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Find Financial Assistance

King County Library System, Wash.

Workforce and Economic Development | 2020 | Top Innovator

Innovation Synopsis

Find Financial Assistance helps people recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. Patrons can email or call to describe their need, ranging from small business loans to unemployment claims to assistance with rent, food or tuition. A Financial Assistance Navigator will respond with a customized list of relevant community resources and programs.


As a result of COVID-19 shutdowns, many in our community suddenly lost their jobs, businesses or incomes. Often, they were not sure where to turn for help, especially if they had never needed it before. People found it challenging and overwhelming to navigate the complex and rapidly changing web of relief programs. As experts in connecting people with trusted information, librarians were well positioned to help people find and learn about the financial resources most likely to be helpful for them.

Key Elements of Innovation

Patrons tell us their business, employment and/or personal financial needs by using an online form or phone. Staff from the Financial Assistance Navigator team research relevant programs and respond with a fully customized list of resources and referrals in the patron’s preferred language. This service is unique because it addresses each person’s need holistically. Patrons only need to contact us once to learn about many kinds of relief, from small business loans to tuition grants to rent assistance.

Achieved Outcomes

In the six months the service has been operating, about 150 patrons have received help finding financial relief. Half of the questions included help with small business, 68% with basic needs, 34% with unemployment and 23% with funds for tuition or career resources. Most requested multiple kinds of assistance. Patrons have told us the lists not only helped them make new connections, but also renewed their sense of optimism. As one patron wrote, “You have given someone hope and relief that there are options for me.”