Free Financial Navigator Program to Help Residents Tackle COVID-19 Financial Challenges

February 23, 2021



Department of Family and Support Services Announces Launch of Free Financial Navigator Program to Help Residents Tackle COVID-19 Financial Challenges


CHICAGO – Today, the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS), in partnership with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) and Heartland Alliance, announced the launch of the free Financial Navigators Program to help residents deal with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trained financial navigators will provide structured guidance, over the phone, to help people strategize around support for disruptions to their income. To sign up, residents should call 773.799.9062 or submit an online interest form  here

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis in the personal finances of everyday Chicagoans, many of whom had already been struggling before the virus reached our city,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “The Financial Navigator Program will not only provide our residents and families the critical support needed for find their way back to financial stability, but it will serve as a foundation to our recovery citywide.” 

The Financial Navigators Program is designed to help residents navigate critical financial issues by managing expenses through prioritizing payments and when to make them, as well as maximizing income through ensuring receipt of federal payments, unemployment benefits, and other resources. During a one-on-one session, a financial navigator will identify actionable next steps to resolve a resident’s financial issues. The resident will then receive a document via email outlining those next steps. 

“The Financial Navigators Program is a prime example of our City’s commitment to ensuring that residents from all walks of life can access resources for economic stability in the midst of very unprecedented times,” said DFSS Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler. “When every resident can participate in economic growth, communities citywide will thrive and the city collectively can reach its full potential.” 

DFSS is launching the Financial Navigators Program in partnership with the CFE Fund, who provided grant funding along with significant technical assistance and training to launch the program in Chicago and other cities and counties across the nation. The Financial Navigators initiative is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Citi Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the Wells Fargo Foundation. Heartland Alliance will facilitate and manage program operations in Chicago. 

“Financial distress is a primary part of the COVID-19 crisis and we’re pleased that the City of Chicago is making this a priority for its residents,” said CFE Fund President and CEO Jonathan Mintz. “The Financial Navigators program will help residents assess and prioritize their financial concerns and get connected with the right resources.”  

“It’s difficult to know where to turn for safe and reputable financial information and resources,” said Heartland Alliance Director of Asset Building Kathryn Socha. “Our Navigators will link Chicago residents with trusted resources related to credit, debt, taxes, income, and other financial issues that can help them weather this crisis and set themselves and their families on the path to economic success.”  

As the city’s leading agency for social services, DFSS has 57 delegate agency partners that provide economic empowerment and workforce development services. DFSS invests in initiatives for the hardest to serve individuals who are low-income and have limited work skills, with a special focus on persons with criminal records, residents experiencing homelessness or are at-risk of experiencing homelessness, and persons with limited English proficiency. To get connected to citywide DFSS initiatives, residents can visit