April 10, 2023
Eva Song Margolis
Eva Song Margolis (EFC photo)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Feb. 16, 2016) — In December 2015, the Eastside Financial Center (EFC) was awarded a $150,000 Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The EFC was one among 33 organizations across the country awarded a LISC SIF grant to implement the Bridges to Career Opportunities (BCO) program, a career pathways program connecting job seekers with education and training opportunities towards career advancement. Beginning February 1, 2016, the EFC in partnership with Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota, Merrick Community Services, and the Ronald M. Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning (Hubbs Center) will begin implementing year one programming of this three year grant.

Since its doors opened in 2008, the EFC has provided an integrated service delivery model, a career and personal financial service program that coaches low-income individuals along their financial, and career and academic paths through a financial lens. LISC has been a major supporter of the integrated services delivery model and in 2013, with support from local Twin Cities LISC, the EFC added an occupational skills training initiative with a healthcare industry focus coupled with the Center’s integrated services. In 2014, the EFC offered another round of the healthcare careers pathway again with LISC’s continued support.

“The EFC developed a healthcare careers pathway with the goal of moving entry-level employees in the healthcare sector into advanced positions as well as inviting those with no experience in the field. Partners Goodwill-Easter Seals provided the career coaching and the Hubbs Center was later added as a partner along with various technical skills trainers and post-secondary institutions,” explained Eva Song Margolis, EFC Program Director.

Bridges to Career Opportunities will build upon the Center’s occupational skills initiatives work, but with program enhancements. In addition to the “direct care” focus of its healthcare career pathways, the EFC will also be branching out with a medical office pathway. A new addition to the program will be expansion into the construction sector through partnership with Merrick Community Services and the Hubbs Center. The new bridge construction pathway will range from introductory classes through the Hubbs Center moving participants into entry-level driver positions to specific credentialing opportunities through Merrick Community Services for advanced positions within the construction field. All pathways will continue to also receive the integrated financial and employment coaching services.

Margolis added, “Community collaboration is familiar territory for the EFC, and we are pleased to continue to build relationships and partner in new ways with other organizations committed to bettering the lives of Eastsiders. It is our hope that our services with an increased focus on employment, education, and opportunities for advancement will not only address the disparities in opportunity, income, and wealth in the communities we serve, but also help with creating a ripple effect with regard to increasing the general economic prosperity of the Eastside. Our partners provide key educational and employment roles to help people move a long a chosen continuum towards their financial and life goals for themselves and their families.”

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with LSS and provide career coaching and workforce development services at the EFC. BCO is a great opportunity for connection: among job seekers, educational institutions, and employers, as well as among organizations like Goodwill-Easter Seals of Minnesota, the EFC LSS, the Hubbs Center, and Merrick Community Services,” commented Jim Durdle, Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota’s Associate Director of Workforce Development.

“It is exciting to partner with other agencies in a very focused and intentional manner, which brings value added benefit to the individuals we are privileged to serve. Merrick and the EFC both provide employment services in the same building, so we look forward to streamlining the process of referrals of program participants among and between each other. This collaborative effort will also provide more options for those who walk through our doors. That is a good thing,” said Daniel A. Rodriguez, Merrick Community Service’s Executive Director

“This is a great opportunity to align agencies, services, and community resources towards a common goal. It is wonderful to see Adult Basic Education, contextualized learning, and credentialing connect with career coaching and financial education which will boost the potential for obtaining meaningful employment,” commented Karen Gerdin, Assistant Supervisor at the Hubbs Center.

The Eastside Financial Center, a program of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, is a unique community-based center the offers families and individuals the opportunity to create and building financial assets through a combination of innovative services. Its services empower people to build assets, protect themselves from predatory practices, and create a strengthened and equitable community. The EFC offers financial counseling, career coaching, screening for public benefits programs, banking and financial products, free tax preparation services, and customized matched savings programming. 


Goodwill-Easter Seals provides employment and support services throughout the state, assisting individuals who face barriers to self-sufficiency. GES maintains a strong belief in the transformative power of work to change individuals, families and communities. GES provides services to individuals who have any number of barriers that prevent them from achieving their goals.


Working in partnership with Saint Paul’s East Metro since 1908, Merrick Community Services offers programs including Employment Services, Family Programs, Food Shelf/Emergency Services – Food Distribution, Senior Services, and Youth Services. Merrick Community Services provide essential core services to nearly 15,000 individuals. The mission of Merrick Community Services is to improve the lives of the residents of the East Side of St. Paul by empowering individuals, strengthening families, and promoting their independence. 


The Ronald M. Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning (Adult Basic Education) is a program of the Saint Paul Public Schools’ Community Education Department.  Educational services are available to adults who want to improve their basic skills, earn a GED, prepare for employment or post-secondary education, or learn English. The Hubbs Center is also a partner in the Saint Paul Community Literacy Consortium, a collaboration of agencies throughout Saint Paul that provide literacy services to adults in our community.

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation is the largest organization in the country supporting projects to revitalize communities. LISC works through 31 local offices and rural programs touching nearly 1,400 counties, working with a vast network of community-based partner organizations to make investments in housing, businesses, jobs, education, safety and health. LISC provides the capital, strategy and know-how to local groups to get this done. As a result, more than five million Americans live in stronger, thriving communities.

The Social Innovation Fund is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service. SIF is a powerful approach to transforming lives and communities that positions the federal government to be a catalyst for impact—mobilizing private resources to find and grow community solutions with evidence of results. Authorized by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in April of 2009, the Social Innovation Fund is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service that empowers organizations to identify and support sustainable solutions that are already making a significant impact in transforming communities. With the simple but vital goal of finding what works, and making it work for more people, the Social Innovation Fund and its’ grantees create a learning network of organizations working to implement innovative and effective evidence-based solutions to local and national challenges in three priority areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *