As many of you know, we share our Lloyd Center office with our good friends at CASH Oregon. These past few months have been a swirl of activity as they helped thousands of people with free tax preparation and tax credit outreach. Never one to miss an opportunity to evangelize on financial education, Innovative Changes and CASH Oregon volunteers worked the waiting room of their Lloyd Center Super site, giving mini talks on a wide range of topics, such as household budgeting, how to get your free credit report and how to minimize the risk of identity theft.
We also had a busy month with partner outreach. Alder Elementary School provided us with a very inspirational site visit. As the first "Dreamer School" for the I Have a Dream Foundation, the entire school is focused on establishing the expectation that their students will go to college. The classrooms and hallways are full of college banners, inspirational quotes, and team mascots. Career planning is woven throughout the curriculum. Anyone who has ever met their Principal, Paz Ramos, will understand why Alder was chosen; he is unstoppable! Alder is a strategic partner in our individual development account (IDA) program, as the expectation is that some of the parents of Alder Elementary School will use our matched savings program to enroll in post secondary education, advancing their earning potential and setting an example for their children.
And finally, this month we started our participation in the Asset Building Cohort on Sustainability. With generous funding from the Paul G Allen Family Foundation, the Nonprofit Association of Oregon is running a five month program to build our expertise in nonprofit sustainability, outcome evaluation, cross-cultural effectiveness and leadership development. We are thrilled to be part of this dynamic group.
Looking ahead, the Money Smart Week begins April 23! On April 27th Innovative Changes is joining hands with Bradley Angle House to put on a free day long financial planning workshop at the Lloyd Center. The "Make Change Now" event will be full of great workshops and free one-on-one sessions with professional financial planners. See here for more information and please spread the word as all are welcome!
All the best,
One day last summer Rachell received a letter in the mail from the Ways to Work program at Metropolitan Family Service inviting her to apply for Innovative Changes (IC$) Women's Borrower Support Group (WBSG). The WBSG, a new program of IC$, convenes a group of women to discuss barriers they face to becoming financially stable, learn from each other's experiences and hold each other accountable to reaching their goals. They then are trained as mentors to coach other IC$ clients.
Since taking out a car loan from Ways to Work, Rachell had become increasingly motivated to get in control of her finances. As a single mother of three, Rachell says, "I was ready to make a conscious effort to learn some strategies to work on my finances and become more stable. I liked that the group was all women learning together. The opportunity to mentor people also really drew me to it; this is something I've always wanted to do because I've had a lot of unfortunate mishaps that I've learned from and I wanted to share and give back to others."
From the first night of group meetings, Rachell says, "I felt comfortable and safe in sharing my personal experiences. The women were caring and open to suggestions that group had. I felt freedom to express myself without criticism and that made me able to incorporate the information I learned in the group into my life."
Tracking spending was one of the main things that Rachell started incorporating into her life. She began using a daily spending tracking worksheet from IC$ and then went on to create her own system: she saves receipts in a special pouch and enters them into a journal at the end of the day. Based off what she saw in her spending habits, she immediately started making changes.
"Prior to the group, I got money, and then it was gone. Once I had a better picture of where I was spending money, I was able to adjust my habits and become more financially independent. Currently, I'm maintaining my own life without any outside aid. It's not easy but I'm doing it and that is such a huge accomplishment that I am so proud of."
|Spotlight: Misha Staggs
If you've ever called our office, you will most likely recognize the bubbly voice on the other end of the line as Misha Staggs, our Office Administrator. Misha came on board to Innovative Changes in July 2011. Before that we knew her as client facilitator extraordinaire of the CASH Oregon tax preparation waiting room. Since working at Innovative Changes, Misha has forged great relationships with clients (some of them call her on a daily basis just to check-in), and done everything from helping us make our loan system more efficient, directing people towards crucial and timely information, keeping the office organized even during hectic times and writing pieces for our client newsletter. This month, we bring you an interview with Misha so that you can get to know her too!
What brought you to Innovative Changes?
I originally started out with CASH Oregon through the JOBS Plus program through DHS for the tax season. I had so much fun working with a non-profit organization that when Innovative Changes became one of CASH Oregon's partners, they were talking about needing a receptionist/ administrative assistant, so CASH Oregon threw my name in the hat. A couple of months later I was able to come on board also through the JOBS Plus program. When my contract with the JOBS Plus program was done, IC$ hired me on as full-time staff. I was really excited to work with IC$. I truly believe that what IC$ is doing is going to make an impact on the local economy, and hopefully more communities will get involved and make this a national program.
If we were to walk in the office at any time of day, what would we most likely see you doing?
Either answering the phone, typing at my computer, working on an analysis, or putting packets together for our workshops. I am usually always doing something.
What's your favorite part about the work?
I love talking with the clients. But I have to say, my favorite part is seeing one of our clients becoming financially resilient and able to meet their goals; such as buying a house or getting out of a bad situation, getting out of the payday loop, or even raise their credit score. That's the most exciting part for me.....oh yeah, also when they pay off a loan with us.
Most recently, we had a client that had just finished their Credit Builder Loan with us. We did a comparison of the first credit report that was pulled a year ago, and the credit report that we pull at the end of the loan. Their credit score had jumped up over a hundred points. This particular story sticks out the most for me because it shows that people who have a bad credit history or no credit history at all, can fix it. It may take a while, but there is hope.
|Make Change Now: IC$ Celebrates Money Smart Week
In February we celebrated America Saves Week and had the opportunity to learn about people's savings habits and goals. Last month we celebrated International Women's Day, honoring the majority of our clients who are women. This month, we are pleased to participate in yet another relevant holiday: Money Smart Week from April 21-28. Originally established by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Money Smart Week has gone national as non profits, libraries and financial institutions organize financial education in their communities.
This year, in collaboration with Bradley Angle House, we are hosting Make Change Now, a day of free workshops and the opportunity to meet individually with a financial planner- no strings attached on April 27th from 12-7pm. AND (it keeps getting better) a chance to win a laptop! Everyone is welcome and refreshments and child care will be provided. Participants are welcome to come for all, some or part of the day!
The event will be at 2025 Lloyd Center Mall (3rd floor between the Nordstroms and Food Court). Call 503-249-5205 to sign up for Make Change Now! Registration perferred but not required, walk-ins welcome!
Here is the workshop schedule:
|12:00-12:45||Creating Realistic Spending Plans|
|12:45-1:30||Taxes & Considerations for Domestic Violence Survivors|
|1:30-2:15||Safety and Finances|
|2:15-3:00||Financial Implications of Divorce|
|4:30-5:15||Predatory Lending & Identity Theft|
|5:15-6:00||Funding your Education|
|6:00-6:45||Planning for Retirement|
Please help us spread the word about this great event (see attached flyer
|Innovative Changes IDAs for Post-Secondary Education: Spots still open!
The IC$ IDA program offers a 3:1 match for those saving to attend an institution of higher education. Our program is the only education IDA open to the public (although we suspect our spots will go fast) and participants must meet IDA criteria specified on our website as well as attend an IDA orientation to be eligible to apply.
If you are interested in the IDA program, or know someone who may be interested, sign up for an IDA orientations today! The orientations will be held on (choose one):
- Monday, April 16th from 5:30-7pm
- Tuesday, May 15th from 5:30-7pm
To register click here. For more information on our IDA program please visit our website or contact Talia, firstname.lastname@example.org.
You Can Help!
You care about helping people achieve and maintain household stability. Now you can join our efforts at Innovative Changes as we expand our reach to serve more clients. Your generous donation will be put to good use!
Be a credit builder:
- $50 covers the cost to deliver and manage a credit builder loan so a borrower can establish and/or increase their credit score.
- $150 provides the capital for credit builder loan for an individual to establish or increase their credit score. (Your donation can be made in monthly installments of just $12.50).
Be a stabilizer:
- $75 covers the cost to deliver and manage a responsible, small dollar installment loan so a borrower can work through a short-term financial need in a manner that sets them up for success.
- $600 provides the capital for a responsible, small dollar installment loan so a borrower can take control and move forward to improving his or her situation. (Just $50 per month).
Be an asset builder:
- $25 sponsors an individual to attend our 4-part household resiliency financial education class on cash flow planning, budgeting, saving, banking, and credit.
- $120 covers 6 months of intensive individual financial coaching for one family.
- $150 Funds the costs of developing and delivering a monthly financial seminar on topics such as tax time preparation, consolidating student loans and talking to your kids about money.
- $500 Enables us to reach more clients with more workshops, coaching and seminars.
Monthly giving program:
Whatever amount you can afford, you can set it up for monthly automatic payments to ease your cash flow. If you have bill pay service with your bank you can set up Innovative Changes to receive regular monthly payments. If you prefer, we can process a monthly ACH transaction on your behalf. Contact us at email@example.com to set up your monthly giving program.
Thank you for your support!
As of 4/13/2012
342, averaging $472.44 for a total of $161,578.20
Revolved amount: $118,799.47
Repaid loans: 169
Financial education clients: