisis and the trauma of losing loved ones, while still keeping an eye on her plans for the future.

Today, Nathalie and Neighborhood Trust continue to support Lina’s financial stability, and the pursuit of her long-term goals, even through this difficult and financially-tight time. Lina has opened and maintained a 529 plan for her daughter, so she’s prepared if her daughter doesn’t get a full-ride scholarship next year, as she did this year. She has a credit builder loan through the fintech Happy Mango. And she is pursuing full-time job opportunities to get back to her previous income level. “I’m looking forward to feeling like I have my feet on solid ground again.”

“I started TrustPlus at a time when my credit was not great, I was living with a roommate, I was just dead with student loan debt, and I just saw no way out.”

Milly, a comedian and writer living in Brooklyn, says “even in my standup, I would joke ‘what’s a savings account?’ I had no idea how I could manage anything. And within a year, my credit score went up 60 points.” She found out about TrustPlus through a
community outreach effort, offering critical support and financial coaching to those in need, which reached her online community of local comedians. Milly’s family always emphasized their goal for her to graduate from college but nevertalked about the potential downsides of student loans or how the credit system works.

When her college suggested she take out $20,000 in private student loans to pay for the balance not covered by her federal loans, she had no reason to question their recommendation. Her sister, with the best intentions of supporting Milly’s college dreams, co-signed on two loans, totaling $20,000.

In the 10 years since she borrowed the original $20,000, Milly has paid $33,000 but still has a balance of $17,000. Her college’s financial aid office did not make clear to Milly that private student loans can feature high and variable interest rates, not the low- and fixed-rates characteristic of federal student loans. Her lender did not accurately assess Milly’s ability-to-repay and failed to clarify for Milly’s sister the implications of co-signing the loans.

Milly has done her best never to miss her $350 monthly payment, but over the years she was forced to make difficult decisions, prioritizing rent, utilities, and food expenses over paying her student loans. These missed payments threw her repayment schedule off
track and damaged her and her sister’s credit, which strained their relationship for several years.

Had her college offered Milly recommendations for scholarship or grant opportunities or enrolled her in a payment plan with the school directly, she might have paid off the balance years ago; she estimates that she would have saved an extra $13,000 to date.
Working with her Financial Coach, Ashley, Milly decided to make several lump-sum payments towards her private loans—and even paid one off in full—while her federal loan payments are suspended.

“Before I started coaching, [this loan] just seemed like a hopeless, insurmountable issue.”

Now she is prepared to avoid predatory loans in the future and feels empowered to tackle her debt head-on. With Ashley’s guidance, she refinanced the second loan with a lower interest rate and without her sister as a co-signer. After years of being denied a refinance loan due to her poor credit rating, it was a moment of celebration.

“Ashley has not only kept me on track and kept me moving, but also her coaching has really transformed my relationship with money.”

For the first time in her life, Milly has a savings account with enough to cover one month of expenses and a prime credit score. She moved into her own apartment without roommates in 2021, a long-time goal. With her student loans under control and her housing situation stable, Milly plans to support her family, even in small ways, without expecting to get paid back.

Another long-term goal remains unchanged: quit her day job and earn a living through comedy, writing, and acting.

“I am finally seeing the light at the end of the student loan tunnel.”

“I was stuck a year ago. Now, I’m not completely financially stable, but I’m much, much better than a year ago…and I’m in the process of buying a home.”

A few years ago, Edward started driving for Uber on the weekends to supplement his income from his full-time job as an Assistant Manager at Cornell University, where he’s worked for over 19 years. He dreamed of saving up to buy a home for his family with room for his six kids and five grandkids to come visit. He earned the required licensing and found a new car that would meet Uber’s standards—everything was headed on the right track. But, behind the scenes, Edward was struggling with credit card debt and a low credit score.

“I was maxing out my credit cards not knowing it was affecting my credit negatively. I was using the cards like an emergency savings account, paying off a certain amount so I could use that amount in credit when I needed it a week later.”

Edward’s credit wasn’t strong enough to qualify for a car loan, so he asked his son to co-sign on the loan and help him with the monthly payments. Not long after, Edward’s son lost his job and the car was repossessed. Edward had lost his additional source of and owed over $3,000 on a car he no longer had. Meanwhile, he had no one to turn to for guidance, and he didn’t trust the credit card companies or auto loan provider to give him affordable repayment options.

“The interest was killing me—I paid just the minimum for so many years because I didn’t know that would affect my credit. They had no reason to tell me that there was a way to pay less in interest. If I didn’t have those credit cards hanging over me this whole time, I could’ve had my house by now. Credit is major, it’s important to know how to use it wisely.”

Edward remembered seeing an offer for TrustPlus financial coaching in a driver’s guide pamphlet he received through the Workers Benefit Fund, a portable benefits provider for delivery car and taxi drivers. He signed up for a session with his Financial Coach, Hector, who “helped me put everything to paper and start seeing the numbers.”

Hector encouraged Edward to get out of his arrangement with a credit repair company, which had fed Edward sales pitches and lies about how they could remove the defaulted car note from his credit report in exchange for $1,000 in 10 monthly installments. They worked on a budget to balance Edward’s cash flow and to help him stop relying on credit to bridge the gap between paychecks.

With the money he saved by no longer paying exorbitant interest fees on his cards and by cancelling his installment plan with the predatory credit repair company, Edward is now able to set aside a small amount of savings each month. He is prioritizing debt payments in the short-term to eventually free up more of his paycheck for savings in the future. He also set aside his stimulus check and tax refund for the down payment, a big step towards achieving his long-term goal of owning a home.

“I tried to remain hopeful and take things day by day. When I knew Tiffany [TrustPlus Financial Coach] was gonna call, I wanted to be sure I had good news for her.”

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Nade’s income disappeared overnight, upending her small cleaning business and her personal finances.

At the time she was expecting a baby with her husband, a taxi driver, dreading what COVID-19 might mean for her and her baby’s health and what the sudden financial freefall would do to her family, business, and employees.

“Nothing was working on my side during the pandemic. I remember I cried to Tiffany one day because I was thinking about how everything was upside down all of a sudden. She followed up with all the resources she could find. She went above my expectations. When those types of people reach out to you it empowers you to not give up because you have people counting on you.”

Tiffany worked with Nade to identify resources including expanded unemployment benefits through the CARES Act and ways to free up limited cash for necessities by negotiating with her creditors to defer payments. Nade also received a $1,000 cash grant in April 2020 from Humanity Forward, which partnered with Neighborhood Trust to distribute unconditional cash relief to Bronx residents early in the pandemic.

“All of us who received the payment, it made a really positive impact on our lives. Whether you use it for rent, electricity, or groceries—it just takes the weight off our shoulders a little bit.”

Over a year later, Nade and her family are on a path to financial security. She and her husband have juggled taking care of their 13-month-old with their work schedules, and she’s getting her business back on track. She has brought on two new employees and a
few contractors, giving her more flexibility in her work schedule depending on how many contracts she takes on.

“I’ve signed a few additional contracts that are paying well. I’ve now been able to pay myself and wipe out my personal credit cards, and I’m in the process of paying off the company credit cards.”

What does she think about her rollercoaster path to financial security since the onset of the pandemic? “I want to tell Tiffany, ‘I know you worry so much about me but I’m starting to do good so you don’t have to worry about me.’”

“Elise was great at helping me understand changes in the law including the CARES Act and the expanded Child Tax Credit. She helped me get the information I needed, like tracking down one of my private loans that wasn’t on my credit report. She is a great navigator and guide.”

Allison learned of TrustPlus Financial Coaching through her job, where she delivers adult education programs to parents experiencing poverty. The financial wellness benefit offering came at a consequential moment: Allison had just been notified that her next paycheck would be garnished, nearly all of it, by the IRS; her student loans and a store credit card were in default; she was two months behind on rent and utility bills; and she was receiving calls about unpaid medical bills—all while parenting her young son as a newly single mom.

Allison has worked in the nonprofit sector her entire career. She knows it’s a job path that typically does not lead to great monetary wealth. But she didn’t think it would be this challenging to make ends meet as a professional, especially as one who used to teach workshops on budgeting and personal finance:

“It’s easier to teach than it is to apply those lessons to yourself…It’s easy to forget about financial responsibilities when your main concern is rent and getting food on the table. Everything else falls by the wayside.”

Allison’s financial journey reflects the incremental, then transformational, change that can come with guidance on how to navigate financial systems and the pitfalls that can trap people in seemingly insurmountable debt. Neither her student loan servicer nor the U.S. Department of Education made clear to Allison that she could bring her student loans out of default for free using a rehabilitation plan; her credit card collection notices omitted the fact that she could get back into good standing by arranging a more affordable payment plan.

With the support of her TrustPlus Financial Coach, Allison is now on a path to financial security she once thought impossible. She enrolled in a rehabilitation plan for her student loans, qualifying for a $0/month payment plan under the CARES Act. Her student debt is now out of default and back with the original loan servicer. Her credit score went up more than 100 points, and her credit card is now in good standing.

Elise also worked with Allison to open a Roth IRA, designated for the future education of her son.

“I still have a million things to do, but I feel like I’m taking back control so I can work on bigger goals for the future.”

“I recently went to a 401k seminar at work but I wasn’t connecting, I couldn’t understand what I should do. Financial coaching definitely helped me take advantage of things like my 401k.”

Fiorela worked with Elise, her Financial Coach, to navigate retirement offerings through her employer, the National Association of Drug Abuse Problems. They also worked together to create a plan to pay off the credit card debt Fiorela accrued after college while working her first job in human services.

“I had only $40 of discretionary income to actually live my life after paying for the necessities.”

Growing up, Fiorela’s family didn’t talk much about money. In Peru, Fiorela lived a middle-class life with her grandparents until age nine when she moved to New Jersey to be with her parents. Her mom had just graduated college and her dad was working odd jobs to support the household. Fiorela still thinks about the challenges of transitioning from having financial security to navigating financial insecurity, while also adjusting to life in the U.S.

When she finishes paying down her debt, Fiorela wants to get a dual masters in social work and public policy because “in this country our systems—including healthcare, education and criminal justice—are limiting and counterproductive. A lot of things just don’t add up. But the combination of undergrad student loans, $20,000 in credit cards, and a fear of taking on even more student debt are strong deterrents from going to grad school.”

Financial coaching, Fiorela notes, offers a sense of empowerment as she charts her next steps:

“When I’m at a place where I’m managing my finances in a conscious, secure way, and I have positive emotions attached to them, then I can make more comfortable decisions around money, like going to grad school, starting an IRA, or saving up a bigger emergency cushion.”

Fiorela is optimistic about her future and feels prepared to take the steps needed to achieve her goals, which now include buying a home, a possibility that felt impossible prior to working with Elise.

“Elise helped me make a plan and put things in perspective, so I’m now able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

TrustPlus Client Stories

“After my husband passed away, I realized that I had no choice but to take the financial lead for me and my teenage daughter. I could no longer hide from my finances, so I stepped up and took control.”

Lina and her husband, both longtime residents of Washington Heights, first signed up for financial coaching in 2012 through Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union (NTFCU). With the guidance of their Financial Coach, Nathalie, her husband signed up for a credit builder loan at NTFCU to build his credit. Lina had also transitioned into working full-time and started looking into ways to improve her own credit. They were on a path to financial security, but then Lina’s husband passed away unexpectedly.

Over the following year, Lina worked closely with Nathalie, meeting every month to sort through the mountain of paperwork required to settle a life insurance claim and secure survivor benefits. It took lots of time and energy to change account owners and obtain social security benefits for her daughter. Through all of this, Lina still continued to build a savings cushion, and supported her daughter’s transition into college.

“Nathalie’s support during that particular phase was crucial for me. It was so important for me to have someone without the emotional attachment to my situation, who was able to talk me through my finances at the time. It was a really difficult time, but it was good to have a monthly conversation with my Financial Coach in an objective, focused way and discuss the tasks at hand, while still mourning.”

Once again, it felt like Lina was on a path to financial security. She was taking ownership over her family’s finances for the first time, including opening her own, new accounts. Her credit score was going up, she was using the credit cards wisely, and enjoying her new bank accounts—then COVID-19 hit.

When the pandemic shut down New York City, Lina lost her job and was only able to find part-time work for many months. She primarily survived off of her daughter’s social security benefits and unemployment insurance. With her Financial Coach’s help, she also secured a rent grant from New York State for $2,500 which provided much needed relief and enabled her to move apartments without carrying any arrears from herprevious lease.

“My Coach has been giving me time to adjust to these transitions and the pain of losing a few family members throughout the last year. I put a pause on many of my goals, but now I am settled and looking forward to picking up where I left off.” 

Because of the strong financial foundation Lina built with Neighborhood Trust and NTFCU over the last nine years, she has been able to weather the shocks of the COVID-19 crisis and the trauma of losing loved ones, while still keeping an eye on her plans for the future.

Today, Nathalie and Neighborhood Trust continue to support Lina’s financial stability, and the pursuit of her long-term goals, even through this difficult and financially-tight time. Lina has opened and maintained a 529 plan for her daughter, so she’s prepared if her daughter doesn’t get a full-ride scholarship next year, as she did this year. She has a credit builder loan through the fintech Happy Mango. And she is pursuing full-time job opportunities to get back to her previous income level. “I’m looking forward to feeling like I have my feet on solid ground again.”

“I started TrustPlus at a time when my credit was not great, I was living with a roommate, I was just dead with student loan debt, and I just saw no way out.”

Milly, a comedian and writer living in Brooklyn, says “even in my standup, I would joke ‘what’s a savings account?’ I had no idea how I could manage anything. And within a year, my credit score went up 60 points.” She found out about TrustPlus through a
community outreach effort, offering critical support and financial coaching to those in need, which reached her online community of local comedians. Milly’s family always emphasized their goal for her to graduate from college but nevertalked about the potential downsides of student loans or how the credit system works.

When her college suggested she take out $20,000 in private student loans to pay for the balance not covered by her federal loans, she had no reason to question their recommendation. Her sister, with the best intentions of supporting Milly’s college dreams, co-signed on two loans, totaling $20,000.

In the 10 years since she borrowed the original $20,000, Milly has paid $33,000 but still has a balance of $17,000. Her college’s financial aid office did not make clear to Milly that private student loans can feature high and variable interest rates, not the low- and fixed-rates characteristic of federal student loans. Her lender did not accurately assess Milly’s ability-to-repay and failed to clarify for Milly’s sister the implications of co-signing the loans.

Milly has done her best never to miss her $350 monthly payment, but over the years she was forced to make difficult decisions, prioritizing rent, utilities, and food expenses over paying her student loans. These missed payments threw her repayment schedule off
track and damaged her and her sister’s credit, which strained their relationship for several years.

Had her college offered Milly recommendations for scholarship or grant opportunities or enrolled her in a payment plan with the school directly, she might have paid off the balance years ago; she estimates that she would have saved an extra $13,000 to date.
Working with her Financial Coach, Ashley, Milly decided to make several lump-sum payments towards her private loans—and even paid one off in full—while her federal loan payments are suspended.

“Before I started coaching, [this loan] just seemed like a hopeless, insurmountable issue.”

Now she is prepared to avoid predatory loans in the future and feels empowered to tackle her debt head-on. With Ashley’s guidance, she refinanced the second loan with a lower interest rate and without her sister as a co-signer. After years of being denied a refinance loan due to her poor credit rating, it was a moment of celebration.

“Ashley has not only kept me on track and kept me moving, but also her coaching has really transformed my relationship with money.”

For the first time in her life, Milly has a savings account with enough to cover one month of expenses and a prime credit score. She moved into her own apartment without roommates in 2021, a long-time goal. With her student loans under control and her housing situation stable, Milly plans to support her family, even in small ways, without expecting to get paid back.

Another long-term goal remains unchanged: quit her day job and earn a living through comedy, writing, and acting.

“I am finally seeing the light at the end of the student loan tunnel.”

“I was stuck a year ago. Now, I’m not completely financially stable, but I’m much, much better than a year ago…and I’m in the process of buying a home.”

A few years ago, Edward started driving for Uber on the weekends to supplement his income from his full-time job as an Assistant Manager at Cornell University, where he’s worked for over 19 years. He dreamed of saving up to buy a home for his family with room for his six kids and five grandkids to come visit. He earned the required licensing and found a new car that would meet Uber’s standards—everything was headed on the right track. But, behind the scenes, Edward was struggling with credit card debt and a low credit score.

“I was maxing out my credit cards not knowing it was affecting my credit negatively. I was using the cards like an emergency savings account, paying off a certain amount so I could use that amount in credit when I needed it a week later.”

Edward’s credit wasn’t strong enough to qualify for a car loan, so he asked his son to co-sign on the loan and help him with the monthly payments. Not long after, Edward’s son lost his job and the car was repossessed. Edward had lost his additional source of and owed over $3,000 on a car he no longer had. Meanwhile, he had no one to turn to for guidance, and he didn’t trust the credit card companies or auto loan provider to give him affordable repayment options.

“The interest was killing me—I paid just the minimum for so many years because I didn’t know that would affect my credit. They had no reason to tell me that there was a way to pay less in interest. If I didn’t have those credit cards hanging over me this whole time, I could’ve had my house by now. Credit is major, it’s important to know how to use it wisely.”

Edward remembered seeing an offer for TrustPlus financial coaching in a driver’s guide pamphlet he received through the Workers Benefit Fund, a portable benefits provider for delivery car and taxi drivers. He signed up for a session with his Financial Coach, Hector, who “helped me put everything to paper and start seeing the numbers.”

Hector encouraged Edward to get out of his arrangement with a credit repair company, which had fed Edward sales pitches and lies about how they could remove the defaulted car note from his credit report in exchange for $1,000 in 10 monthly installments. They worked on a budget to balance Edward’s cash flow and to help him stop relying on credit to bridge the gap between paychecks.

With the money he saved by no longer paying exorbitant interest fees on his cards and by cancelling his installment plan with the predatory credit repair company, Edward is now able to set aside a small amount of savings each month. He is prioritizing debt payments in the short-term to eventually free up more of his paycheck for savings in the future. He also set aside his stimulus check and tax refund for the down payment, a big step towards achieving his long-term goal of owning a home.

“I tried to remain hopeful and take things day by day. When I knew Tiffany [TrustPlus Financial Coach] was gonna call, I wanted to be sure I had good news for her.”

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Nade’s income disappeared overnight, upending her small cleaning business and her personal finances.

At the time she was expecting a baby with her husband, a taxi driver, dreading what COVID-19 might mean for her and her baby’s health and what the sudden financial freefall would do to her family, business, and employees.

“Nothing was working on my side during the pandemic. I remember I cried to Tiffany one day because I was thinking about how everything was upside down all of a sudden. She followed up with all the resources she could find. She went above my expectations. When those types of people reach out to you it empowers you to not give up because you have people counting on you.”

Tiffany worked with Nade to identify resources including expanded unemployment benefits through the CARES Act and ways to free up limited cash for necessities by negotiating with her creditors to defer payments. Nade also received a $1,000 cash grant in April 2020 from Humanity Forward, which partnered with Neighborhood Trust to distribute unconditional cash relief to Bronx residents early in the pandemic.

“All of us who received the payment, it made a really positive impact on our lives. Whether you use it for rent, electricity, or groceries—it just takes the weight off our shoulders a little bit.”

Over a year later, Nade and her family are on a path to financial security. She and her husband have juggled taking care of their 13-month-old with their work schedules, and she’s getting her business back on track. She has brought on two new employees and a
few contractors, giving her more flexibility in her work schedule depending on how many contracts she takes on.

“I’ve signed a few additional contracts that are paying well. I’ve now been able to pay myself and wipe out my personal credit cards, and I’m in the process of paying off the company credit cards.”

What does she think about her rollercoaster path to financial security since the onset of the pandemic? “I want to tell Tiffany, ‘I know you worry so much about me but I’m starting to do good so you don’t have to worry about me.’”

“Elise was great at helping me understand changes in the law including the CARES Act and the expanded Child Tax Credit. She helped me get the information I needed, like tracking down one of my private loans that wasn’t on my credit report. She is a great navigator and guide.”

Allison learned of TrustPlus Financial Coaching through her job, where she delivers adult education programs to parents experiencing poverty. The financial wellness benefit offering came at a consequential moment: Allison had just been notified that her next paycheck would be garnished, nearly all of it, by the IRS; her student loans and a store credit card were in default; she was two months behind on rent and utility bills; and she was receiving calls about unpaid medical bills—all while parenting her young son as a newly single mom.

Allison has worked in the nonprofit sector her entire career. She knows it’s a job path that typically does not lead to great monetary wealth. But she didn’t think it would be this challenging to make ends meet as a professional, especially as one who used to teach workshops on budgeting and personal finance:

“It’s easier to teach than it is to apply those lessons to yourself…It’s easy to forget about financial responsibilities when your main concern is rent and getting food on the table. Everything else falls by the wayside.”

Allison’s financial journey reflects the incremental, then transformational, change that can come with guidance on how to navigate financial systems and the pitfalls that can trap people in seemingly insurmountable debt. Neither her student loan servicer nor the U.S. Department of Education made clear to Allison that she could bring her student loans out of default for free using a rehabilitation plan; her credit card collection notices omitted the fact that she could get back into good standing by arranging a more affordable payment plan.

With the support of her TrustPlus Financial Coach, Allison is now on a path to financial security she once thought impossible. She enrolled in a rehabilitation plan for her student loans, qualifying for a $0/month payment plan under the CARES Act. Her student debt is now out of default and back with the original loan servicer. Her credit score went up more than 100 points, and her credit card is now in good standing.

Elise also worked with Allison to open a Roth IRA, designated for the future education of her son.

“I still have a million things to do, but I feel like I’m taking back control so I can work on bigger goals for the future.”

“I recently went to a 401k seminar at work but I wasn’t connecting, I couldn’t understand what I should do. Financial coaching definitely helped me take advantage of things like my 401k.”

Fiorela worked with Elise, her Financial Coach, to navigate retirement offerings through her employer, the National Association of Drug Abuse Problems. They also worked together to create a plan to pay off the credit card debt Fiorela accrued after college while working her first job in human services.

“I had only $40 of discretionary income to actually live my life after paying for the necessities.”

Growing up, Fiorela’s family didn’t talk much about money. In Peru, Fiorela lived a middle-class life with her grandparents until age nine when she moved to New Jersey to be with her parents. Her mom had just graduated college and her dad was working odd jobs to support the household. Fiorela still thinks about the challenges of transitioning from having financial security to navigating financial insecurity, while also adjusting to life in the U.S.

When she finishes paying down her debt, Fiorela wants to get a dual masters in social work and public policy because “in this country our systems—including healthcare, education and criminal justice—are limiting and counterproductive. A lot of things just don’t add up. But the combination of undergrad student loans, $20,000 in credit cards, and a fear of taking on even more student debt are strong deterrents from going to grad school.”

Financial coaching, Fiorela notes, offers a sense of empowerment as she charts her next steps:

“When I’m at a place where I’m managing my finances in a conscious, secure way, and I have positive emotions attached to them, then I can make more comfortable decisions around money, like going to grad school, starting an IRA, or saving up a bigger emergency cushion.”

Fiorela is optimistic about her future and feels prepared to take the steps needed to achieve her goals, which now include buying a home, a possibility that felt impossible prior to working with Elise.

“Elise helped me make a plan and put things in perspective, so I’m now able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

TrustPlus Client Stories

“After my husband passed away, I realized that I had no choice but to take the financial lead for me and my teenage daughter. I could no longer hide from my finances, so I stepped up and took control.”

Lina and her husband, both longtime residents of Washington Heights, first signed up for financial coaching in 2012 through Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union (NTFCU). With the guidance of their Financial Coach, Nathalie, her husband signed up for a credit builder loan at NTFCU to build his credit. Lina had also transitioned into working full-time and started looking into ways to improve her own credit. They were on a path to financial security, but then Lina’s husband passed away unexpectedly.

Over the following year, Lina worked closely with Nathalie, meeting every month to sort through the mountain of paperwork required to settle a life insurance claim and secure survivor benefits. It took lots of time and energy to change account owners and obtain social security benefits for her daughter. Through all of this, Lina still continued to build a savings cushion, and supported her daughter’s transition into college.

“Nathalie’s support during that particular phase was crucial for me. It was so important for me to have someone without the emotional attachment to my situation, who was able to talk me through my finances at the time. It was a really difficult time, but it was good to have a monthly conversation with my Financial Coach in an objective, focused way and discuss the tasks at hand, while still mourning.”

Once again, it felt like Lina was on a path to financial security. She was taking ownership over her family’s finances for the first time, including opening her own, new accounts. Her credit score was going up, she was using the credit cards wisely, and enjoying her new bank accounts—then COVID-19 hit.

When the pandemic shut down New York City, Lina lost her job and was only able to find part-time work for many months. She primarily survived off of her daughter’s social security benefits and unemployment insurance. With her Financial Coach’s help, she also secured a rent grant from New York State for $2,500 which provided much needed relief and enabled her to move apartments without carrying any arrears from herprevious lease.

“My Coach has been giving me time to adjust to these transitions and the pain of losing a few family members throughout the last year. I put a pause on many of my goals, but now I am settled and looking forward to picking up where I left off.” 

Because of the strong financial foundation Lina built with Neighborhood Trust and NTFCU over the last nine years, she has been able to weather the shocks of the COVID-19 crisis and the trauma of losing loved ones, while still keeping an eye on her plans for the future.

Today, Nathalie and Neighborhood Trust continue to support Lina’s financial stability, and the pursuit of her long-term goals, even through this difficult and financially-tight time. Lina has opened and maintained a 529 plan for her daughter, so she’s prepared if her daughter doesn’t get a full-ride scholarship next year, as she did this year. She has a credit builder loan through the fintech Happy Mango. And she is pursuing full-time job opportunities to get back to her previous income level. “I’m looking forward to feeling like I have my feet on solid ground again.”

“I started TrustPlus at a time when my credit was not great, I was living with a roommate, I was just dead with student loan debt, and I just saw no way out.”

Milly, a comedian and writer living in Brooklyn, says “even in my standup, I would joke ‘what’s a savings account?’ I had no idea how I could manage anything. And within a year, my credit score went up 60 points.” She found out about TrustPlus through a
community outreach effort, offering critical support and financial coaching to those in need, which reached her online community of local comedians. Milly’s family always emphasized their goal for her to graduate from college but nevertalked about the potential downsides of student loans or how the credit system works.

When her college suggested she take out $20,000 in private student loans to pay for the balance not covered by her federal loans, she had no reason to question their recommendation. Her sister, with the best intentions of supporting Milly’s college dreams, co-signed on two loans, totaling $20,000.

In the 10 years since she borrowed the original $20,000, Milly has paid $33,000 but still has a balance of $17,000. Her college’s financial aid office did not make clear to Milly that private student loans can feature high and variable interest rates, not the low- and fixed-rates characteristic of federal student loans. Her lender did not accurately assess Milly’s ability-to-repay and failed to clarify for Milly’s sister the implications of co-signing the loans.

Milly has done her best never to miss her $350 monthly payment, but over the years she was forced to make difficult decisions, prioritizing rent, utilities, and food expenses over paying her student loans. These missed payments threw her repayment schedule off
track and damaged her and her sister’s credit, which strained their relationship for several years.

Had her college offered Milly recommendations for scholarship or grant opportunities or enrolled her in a payment plan with the school directly, she might have paid off the balance years ago; she estimates that she would have saved an extra $13,000 to date.
Working with her Financial Coach, Ashley, Milly decided to make several lump-sum payments towards her private loans—and even paid one off in full—while her federal loan payments are suspended.

“Before I started coaching, [this loan] just seemed like a hopeless, insurmountable issue.”

Now she is prepared to avoid predatory loans in the future and feels empowered to tackle her debt head-on. With Ashley’s guidance, she refinanced the second loan with a lower interest rate and without her sister as a co-signer. After years of being denied a refinance loan due to her poor credit rating, it was a moment of celebration.

“Ashley has not only kept me on track and kept me moving, but also her coaching has really transformed my relationship with money.”

For the first time in her life, Milly has a savings account with enough to cover one month of expenses and a prime credit score. She moved into her own apartment without roommates in 2021, a long-time goal. With her student loans under control and her housing situation stable, Milly plans to support her family, even in small ways, without expecting to get paid back.

Another long-term goal remains unchanged: quit her day job and earn a living through comedy, writing, and acting.

“I am finally seeing the light at the end of the student loan tunnel.”

“I was stuck a year ago. Now, I’m not completely financially stable, but I’m much, much better than a year ago…and I’m in the process of buying a home.”

A few years ago, Edward started driving for Uber on the weekends to supplement his income from his full-time job as an Assistant Manager at Cornell University, where he’s worked for over 19 years. He dreamed of saving up to buy a home for his family with room for his six kids and five grandkids to come visit. He earned the required licensing and found a new car that would meet Uber’s standards—everything was headed on the right track. But, behind the scenes, Edward was struggling with credit card debt and a low credit score.

“I was maxing out my credit cards not knowing it was affecting my credit negatively. I was using the cards like an emergency savings account, paying off a certain amount so I could use that amount in credit when I needed it a week later.”

Edward’s credit wasn’t strong enough to qualify for a car loan, so he asked his son to co-sign on the loan and help him with the monthly payments. Not long after, Edward’s son lost his job and the car was repossessed. Edward had lost his additional source of and owed over $3,000 on a car he no longer had. Meanwhile, he had no one to turn to for guidance, and he didn’t trust the credit card companies or auto loan provider to give him affordable repayment options.

“The interest was killing me—I paid just the minimum for so many years because I didn’t know that would affect my credit. They had no reason to tell me that there was a way to pay less in interest. If I didn’t have those credit cards hanging over me this whole time, I could’ve had my house by now. Credit is major, it’s important to know how to use it wisely.”

Edward remembered seeing an offer for TrustPlus financial coaching in a driver’s guide pamphlet he received through the Workers Benefit Fund, a portable benefits provider for delivery car and taxi drivers. He signed up for a session with his Financial Coach, Hector, who “helped me put everything to paper and start seeing the numbers.”

Hector encouraged Edward to get out of his arrangement with a credit repair company, which had fed Edward sales pitches and lies about how they could remove the defaulted car note from his credit report in exchange for $1,000 in 10 monthly installments. They worked on a budget to balance Edward’s cash flow and to help him stop relying on credit to bridge the gap between paychecks.

With the money he saved by no longer paying exorbitant interest fees on his cards and by cancelling his installment plan with the predatory credit repair company, Edward is now able to set aside a small amount of savings each month. He is prioritizing debt payments in the short-term to eventually free up more of his paycheck for savings in the future. He also set aside his stimulus check and tax refund for the down payment, a big step towards achieving his long-term goal of owning a home.

“I tried to remain hopeful and take things day by day. When I knew Tiffany [TrustPlus Financial Coach] was gonna call, I wanted to be sure I had good news for her.”

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Nade’s income disappeared overnight, upending her small cleaning business and her personal finances.

At the time she was expecting a baby with her husband, a taxi driver, dreading what COVID-19 might mean for her and her baby’s health and what the sudden financial freefall would do to her family, business, and employees.

“Nothing was working on my side during the pandemic. I remember I cried to Tiffany one day because I was thinking about how everything was upside down all of a sudden. She followed up with all the resources she could find. She went above my expectations. When those types of people reach out to you it empowers you to not give up because you have people counting on you.”

Tiffany worked with Nade to identify resources including expanded unemployment benefits through the CARES Act and ways to free up limited cash for necessities by negotiating with her creditors to defer payments. Nade also received a $1,000 cash grant in April 2020 from Humanity Forward, which partnered with Neighborhood Trust to distribute unconditional cash relief to Bronx residents early in the pandemic.

“All of us who received the payment, it made a really positive impact on our lives. Whether you use it for rent, electricity, or groceries—it just takes the weight off our shoulders a little bit.”

Over a year later, Nade and her family are on a path to financial security. She and her husband have juggled taking care of their 13-month-old with their work schedules, and she’s getting her business back on track. She has brought on two new employees and a
few contractors, giving her more flexibility in her work schedule depending on how many contracts she takes on.

“I’ve signed a few additional contracts that are paying well. I’ve now been able to pay myself and wipe out my personal credit cards, and I’m in the process of paying off the company credit cards.”

What does she think about her rollercoaster path to financial security since the onset of the pandemic? “I want to tell Tiffany, ‘I know you worry so much about me but I’m starting to do good so you don’t have to worry about me.’”

“Elise was great at helping me understand changes in the law including the CARES Act and the expanded Child Tax Credit. She helped me get the information I needed, like tracking down one of my private loans that wasn’t on my credit report. She is a great navigator and guide.”

Allison learned of TrustPlus Financial Coaching through her job, where she delivers adult education programs to parents experiencing poverty. The financial wellness benefit offering came at a consequential moment: Allison had just been notified that her next paycheck would be garnished, nearly all of it, by the IRS; her student loans and a store credit card were in default; she was two months behind on rent and utility bills; and she was receiving calls about unpaid medical bills—all while parenting her young son as a newly single mom.

Allison has worked in the nonprofit sector her entire career. She knows it’s a job path that typically does not lead to great monetary wealth. But she didn’t think it would be this challenging to make ends meet as a professional, especially as one who used to teach workshops on budgeting and personal finance:

“It’s easier to teach than it is to apply those lessons to yourself…It’s easy to forget about financial responsibilities when your main concern is rent and getting food on the table. Everything else falls by the wayside.”

Allison’s financial journey reflects the incremental, then transformational, change that can come with guidance on how to navigate financial systems and the pitfalls that can trap people in seemingly insurmountable debt. Neither her student loan servicer nor the U.S. Department of Education made clear to Allison that she could bring her student loans out of default for free using a rehabilitation plan; her credit card collection notices omitted the fact that she could get back into good standing by arranging a more affordable payment plan.

With the support of her TrustPlus Financial Coach, Allison is now on a path to financial security she once thought impossible. She enrolled in a rehabilitation plan for her student loans, qualifying for a $0/month payment plan under the CARES Act. Her student debt is now out of default and back with the original loan servicer. Her credit score went up more than 100 points, and her credit card is now in good standing.

Elise also worked with Allison to open a Roth IRA, designated for the future education of her son.

“I still have a million things to do, but I feel like I’m taking back control so I can work on bigger goals for the future.”

“I recently went to a 401k seminar at work but I wasn’t connecting, I couldn’t understand what I should do. Financial coaching definitely helped me take advantage of things like my 401k.”

Fiorela worked with Elise, her Financial Coach, to navigate retirement offerings through her employer, the National Association of Drug Abuse Problems. They also worked together to create a plan to pay off the credit card debt Fiorela accrued after college while working her first job in human services.

“I had only $40 of discretionary income to actually live my life after paying for the necessities.”

Growing up, Fiorela’s family didn’t talk much about money. In Peru, Fiorela lived a middle-class life with her grandparents until age nine when she moved to New Jersey to be with her parents. Her mom had just graduated college and her dad was working odd jobs to support the household. Fiorela still thinks about the challenges of transitioning from having financial security to navigating financial insecurity, while also adjusting to life in the U.S.

When she finishes paying down her debt, Fiorela wants to get a dual masters in social work and public policy because “in this country our systems—including healthcare, education and criminal justice—are limiting and counterproductive. A lot of things just don’t add up. But the combination of undergrad student loans, $20,000 in credit cards, and a fear of taking on even more student debt are strong deterrents from going to grad school.”

Financial coaching, Fiorela notes, offers a sense of empowerment as she charts her next steps:

“When I’m at a place where I’m managing my finances in a conscious, secure way, and I have positive emotions attached to them, then I can make more comfortable decisions around money, like going to grad school, starting an IRA, or saving up a bigger emergency cushion.”

Fiorela is optimistic about her future and feels prepared to take the steps needed to achieve her goals, which now include buying a home, a possibility that felt impossible prior to working with Elise.

“Elise helped me make a plan and put things in perspective, so I’m now able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Neighborhood Trust Customer Stories

“Data from Pathways became quite useful in our advocacy efforts in New Mexico, a historic win against predatory debt,” says Diane Sandoval-Griego, Chief of Financial Empowerment, Guadalupe Credit Union.

We spoke with Guadalupe Credit Union’s Chief of Financial Empowerment Diane Sandoval-Griego about their recent advocacy win and Pathways to Financial Empowerment’s impact on their work. Our below Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

Who are you and what do you do?

We are a community development financial institution that’s been serving the Northern New Mexico community for over 70 years. We serve mostly low-income populations, but we have a variety of members from rural communities to more populated areas. We strive to bring financial empowerment to the communities we serve, to make sure that people have choices and that they’re aware of those choices.

What happened?

In March 2022, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 132, reforming predatory lending practices by lowering the cap on small loan interest rates from 175% to 36%. The data we pulled and utilized from Pathways became quite useful in our advocacy efforts on which we’ve been working tirelessly for many years. We are proud of this achievement-—this is a HUGE accomplishment for New Mexico and Guadalupe Credit Union. Pathways helped us help our community with this historic win against wealth-stripping predatory lenders.

What is Pathways?

Pathways to Financial Empowerment is the coaching methodology and the software we use for financial coaching and tracking outcomes. Pathways has been helpful in keeping our members in good standing, progressing on their goals, and in harnessing data to show that credit unions are a great option for consumers. It helps us show that credit scores can move up with financial coaching.

How would you describe Pathways’ impact on your organization?

On three levels, the individual, institutional, and market.

Pathways makes our financial coaching more effective in helping individuals. It enables us to keep an open line of communication, show members progress with action steps, and demonstrate ongoing support. We’re able to communicate with members through text messaging templates; we appreciate the Spanish versions, especially.

On the institutional level, Pathways helped me be a better manager. I was able to coach my employees more effectively, identify trends in our membership, such as predatory lending and credit scores, and explore product recommendations for certain members.

Our coaches then did a lot more peer-to-peer learning about the options that people have, because we had this one-stop shop of financial approaches from fellow coaches and their clients.

One example was student loan debt. Pathways enabled us to look at credit reports with each other to see how this member paid off his student loan debt. Since then, all of the coaches seem to have done better with that topic overall. As a manager, I am grateful that Pathways enables me to manage my employees on a more factual basis without having to do extra research. It has also helped with grant reporting and providing evidence to our board and our lending department about what I would like to see as possible alternatives or solutions we can introduce to members.

At the market level, Pathways helped us harness data for advocacy to change the rules of the game, to cap small loan interest at 36% statewide. It was a historic win, and we’re not done yet.


A partnership between Neighborhood Trust and credit union advocacy network Inclusiv, Pathways to Financial Empowerment (Pathways) integrates financial coaching into credit unions nationwide. Pathways trains credit union staff to provide our model of trusted, action-oriented financial coaching to its members and to track data and results via our proprietary technology platform. This ensures that clients are better connected to credit union products that can help them achieve their goals, improving members’ financial health, generating a loyal member base and supporting credit union operations. Since the program’s inception in 2015 Pathways has reached nearly 4,500 credit union members, reducing a cumulative $2 million in consumer debt and $500,000 in collections accounts. Today Pathways spans 20 credit unions in 14 states.

Neighborhood Trust Customer Stories

“Data from Pathways became quite useful in our advocacy efforts in New Mexico, a historic win against predatory debt,” says Diane Sandoval-Griego, Chief of Financial Empowerment, Guadalupe Credit Union.

We spoke with Guadalupe Credit Union’s Chief of Financial Empowerment Diane Sandoval-Griego about their recent advocacy win and Pathways to Financial Empowerment’s impact on their work. Our below Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

Who are you and what do you do?

We are a community development financial institution that’s been serving the Northern New Mexico community for over 70 years. We serve mostly low-income populations, but we have a variety of members from rural communities to more populated areas. We strive to bring financial empowerment to the communities we serve, to make sure that people have choices and that they’re aware of those choices.

What happened?

In March 2022, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 132, reforming predatory lending practices by lowering the cap on small loan interest rates from 175% to 36%. The data we pulled and utilized from Pathways became quite useful in our advocacy efforts on which we’ve been working tirelessly for many years. We are proud of this achievement-—this is a HUGE accomplishment for New Mexico and Guadalupe Credit Union. Pathways helped us help our community with this historic win against wealth-stripping predatory lenders.

What is Pathways?

Pathways to Financial Empowerment is the coaching methodology and the software we use for financial coaching and tracking outcomes. Pathways has been helpful in keeping our members in good standing, progressing on their goals, and in harnessing data to show that credit unions are a great option for consumers. It helps us show that credit scores can move up with financial coaching.

How would you describe Pathways’ impact on your organization?

On three levels, the individual, institutional, and market.

Pathways makes our financial coaching more effective in helping individuals. It enables us to keep an open line of communication, show members progress with action steps, and demonstrate ongoing support. We’re able to communicate with members through text messaging templates; we appreciate the Spanish versions, especially.

On the institutional level, Pathways helped me be a better manager. I was able to coach my employees more effectively, identify trends in our membership, such as predatory lending and credit scores, and explore product recommendations for certain members.

Our coaches then did a lot more peer-to-peer learning about the options that people have, because we had this one-stop shop of financial approaches from fellow coaches and their clients.

One example was student loan debt. Pathways enabled us to look at credit reports with each other to see how this member paid off his student loan debt. Since then, all of the coaches seem to have done better with that topic overall. As a manager, I am grateful that Pathways enables me to manage my employees on a more factual basis without having to do extra research. It has also helped with grant reporting and providing evidence to our board and our lending department about what I would like to see as possible alternatives or solutions we can introduce to members.

At the market level, Pathways helped us harness data for advocacy to change the rules of the game, to cap small loan interest at 36% statewide. It was a historic win, and we’re not done yet.


A partnership between Neighborhood Trust and credit union advocacy network Inclusiv, Pathways to Financial Empowerment (Pathways) integrates financial coaching into credit unions nationwide. Pathways trains credit union staff to provide our model of trusted, action-oriented financial coaching to its members and to track data and results via our proprietary technology platform. This ensures that clients are better connected to credit union products that can help them achieve their goals, improving members’ financial health, generating a loyal member base and supporting credit union operations. Since the program’s inception in 2015 Pathways has reached nearly 4,500 credit union members, reducing a cumulative $2 million in consumer debt and $500,000 in collections accounts. Today Pathways spans 20 credit unions in 14 states.

Neighborhood Trust Customer Stories

“Data from Pathways became quite useful in our advocacy efforts in New Mexico, a historic win against predatory debt,” says Diane Sandoval-Griego, Chief of Financial Empowerment, Guadalupe Credit Union.

We spoke with Guadalupe Credit Union’s Chief of Financial Empowerment Diane Sandoval-Griego about their recent advocacy win and Pathways to Financial Empowerment’s impact on their work. Our below Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

Who are you and what do you do?

We are a community development financial institution that’s been serving the Northern New Mexico community for over 70 years. We serve mostly low-income populations, but we have a variety of members from rural communities to more populated areas. We strive to bring financial empowerment to the communities we serve, to make sure that people have choices and that they’re aware of those choices.

What happened?

In March 2022, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 132, reforming predatory lending practices by lowering the cap on small loan interest rates from 175% to 36%. The data we pulled and utilized from Pathways became quite useful in our advocacy efforts on which we’ve been working tirelessly for many years. We are proud of this achievement-—this is a HUGE accomplishment for New Mexico and Guadalupe Credit Union. Pathways helped us help our community with this historic win against wealth-stripping predatory lenders.

What is Pathways?

Pathways to Financial Empowerment is the coaching methodology and the software we use for financial coaching and tracking outcomes. Pathways has been helpful in keeping our members in good standing, progressing on their goals, and in harnessing data to show that credit unions are a great option for consumers. It helps us show that credit scores can move up with financial coaching.

How would you describe Pathways’ impact on your organization?

On three levels, the individual, institutional, and market.

Pathways makes our financial coaching more effective in helping individuals. It enables us to keep an open line of communication, show members progress with action steps, and demonstrate ongoing support. We’re able to communicate with members through text messaging templates; we appreciate the Spanish versions, especially.

On the institutional level, Pathways helped me be a better manager. I was able to coach my employees more effectively, identify trends in our membership, such as predatory lending and credit scores, and explore product recommendations for certain members.

Our coaches then did a lot more peer-to-peer learning about the options that people have, because we had this one-stop shop of financial approaches from fellow coaches and their clients.

One example was student loan debt. Pathways enabled us to look at credit reports with each other to see how this member paid off his student loan debt. Since then, all of the coaches seem to have done better with that topic overall. As a manager, I am grateful that Pathways enables me to manage my employees on a more factual basis without having to do extra research. It has also helped with grant reporting and providing evidence to our board and our lending department about what I would like to see as possible alternatives or solutions we can introduce to members.

At the market level, Pathways helped us harness data for advocacy to change the rules of the game, to cap small loan interest at 36% statewide. It was a historic win, and we’re not done yet.


A partnership between Neighborhood Trust and credit union advocacy network Inclusiv, Pathways to Financial Empowerment (Pathways) integrates financial coaching into credit unions nationwide. Pathways trains credit union staff to provide our model of trusted, action-oriented financial coaching to its members and to track data and results via our proprietary technology platform. This ensures that clients are better connected to credit union products that can help them achieve their goals, improving members’ financial health, generating a loyal member base and supporting credit union operations. Since the program’s inception in 2015 Pathways has reached nearly 4,500 credit union members, reducing a cumulative $2 million in consumer debt and $500,000 in collections accounts. Today Pathways spans 20 credit unions in 14 states.