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Learn about HERO

HERO, or Community Development Certified Financial Counseling if you'd like to call it by its full name, was developed for organizations serving working-class populations, including cooperatives, government agencies, CDFIs, and credit unions. It is also an effective way for mainstream financial institutions and loan funds to better serve consumers when they face difficult times.

 

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HERO provides training, testing and certification that allows your staff to:

  • Better serve consumers;

  • Safely increase lending beyond A and B borrowers, driving up ROA and profitability and;

  • Cultivate effective partnerships with cooperatives and community organizations also trained with HERO in order to achieve broader community revitalization.

While other financial counseling programs focus extensively on investments and asset building, HERO focuses on lending to people that need loans. HERO allows financial institutions to “invent” their own qualified borrowers by coaching consumers to become credit-worthy.

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HERO's training and tools are always relevant and never out of date, because they are not sold as workbooks. The training is an online curriculum with testing protocols and security equivalent to a proctored exam. New tools are continually added, as predatory lenders are always updating their practices to find ways around changing regulations.

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Organizations applying for grants, including CDFI Fund awards, benefit from these online tools with results tracking, which is essential to writing a winning CDFI grant application. It’s also a benefit to management—helping to identify new lending opportunities.

HERO Modules

HERO Counseling is an interactive, web-based staff training, testing and certification tool. The objective of the program is to train your consumer-facing staff on the very best techniques for identifying financial distress, intervening and coaching low and moderate income individuals and families.

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The Curriculum
  • Topics for Financial Counselors

  • Deposit Products

  • Budgeting & Money Management

  • Managing Credit/Debt

  • Credit Cards

  • Buying/Leasing an Automobile

  • Home Ownership

  • Predatory Lending

  • Fraud and Financial Crimes
     

Staff complete each module at their own pace, but must pass a knowledge-based test after each module before moving to the next section. Once completed, each module is accessible to staff as a resource.

The program's user-friendly interface is available to organizations on a subscription basis. Staff completing all nine program modules and successfully passing the knowledge-based test following each module are certified as Community Development Financial Counselors.

 
 

Benefits

Credible, Well-Trained Staff.

Through certification, your staff will be prepared to counsel low and moderate income people on how to improve their financial well-being.

 

Mitigation of Lending Risk.

Staff will be trained to detect financial stress early, which can prevent losses to lenders and keep consumers out of the cycle of predatory lending. The identification and refinancing of high interest rate loans from predatory providers can change lives and create qualified borrowers.

 

Loyalty.

Providing counseling when it’s needed most creates long-term loyalty with measurable impacts that go beyond a balance sheet.

 

Fresh, Updated Materials.

HERO is available to your staff online, which means it can be promptly updated to reflect new information.

 

Easily Accessible Tools.

HERO Counseling provides more than just training, testing and certification. It’s a toolbox that contains worksheets and calculators your staff can use during the coaching process.

 

Tracking.

Organizations interested in applying for grant funds know that tracking outcome success is key to a successful grant application. The easy-to-use administration tools give you the power and data to track how many consumers are receiving specific types of counseling—data that can be used to secure annual grants of up to $1 million from the Treasury’s CDFI Fund.

HERO Counseling is easily administered, and readily accessible to staff—at work or at home—even on a phone, should the need arise!