Financial Wellness Institute – NIU


Chartered in 2003, the Financial Wellness Institute (FWI) is a nationally-recognized, private, nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization headquartered in Deptford, NJ. Serving the Delaware Valley area, the Institute provides community outreach educational programs and services to help consumers improve their wellbeing.

FWI’s mission is to “Strengthen individuals and families and move communities to economic stability”. The Institute’s goal is to change individuals’ behavior by empowering and educating them to improve their financial, physical, social, career and community wellbeing.

Using an integrated bundle of services, the Institute is recognized for its holistic strategic approach. FWI provides a supportive network of family enrichment and capacity building services by pulling together practitioners and advocates from academia, government, social service agencies, and the private sector who work together to move families toward economic stability and opportunity.

Financial Education & Economic Empowerment: Through financial education, the Institute helps clients develop their capability and financial “know-how” – knowledge, skills and confidence – to take effective action to make informed decisions regarding the current and future use and management of money. Clients have access to one-on-one, in-person and virtual coaching sessions to resolve financial issues and develop a wealth building strategy to achieve their self-defined financial goal.

Pre-Post Housing Counseling: First-time home buyers receive pre-post housing counseling on becoming homeowners and maintaining homeownership. Renters are educated about rental housing. Clients who successfully complete this program are assisted with identifying down payment, closing costs or rental payment assistance.

Housing Development: Through the Institute’s REsolution Housing Development Program, properties are acquired and rehabbed in naturally occurring affordable communities and are offered for sale or rental at affordable prices.

Career Services : Clients receive comprehensive career coaching to help them develop a plan to increase their earning potential.

Small Business Technical Support: Entrepreneurs and small business owners are provided with technical assistance and capacity building support to start and grow their businesses.

United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Purchase Repair Program –
Self-Help Housing

Awarded a grant in February 2020, FWI launched the USDA RD Purchase Repair Program in March 2020. The Purchase Repair Program, also known as the Self-Help Housing Program, is designed to help very-low to low income families achieve homeownership. Providing technical and supervisory assistance to first-time home buyers, the purpose is to assist families living in Atlantic, Burlington, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem County, New Jersey, with the acquisition and rehabilitation of homes, ensuring families have safe, decent, healthy and affordable housing.

Welcoming One Family Home…

FWI client, Sabrina T. Simpkins never wanted to buy a home. She had been renting for several years in Cumberland and Gloucester Counties. It was not until her rental home of four years, was vandalized twice in a matter of six months that she decided it was time for her and her young son to move. They moved in with her parents in February of 2020, and she began planning her next move. Sabrina decided to pay off all her debt while saving money. A few months later she received a call from Jill Lombardo-Melchiore, our Group Coordinator-Marketing Specialist, who was recruiting participants for the USDA First Time Homebuyer Purchase and Repair Program. After Sabrina learned of the program, she decided to take the next step into homeownership and complete the application.

The program offered Sabrina the unique opportunity to purchase a home with no deposit, no down payment and extended loan repayment time frame. Instead of 15-30 years, she qualified for a 38-year mortgage, and the loan paid for all expenses that would normally come out of pocket during a regular home buying experience. In order to qualify, she was required to meet a number of financial requirements, as well as contribute more than 125 hours of sweat equity towards the rehabilitation of the property. Sabrina eagerly met the requirements and our Real Estate Development Project Manager, Ted Gooding and Janice Kaighn, Supervised Bank Account Manager, were there every step of the way to guide and support her in her home buying journey.

After searching for a few months, Sabrina found the perfect place in the neighborhood in which she grew up and became the first person with Financial Wellness Institute to accomplish homeownership through the USDA Self-Help Purchase and Repair Program. She and her son officially moved into their new home in March of 2021.

Historical Data

Year Began


Total Homes

3 Repaired

Area Served

Atlantic, Burlington, Cumberland, Gloucester, & Salem Counties, NJ


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