Economic Empowerment

Section Topics

Family Success Center

Far too many individuals and families are living in poverty or on the financial brink, unable to keep up with their basic needs, much less having the ability to save for life’s unpredictable emergencies and future plans. Often, one or two missteps or unanticipated obstacles can derail a family’s financial future.

Empowering individuals and families with the tools they need to take control of their financial future is a fundamental focus of Catholic Charities’ Family Success Center. Seeing our clients as partners, Catholic Charities provides a variety of critical resources to our families as they journey toward financial success: emergency financial and resource assistance, tailored financial education, credit repair, coaching, and savings programs.


To begin, our group financial classes teach you how to be prepared for unexpected life events. Once you’ve mastered the information in the classes, we then shift to a one-on-one coaching format, providing concrete information and next steps for you to move forward in your financial goals. The goal is to empower you to achieve and maintain a healthy financial perspective and lifestyle.

Working with the Family Success Center is easy to fit into your daily life. Your first step is to sign up for our financial classes and learn about saving, money attitudes, budgeting, and debt. More advanced classes teach you about credit repair, asset building, and more.

Once you’ve completed our classes, you can move on to our one-on-one coaching program. Your coach will work with you to develop a personal budget, so you can get started achieving your financial goals.

Lastly, depending upon your goals, you may qualify for additional asset-building opportunities such as the Individual Development Account (IDA) program.

Financial Education

Catholic Charities provides Financial Education classes in English and Spanish language, covering topics such as:

  • Why Save?
  • How to Start Saving
  • What Goes into Your Money Making Decisions
  • Identifying your Income and Expenses
  • Tracking your Expenses
  • How to Budget
  • Accessing your Debt
  • Planning to Pay Down Debt

Catholic Charities uses a variety of delivery methods in our workshops including video, worksheets, hands-on budgeting, and interactive games. These workshops are five hours in duration and are held during the week on an as-needed basis for our emergency services clients.  We also provide the same workshop on the first Saturday of the month for clients of the agency, community members, and for those interested in our Individual Development Account (IDA) program.

Specialized Education

For refugee clients recently resettled to Oregon, Catholic Charities offers a comprehensive cultural orientation series of workshops. As a part of this orientation, financial education staff provides a focused series on topics covering United States currency, check writing, making change, differences between banks and credit unions, credit and debit cards, and basic budgeting. We utilize an interpretation service for these monthly workshops.

Survivors of Domestic Violence
For clients who identify as survivors of domestic violence, Catholic Charities provides a safe space to talk about money. Often, economic abuse has hindered a survivor’s ability to bounce back financially.  We use the basis of monthly workshops as a spring-board for discussion, modifying worksheets and activities to the needs of the clients. Workshops are held on a quarterly basis in correlation with survivors’ support group meetings.

Women Experiencing Homelessness
For clients enrolled in Catholic Charities’ homeless women’s program, we provide two hour budgeting workshops tailored for individuals living on the street. Once these clients are in permanent housing, staff members work with them to create household budgets with a focus on life as a resident. Additional personal coaching is provided as the individual stabilizes in their new surroundings.

Financial Coaching

Catholic Charities is proud to offer one-on-one financial coaching to clients who participate in the Family Success Center.

  • Financial coaching is a free service of the Family Success Center
  • A financial coach supports the client in reaching their goals
  • The coach acts as a trainer
  • The coach provides accountability and encouragement

Coaches meet with interested participants 1-2 hours per month for at least 3 months to provide support in identifying and pursuing financial goals. Specifically, they can assist in developing a budget plan, creating and following plans to pay down debt, and support in ways to save for the short- and long-term.

Individual Development Accounts

Here at the Family Success Center we’re focused on your financial success. We’ve developed a creative Individual Development Account (IDA) program that provides a matched savings account to qualified individuals that have graduated from our coaching program.

If you’ve been through our coaching program and would like to save money for college, to start a business, or buy a house for the first time, we’d like to match your savings within certain limits. Contact us and let’s talk about your financial future.

Providence Helping Hands Fund

The Helping Hands Fund is available to Providence Oregon Region employees with at least one year of employment who are facing a financial emergency. The fund is administered by Catholic Charities and is funded entirely by Providence employees. The program combines financial assistance with financial education, empowering each participant to succeed.

Providence employees who qualify for help from the fund will be asked to participate in a free financial wellness class, which uses curriculum from financial consultant, Dave Ramsey. Each qualifying Providence employee may use the fund one time only so we can reach as many employees as possible who may need help.

Eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Be a Providence employee for at least one year.
  • Face sudden loss of income due to serious illness, death, disaster to home (fire, flood, etc.), emergency housing issue (change in living arrangements, eviction, etc.), unpaid child support, etc.
  • Face family crisis due to traumatic incident, prolonged illness, separation and/or divorce, loss of job, etc.

How To Apply

Click on the Helping Hands Application Form and save the application to your computer. Then, fill out the application and save it to your computer once more (title it with your last name), attach it to an email, and send to

Applications are also accepted by mail or fax.

Mail to:
Catholic Charities
Family Success Center — Helping Hands Fund
2740 SE Powell Blvd., #5
Portland, OR 97202

Fax to:
503-238-4716 (fax)

After submitting the Helping Hands Fund application form, you may call our toll free number 1-866-996-0334 to discuss your situation. Someone will be in touch with you within 48 business hours of receipt of your application.

Molly O'Donnell | Director, Family Success Center

Molly O’Donnell is a native Oregonian who earned her Bachelor’s Degree in History from Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia.  She worked in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill for many years, travelling to Central America on medical supply missions and with congressional delegations. She developed Catholic Charities’ financial wellness services which is foundational to the asset building strategies of the Family Success Center.  O’Donnell continues to create opportunities for individuals and families to permanently improve their financial situations and achieve long-term prosperity. She has been employed with the agency since 2009 and brings eight additional years of experience in non-profit program development to her work at Catholic Charities. O’Donnell is a member of the Catholic Charities USA Asset Building Steering Committee and a national trainer in the CFPB’s Your Money Your Goals.

Contact Us

To learn more about the services of the Family Success Center or to enroll in services, please contact us:

Phone: (503) 688.2596

Email: Click here (Select Family Success Center)

Give to the Family Success Center

Without the generosity of donors, Catholic Charities would not be able to support the life-changing services offered by the Family Success Center. The support of our community is instrumental in the success of all of our clients. Thank you for investing in this important work!

To make a gift to the Family Success Center by mail, send your check to the following address:

Catholic Charities
Attention: Development
2740 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97202

Click below to make an online gift.

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