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News from Innovative Changes



As summer wraps up, Innovative Changes continues to operate in high gear. We saw an uptick in requests from our clients for assistance in purchasing school uniforms and supplies for their children last month, and highlighted less expensive and free alternatives for parents in our August Innovative Connections. This month we are focused on rolling out additional support systems and resources for our clients through our Women Borrowers Support groups and Education IDAs.  


We bring you an interview with Yolanda, whose journey with Innovative Changes has helped her budget for her lifestyle and keep her furry companion Matilda alive. Our featured partner this month is Community Vision Inc., an amazing organization that provides individualized housing, supported living, employment and homeownership services to people with disabilities and their families in Oregon. Stay tuned for future newsletters highlighting our expanding relationship with Community Vision, which will include providing loans to their clients to purchase assistive technology.


This month we were invited by the City of Portland to participate on a steering committee to help plan Portland's Financial Planning Day on October 22 2011 during which professional financial planners will provide their services to people in need. See below for more information on this great opportunity. 


Although this is my last newsletter for Innovative Changes, please join me in continuing to follow the fantastic work of this organization in the future!


Sarah Chenven
Executive Director
Yolanda's Story clientstory


A year ago Yolanda unexpectedly faced a large expense, and there was no way she could afford it: her 16-year-old cat, Matilda, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and needed radio iodine therapy. Matilda was on the brink of death and needed the procedure immediately. Unfortunately, since becoming disabled, Yolanda had poor credit. She couldn't find a single place that would lend her the money.


Thankfully, the Resident Services Coordinator at Yolanda's REACH community referred her to Innovative Changes. Yolanda had finally found a way to keep Matilda alive. "I was so glad that [Innovative Changes] was there," said Yolanda, "they're such a wonderful resource to have."


After working with Carmina Lass, Innovative Changes' Financial Education and Loan Program Manager, Yolanda was able to find a loan size and a payment amount that fit her fixed income. "I only borrowed what I could pay back," said Yolanda, which made budgeting for the loan much easier.

Before taking out the loan, Yolanda knew she would need a monthly budget and had a rough idea of what it would be. When she met with Carmina, they worked to compose as realistic of a budget as possible before taking out the loan. As the months went on, Yolanda fine tuned the budget. "It was a great learning experience," she said.


Partner Highlight: Rebecca Miller, Community Vision Inc. partnerspotlight

Recently, Innovative Changes became partners with Community Vision Inc. (CVI), the largest nonprofit organization providing individualized housing, supported living, employment and home ownership services to people with disabilities and their families in Oregon. Over the past couple months, IC$ Executive Director, Sarah Chenven has been working hard along with CVI and CASA of Oregon to develop an assisted technology loan program so that clients with disabilities can afford the technology that they need. In addition since signing an MOU with CVI, Innovative Changes has worked with several of their clients to build credit. Excited about this partnership, we decided to check in with Rebecca Miller, Development Director & Homeownership Coordinator at CVI.


What is your role at Community Vision?


I manage our three asset development programs for Community Vision: Future Assets for Independence (IDA), Homeownership Independence Project, and the new Oregon Accessibility Loan Fund.  I connect people with disabilities to the resources they need to build financial independence.  I organize work parties to help people maintain their homes, make accessibility modifications, and that foster community building.


How long have you been working there?


I have been employed at CVI for 3 years.  I was originally hired as the Development Director and currently hold both roles as Development Director and Asset Programs Manager.  We are in the process of hiring a new Development Director so I can focus on the growing asset building programs. Prior to working for CVI, I rode bikes with the Executive Director and supported the organization as a donor.  I created a cycling event called the Harvest Century and began donating proceeds to CVI. Eventually, I handed the event over to CVI and now it is their top fundraiser. 


What drew you to this work?


I am relatively new to the world of asset development, but have a lot of experience working with people and managing complex projects.   I really enjoy working with people and love to talk about and work for what is possible. CVI has been pushing the envelope for over twenty years and I love the idea of being a part of something bigger than myself.  People with disabilities are often overlooked, undervalued, and rarely given the same opportunities as people without disabilities -but not here at CVI.  Because our programs and underlying philosophy centers on the individual, each day is different.  Each person I get to work with comes with a unique story and a new set of circumstances, which presents new things to learn, and problems to solve and at the end of the process (with any luck!) there is a new dream fulfilled.   


Portland Financial Planning Day: Free Financial Help from the Expertsspecialevent


In today's uncertain economy, planning for you financial future is more important than ever.  If you have financial questions or concerns, or would like to learn how to better manage your finances, City of Portland invites you to Financial Planning Day, where you'll have an opportunity to receive free, personalized, confidential answers from professional financial planners.  The event will be held on Saturday, October 22 from 10am-4pm at the The Portland Building, 1120 SW Fifth, 2nd floor, Portland.


Financial Planning Day is organized by City of Portland in partnership with the Financial Planning Association, Innovative Changes and other community organizations, and is part of Financial Planning Days - a first-of-its-kind national initiative to provide free financial education and programming to people across the country.  Financial Planning Days was created by four national non-profit organizations - Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Financial Planning Association, Foundation for Financial Planning, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. 


At the event, experts from the Financial Planning Association and highly qualified Certified Financial Planner™ professionals will be stationed at tables and will meet with you one-on-one to offer free personalized advice on a variety of financial topics, including - getting out of debt, retirement planning, investment strategies, tax issues, insurance, and estate planning, among many others.     


There are no strings attached! All financial planners are participating as volunteers and they will not be selling products or services, or giving out business cards.  Come as you are, or come prepared with any financial paperwork related to your questions.  And, you can consult with as many different financial planners as you need.    


Walk-ins are welcome, but admission will be granted first to those who have registered online  here or by calling toll free at 877-861-7826.  We expect a large crowd, so we encourage you to register early.


Find out more about who will be there and what workshops will be offered here. And, check out this video to see what past participants have said about Financial Planning Day. We hope to see you there!


Financial Education Galore!  fined

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


Collections Seminar

Tuesday, September 13th, 5:30-6:30pm

Baffled by the world of collections? Do you get frequent calls from collectors and not know how to deal with them? Interested in finding out what your rights are as a debtor? Come to our seminar that will break down the often haunting world of collections. Learn what collectors are allowed and not allowed to do, how to work with collections strategically and more about the system of collections in general.

*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.


The seminar will be held at our Lloyd Center Office:  

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


To Register: call or email Talia at (503)-249-5205 or



Seemingly distant, but fast approaching, we will be hosting our Fall Financial Household Resiliency series in English and Spanish, open to everyone. Here is the schedule:


Financial Household Resiliency Workshops: 


Day 1: Saturday, October 8th   

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

Part 2: Budgeting and Saving, 12:30pm-2:30pm                  Day 2: Saturday, October 15th 

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 $5 each or $15 for all four classes. Fee waivers are available for those who qualify.

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
Article Headline
Financial Education Galore!
You Can Help!
Quick Stats
New Partners
Quick Stats
As of 9/13/2011

Partnerships  32


282, averaging $458.54 for a total of $128,730.48

Revolved amount  

Repaid loans: 86

Financial education clients

New Partners  


 Community Vision, Inc.


 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.