Justine Zinkin has that rare combination-- a soft heart for helping others and a sharp mind for finance. The combination has led her to the top of the non-profit organization, Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners.
Neighborhood Trust was founded in 1994 with the mssion of empowering hard working, low-income families to become productive participants in the U.S. financial system and reach their financial goals.
Low wage workers ,who struggle just to get by, are often caught in a vicious cycle of crushing debt, poor credit, and the high costs of borrowing to meet basic expenses. Justine believes that setting them on a solid financial path can change their outlook and their lives. The first step, she says, is earning their trust and building their financial self-confidence.
Clients work alongside financial coaches who encourage them to roll up their sleeves and learn how to reduce their debt, increase their savings, improve their credit profile, and work toward long-term stability.
Since its inception, Neighborhood Trust has grown dramatically, from serving hundreds of people a year to now six thousand every year who are taking advantage of this new pathway to prosperity. And word of their success is spreading. In 2008, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recruited Neighborhood Trust to offer free one-on-one financial counseling at several newly-created financial empowerment centers across Manhattan.
Despite that recognition, Justine says, there’s still work to be done. “I always feel a little bit like Sisyphus — except I have that glimpse just over the mountain,” she says. “I’m always saying, ‘we’re not there yet, but I believe we’re going to get there. We’re going to have a huge impact.”