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News from Innovative Changes
JULY 2011



As this summer remains a stressful time for our clients and low income families throughout the state, we stand by our motto "use the tools that work for you!" This month we bring you  Don's story which embodies this motto.We also highlight our partner, Home Forward, formerly the Housing Authority of Portland, which has a major impact othe supply of such tools that help many people maintain household stability.


In light these hard economic times, we are exploring new ways to have a deeper impact on more clients. We are hosting lots of financial education classes in English and Spanish and are rolling out a volunteer program. We will be starting up some more exciting projects in the fall so stay tuned for next month's newsletter with updates on our Women's Borrower Support Group and Education IDAs. 


In the meantime, stay cool (or rather, stay warm during this cold summer spell) and happy reading!. 



Sarah Chenven
Executive Director

Don's Story


A year ago, Don Johnson was having some financial troubles. He decided to take a budgeting class from REACH Community Development. After completing the class, REACH referred Don to Innovative Changes for an Opportunity Loan to settle some past debts that had been bogging him down. While paying off debts, Don chose to have his Innovative Changes loan reported to the credit bureaus so that he was simultaneously building new, positive credit. This fresh financial start gave Don the ability to begin planning for the future, which he's been doing for the past year by using skills he learned from the workshop and developing new ones. Now, every three months he makes it a habit to draw up a new budget to ensure that it realistically depicts his lifestyle.


In addition to budgeting tools, Don also started exploring the world of online banking that his veteran's bank provided to see how it could help him manage his money. Don had been reluctant to use these features in the past, preferring the more traditional "pen and paper", but now finds them very useful. He advises everyone to "use the tools you have available to you" and to "communicate with your bank." He thinks that banking works best when the bank knows your situation and you know all that the bank has to offer. "Banks have gotten friendlier," says Don, so if you have a question or don't understand something, "ask!" Communication allowed Don to develop a good working relationship with his bank.  Don's bank helped him set up a direct deposit to his checking account and more recently, Don opened an IRA account. He also has set the goal of saving $20 a month for emergency funds. 


Partner Highlight: Home Forward

hflogoWe just finished two series of classes at Home Forward's Humbolt Gardens location. Intrigued by the name change and pumped from the classes, we checked in with Home Forward staff, Nikki Blackburn for the inside scoop.


What is your role at Home Forward and what drew you to this work? 


I am the Resident and Community Services Coordinator for the Opportunity Housing Initiative Program (OHI) at our Humboldt Gardens site.  I have been with Home Forward for 24 years, 7 years doing resident service coordination. What drew me to the work in regards to OHI and self sufficiency is that the people that we serve are REAL PEOPLE with real needs and barriers that they feel are insurmountable and often feel hopeless. I recognized that families need to know that they don't have to settle for a life time of poverty. They can, with encouragement and support, set goals to work themselves off of all assistance and be completely self reliant.


What was the reason for the name change?


We've outgrown the Housing Authority of Portland as a name.  It's no longer geographically accurate, nor does it accurately reflect our mission, which is to provide stability and opportunity through housing.  Our new name and identity symbolize the goals HAP has always championed - shelter and support for those in need. The name itself communicates that homes enable our residents to move forward in life and also suggests our commitment to forward-thinking policies and programs to support that goal. 


Financial Education Galore!  SLs

See below for our packed schedule of financial education, including our first series of Financial Household Resiliency workshops in Spanish!


Predatory Lending Seminar

July 19th, 5:30-6:30pm

Our very own Program Director, Sarah Chenven, will lead an enlightening seminar on predatory lending: How does it work?, What are the attractions?What's legal? And, what are all these fees that draw people into a never-ending cycle of debt? What are alternatives to the reckless lending system? 

*These seminars are part of our ongoing monthly seminar series covering special topics of interest to our clients. For more information about our seminar visit our website here.




We also will be hosting our own Summer Financial Household Resiliency series in English and Spanish, open to everyone. Here is the schedule:


Financial Household Resiliency Workshops: 


Day 1: Saturday, July 23   

Part 1: Making Ends Meet, 10am-12pm

Part 2: Budgeting and Saving, 12:30pm-2:30pm                  Day 2: Saturday, July 30 

Part 3: Hands-On Banking, 10am-12pm   

Part 4: Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit, 12:30pm-2:30pm 


Our classes and seminars will be held at our new location:  

3rd Floor of the Lloyd Center Mall (near Nordstroms), 2201 Lloyd Center, Portland


To Register: call or email Talia at (503)-943-5620/


The classes and seminars are $10 each or $30 for all four classes. Fee waivers are available for those who qualify.


 Financial Household Resiliency Workshops in Spanish!


*Every Thursday from July 21st to August 11th from 4pm-6pm


These classes will be held at Hacienda's Community Center Salon Comunal 6856 NE Killingsworth, Portland, OR 97218.


Please contact Norma to register or for more information:

(503) 737-7672 or

Partnership and Volunteer Opportunitiesspecial


Referring Partner Orientation Webinar:

On Monday, August 8th from 11am-12pm we will hold a Referring Partner Orientation for those of you who missed it in March, or for those who wish to refer clients and have not yet attended an orientation (orientations are mandatory for those within your organization who wish to refer clients for loans). The webinar will cover Innovative Changes' services - including more detail on our three loan products, the steps for referring clients, and your role as a referring partner after a loan is made. We will also explain recent changes to our policies and procedures.  Please feel free to forward this information to anyone in your organization whom you think should participate.  

Click here to register


Training of the Trainers for Volunteers:


If you are interested in becoming a Financial Household Resiliency Workshop facilitator (this is our 4-part series on Making Ends Meet, Budgeting and Saving, Hands-On Banking and Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit), you must attend a Training of the Trainers session. They will be held quarterly, and our first will be August 19th from 9am-1pm at our office in the Lloyd Center.


If you are interested in becoming a One-on-One Financial Coach, the Training of the Trainers session will be on September 16th from 9am-12pm at our office in the Lloyd Center. These trainings will be held quarterly as well.


 To sign up for either of these trainings please email Talia at by August 15th.


*For more information about our volunteer opportunities please visit our website.

You Can Help!

Innovative Changes is able to keep its rates low because of the donations it receives from those who care about Oregonians. Please help us continue to meet our clients' needs by making a generous donation today.
  • $25 allows an individual to attend our 4-part Household Resiliency financial education class on cash flow planning, budgeting, saving, banking, and credit.
  • $100 keeps a family warm this winter by covering their heating bill.
  • $150 covers 6 months of intensive individual financial coaching for 1 family.
  • $500 helps a family make car repairs to commute to work.
  • $1,000 keeps a family facing eviction housed.
Your gift will make a difference. Thank you from all of us at Innovative Changes for your generosity this holiday season.

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In This Issue
Don's Story
Partner Highlight: Home Forward
Financial Education Galore!
Partnership and Volunteer Opportunities
You Can Help!
Quick Stats
New Partners
Quick Stats
As of 7/14/2011

Partnerships  30


242, averaging $464.67 for a total of $112,450

Revolved amount  

Repaid loans 63

Financial education clients



 Read the full list of our partners >  
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Our Mission
Innovative Changes exists to help low-income individuals and families, and those who otherwise lack adequate access to capital and/or financial services, manage short-term financial needs in order to achieve and maintain household stability.