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Innovative Connections
Resource Toolkit for November 2010

In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Article Headline
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Resource Profile: Black Parent University
For Our Borrowers
Quick Links
Upcoming Events
Holiday Finances 101 &
Holiday Resource Fair

* Wednesday, December 1st, 5:30-7pm
* New Columbia Opportunity Center,
4610 N Trenton St, Portland, OR 97203

Black Parent University Financial Fitness Series

* Session 2: Saturday, January 8
* Session 3: Saturday, February 5
* Session 4: Saturday March 5
* All 10am-12pm
* Concordia University,
Luther Hall Room L118
2811 NE Holman Street,
Portland, OR 
* Light Breakfast Served

FREE Dental Clinic

* Oregon Convention Center
* 777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd,
Portland, Oregon 97232
* 11/22 through 11/23, * Opening at 7am
* More info online
* Or call Oregon Dental Association at 503.218.2010 or 800.452.5628

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Fix it Fairs

* November 21
* Roosevelt High School,
6941 N Central Street,

* January 9
* David Douglas High School,
1001 SE 135th Avenue,

* January 30 Parkrose High School,
12003 NE Shaver Street, Portland

Innovative Changes Financial Education Classes

* January and February
* Details TBA

Macy's Holiday Parade

* Friday, November 26th, 8:45am
* Downtown Portland

Free Vintage Trolley Rides

* Every Sunday until Christmas
* Old style trolleys run along the MAX tracks on the Portland Transit Mall
* Call Tri-met for more info: 503.323.7363

Join Our Mailing List

Fall is blurring into winter and the holiday season is almost in full swing. With all this change and activity, it's important to stay organized and on top of your money management. In this November edition of Innovative Connections, we discuss how to save money by joining a credit union, point you to a few food resources for the holidays, invite you to our Holiday Resource Fair, and highlight the Black Parent University. We hope you find the information helpful!

Best wishes,

Innovative Changes

Tip of the Month: Save with a Credit Union

* Send us your tips! Each month we will collect your innovative money management tips- these could be about resourceful ways you've saved money, thrifty activities you enjoy, helpful insights into living on a tight budget, etc. We will enter these tips into a pool and if selected, your tip will be featured in the next Innovative Connections and you will win a $20 Fred Meyer gift card.

Here's a tip from this month's winner, Sharon V.:

Join a credit union and save money. You may be eligible to join just by where you work, live or go to school. Credit union fees are typically lower than commercial bank. Also, credit unions may be a bit more forgiving with past credit problems. Even though my credit score was low I was able to get a Visa with a good limit, no annual fees and a low interest rate. They looked at what I had done in the last couple years with my credit and felt I was worth the risk. With this new credit account I was able to pay off two cards with tiny limits ($300 each) and my credit score jumped 60 points. Yeah!

At Innovative Changes, we don't promote credit unions over banks, or visa versa, we merely seek to supply you with the information needed to find services that best work for you. With that said, as Sharon explains, since credit unions are non profits and member-owned, they may have better rates and lower fees than banks. Often they are locally based- which is good for establishing relationships with your financial institution. This can be limiting when leaving home, however if your credit union is part of the CU Service Center network, you have the ability to tap into the services of other credit unions and ATMs when not at home. If you're interested in joining a credit union:
  1. Visit the CU Service Center website to scout out credit unions in your area. Some main credit unions in the Portland area include: Unitus, OnPoint, Oregon Community Credit Union, United Advantage Northwest. 
  2. Make a list of the services that you would like from a credit union: savings account, checking, online banking, secured credit cards, close by, etc.
  3. Shop around. Find a credit union that is convenient and has the services that you're looking for. Call them up, or go in for a visit and ask questions. Find out what types of services you are eligible for, and make sure they match up with your list.
  4. May the best one gain your patronage!

Send your monthly tips to : 

4610 N. Trenton St. Portland, OR 9720 

or tell/e-mail them to Talia at: 503.943.5620,

Image credit: kevindooley

Resources: Food for the Holidays

ForksThanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, whatever you celebrate, a big part of the holiday season, and staying warm during the winter months is eating. If you're strapped for cash or need to decrease part of your budget there are assistance programs out there to ensure that you and your family have access to food during these times. Here are a few places to look into.

Holiday Food Box Highlight: The Sunshine Division

Call 503.823.2102 between 9:30 and 11:30am or between 12:30 and 3:30pm, Monday through Friday, to sign up for a Holiday Food Box. The boxes will be dropped off at your residence on December 18th. To qualify you must live in the city of Portland (there are 4,000 spots available!).

Emergency Food Boxes

A free, 3-5 day supply of food for you and your family:
  • Neighborhood House, locations throughout the city 503.246.1663 x100
  • Northeast Emergency Food Program (NEFP), located at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, 4800 NE 72nd Ave. (at Wygant), in Portland. Open to our guests from 1 to 4 p.m., on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. 503.284.5470
  • has a good data base of food boxes, hot meals and other assistance resources across town
  • Oregon Food Bank at also has a food finder tool which can help you find food resources near you.
Image credit: m4r00n3d

Holiday Resource Fair

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, but especially if you are living on a tight budget. You might find yourself facing pressure to buy the perfect gifts, make the right meals, connect with friends and family and seem happy even if times are rough. Planning in advance and being clear about what the holidays mean to you can alleviate a lot of that stress. So for this holiday season, Innovative Changes will be hosting "Holiday Finances 101", kicking off our new series of monthly seminars.

Holiday Finances 101, hosted at the New Columbia Opportunity Center from 5:30-7:00pm on December 1st, will equip interested individuals, with tools and resources to minimize stress during through the holiday season. During the first part, we will discuss topics such as: managing holiday stress, saving and budgeting for the holidays, figuring out what the holidays mean to you and how to bring your family together during the holidays in a low cost way. The seminar will be followed by a resource fair at which we will have representation from other organizations in the community that provide specific holiday resources (food, gifts, clothes...etc) for individuals and families during this time. So come, bring your family and start taking steps to get through the holiday season in an enjoyable way! Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

To attend, please RSVP by calling or emailing Talia at 503.943.5620 or

Resource Profile: Black Parent University 

BPI logo
The Black Parent Initiative is a community-based organization developed to address the significant and longstanding educational and life challenges facing Black students in Portland-area school districts.

They do this through a resource center, school based parent advocates, at home advocacy and support and a Parent University. The Parent University offers courses that focus on parenting, literacy, finance, health, and tutoring for low/moderate income parents to enhance the life outcomes of Black children. If you missed out on our Financial Household Stability workshops (to be offered again in January), BPI University is offering financial literacy classes of their own over the next couple months:

Financial Fitness: Session II - How To Build Wealth In An African American Family

Saturday, January 8, 2011, 10am-12pm

In this session we will review the outcomes from the prior class assignment - collecting and tracking all household spending. We will review and discuss any challenges and/or successes discovered by class participants. Next, talk about building WEALTH in the family/household and the role a budget plays in that goal. We will talk about:
  • Why building good credit can make you money
  • The "Rule of 72"
  • How to think about money like a millionaire
  • The BEST way to save money
  • How to make your money work hard for you

Financial Fitness: Session III - What Are You Saving For?

Saturday, February 5, 2011, 10am-12pm

This class will be packed with a variety of savings options. If you have stuck to your budget and you have dollars to save you have options! If you do not see a saving, this session will show you options that await you. This class will be building on the prior two classes. Since you have tracked your spending for the last 3 months we will be looking to the future and establishing healthy habits of tracking spending and looking for savings. In this class we will:

  • Learn different ways to save for child's education
  • The advantages and disadvantages of each
  • Eligibility of each product
  • Tax advantages

Financial Fitness: Session IV - Coaching Session

Saturday March 5 2011, 10am-12pm

In this class each participant will be given an opportunity to schedule time with a "financial coach" to review the progress they have made on their budgeting, tracking, spending and savings.

To register contact:

Black Parent Initiative

2811 NE Holman Street

Portland, Oregon 97211


For Our Borrowers

Are You Receiving Your Payment Reminders?

If you chose to receive your payment reminders by email, make sure that they are coming to your inbox and not your junk mail. If you would like to change the way that you receive reminders (by mail, by email, or by phone call) let us know! Call Talia at 503.943.5620 or Carmina at 503.943.5645.

How to Make Your Loan Payment
  • You can mail your payment by check or money order to: o Innovative Changes, 4610 N. Trenton St., Portland, OR 97203
  • You can drop off your payment (check, money order or cash) at the New Columbia Opportunity Center Front Desk- Mon- Fri, 8am-5pm 
    • Please note the building is closed to the public during the lunch hour (12pm-1pm) and is occasionally closed on Fridays for State furlough days.
    • The front desk person has envelopes and is authorized to collect payments on our behalf if we are not in. If you are paying in cash and need change, you must contact Sarah (503.943.5670), Carmina (503.943.5645) or Talia (503.943.5620) in advance to arrange a meeting time.
  • Carmina can accept payments at our Gresham location from 3pm-6pm or by appointment only on Fridays. o Gresham Village Square Community Room, 1625 SE Roberts Dr. Gresham, OR 97080. Call Carmina at 503.449.6299 to set up an appointment.

We Are Here to Help!

Are you having trouble making your payment this month, or afraid that it might be a little late? Let us know! We understand that unexpected events and expenses can make it hard to keep your finances on track, and Innovative Changes wants to be there for you in such cases. Innovative Changes is flexible and willing to work with our borrowers to satisfy loan obligations, and in return we ask for honest and timely communication. Remember, if you know your payment is going to be late, let us know ahead of time and we might be able to avoid charging a late fee, or sending out a late notice.