The excitement of summer is fast approaching and we are busy holding lots of workshops and seminars. We are seeing an uptick in our credit builder loan applications, as more people start the process of improving their credit to advance a long term goal such as homeownership. And, this week we enrolled our fourteenth saver in our recently launched matched savings program!
Through our coaching work and our opportunity loans, we are reminded daily of the stunning costs people pay when they lack access to responsible financial services. Many of us are fortunate to have a relationship with a financial institution that is based on mutual responsibility and trust. When someone is shut out of the formal banking system, like many of our clients are, not only do they face extremely high transaction costs, but they are excluded from a system that defines so much of our lives and how we interact with each other.
As our economy continues to sputter and more and more people come to us for help, I've been thinking a lot about our collective responsibilities to each other. It reminds me of the Kwanzaa principle of Ujamaa. The Swahili word Ujamaa roughly translates as "a person becomes a person through other people". Tanzanians use the term Ujamaa to refer to the cooperative economic structures they established for banking, agriculture and commerce, as they realized the strength in people coming together for the greater good. For me, Ujamaa reinforces the concept that we are all in this together. The story of Alyssa and Sterling Bank is a great example of the huge impact the people in our financial institutions can have on people, and as Alyssa says, "I feel like a functioning member of society again". Just the simple act of a second chance can make such a difference in how we interact with each other.
Here's to more second chances for all of us.
All the best,
In April, we held our four part Financial Household Resiliency (FHR) workshops at the Lloyd Center. Alyssa was told of the classes by her mother and they decided to attend together. Alyssa explains,"I had wanted to get a better handle on my finances for a long time and this seemed like an easy and cost effective way to do so."
Although the basics of each class are the same, the class discussions vary depending on what each participant brings in terms of his/her own experience. The group discussions, debates and sharing are what makes the classes a unique experience for everyone. This past April, IC$ staff was joined by Scott Hartley of Sterling Bank who added an informed banking perspective to the mix. Needless to say the "Hands-on Banking" class got juicy when Scott's asked the group about their worst banking experiences as an icebreaker in the beginning of class.
Alyssa was the first to bravely speak up, telling the group how a fraudulent check blocked her out of the banking system. She says "I assumed that the check given to me was a good check since I had no way of knowing otherwise." Alyssa's bank was unwilling to work with her and reported the missing funds to ChexSystems. Since this occurrence, for the past five years she has been unable to get a bank account.
Alyssa describes the difficulties of being unbanked: "You can't pay bills without paying for a money order, or bank check or western union along with the fees associated with that. I had to go to the bank every month to buy money orders so that I could pay my bills. Every time I was given a check I had to go to the bank that issued the check to get it cashed and there, of course, is a fee attached to that." She continues, "Basically I was paying money out of pocket to compensate for the fact that I didn't have a bank account."
At the FHR workshops Alyssa embraced tools to budget and keep track of her finances. During the banking class she was surprised to learn of "second chance" bank accounts- bank accounts for people on ChexSystems. In disbelief that such accounts existed, she inquired more. On the spot Scott gave her the number of a banker at Sterling Bank who would help her set up her own second chance bank account. Alyssa immediately followed up after the class.
A couple weeks later, Alyssa returned to IC$ grinning: she had just opened a bank account. She reported that this was a life changing experience. "I was able to open a bank account and now I have a checking account, savings account, and online banking!" She reflects that her experience at Sterling made her think differently about banks- they are not all the same, "Sterling Bank actually treats you like a real human being, which shouldn't be too much to ask for from your bank but sadly it is in our society at the moment," she says.
|Spotlight: Emmy Callero
This month we are excited to introduce you to our newest staff member: Emilia, or Emmy, Callero. Freshly graduated from PSU, with a Master's in Public Administration and focus on women's global leadership and management, Emmy has prior experience in social work and legal assistance for recent immigrants in Portland. As a graduate student she worked with Adelante Mujeres to design and implement a community based program evaluation. In addition to the work done locally, Emmy has over two years of international experience working on a variety of community and economic development projects focused on women and children in Mexico, Peru and India.
Emmy's past experience will be a great asset to our programs and we are happy to report that she is settling in nicely (despite the daunting task of learning our barrage of systems). Her focal area is to expand our outreach and service provision to the Latino community. She will be delving into this right away, as she is set to co-teach our next two rounds of financial household resiliency workshops, in English in June and in Spanish in July. Keep reading to get to know Emmy better!
What were you doing before you came to Innovative Changes?
Before coming to Innovative Changes I was finishing my Master's degree in Public Administration and an internship with the Office of the Auditor at Metro Regional Government.
What drew you to the position/organization?
I have long been fascinated with micro-finance programs that are addressing the issues of access to capital and services. I was able to incorporate this interest into my degree and I was looking for a career that would allow me to work with women, speak Spanish, and incorporate my passion and interest for economic justice. This position seemed like a perfect fit for me!
What have your first couple weeks been like?
My first couple of weeks have been great! I have been learning a lot about the new industry that I am working in and loving every minute it. I have also had the opportunity to meet one on one with clients in coaching sessions and it has proven to be a very challenging and rewarding experience so far.
What will be your main responsibilities?
I will be working with the Loan Program. My main responsibilities will be to manage the loan program, take lead with the Spanish speaking clients and facilitate our Spanish classes and seminars.
What are you most looking forward to in your work here? I am already learning so much about finance! I have been able to incorporate a lot of what we teach into my personal life. It is exciting to work for a young organization that is growing and full of dedicated individuals. I am looking forward to being part of a great community and to have a job that I feel will challenge me to grow both personally and professionally. There is a lot more to learn and I look forward to and I am excited to be a part of it!
|Financial Education Galore:
Upcoming Financial Household Resiliency Workshops:
Our June series of FHR has started, but it's not too late to sign up today!
Tuesday, June 12th 5:30-7:30 pm: Budgeting and Saving
Tuesday, June 19th 5:30-7:30 pm: Hands-On Banking
Tuesday, June 26th 5:30-7:30 pm: Building, Repairing and Protecting Credit
Our classes will be held near our Lloyd Center office on the 3rd floor of the Lloyd Center Mall (between Nordstroms and the food court), 2025 Lloyd Center.
To Register: visit our website or call or email Misha at (503)-249-5205/ firstname.lastname@example.org.
The classes and the seminar are open to everyone. The classes can be taken individually or as a series. They are $5 each and $15 for all four classes. Fee waivers are available for those who qualify.
Monthly Seminars and Events:
Student Loan Consolidation and Repayment Plans
In this workshop participants will learn how to take an inventory of outstanding student loans, keep student loans in good standing, and create a manageable plan for repayment. Other topics of interest will include: the consequences of student loan default, how to rehabilitate student loans that are in default, the Income Based Repayment plan and its benefits, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
- Sunday, June 17th at the Kenton Library from 12:30-1:30pm.
Good in the Hood
Look for us in the information village at Good in the Hood on Saturday June 23rd. We will be holding mini-seminars throughout the afternoon so stop by and say hello! The weekend festival is June 22-24 at the Lillis-Albina Park located on N. Flint and Russell Streets.
Back to School Budgeting
Back to school time can be hectic. New routines, new teachers, new friends, new clothes: there is a lot of "new" to get used to. In this workshop on Back to School Budgeting we will go over tips and tools so that you can use the beginning of the school year as a time to reset, get organized and hone in on systems that will keep you and your household on track throughout the year. Budgeting is a key step to help you plan for unexpected expenses that come at the beginning, middle and end of the school year. Come to this workshop and start taking the steps that will lead to a more organized, prepared and enjoyable year!
Tuesday, July 10th at Albina Library 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
Join attorney Elizabeth Hallock and IC$ to discuss the basics of bankruptcy. When is a good time to file for bankruptcy? What are the different types of bankruptcy? How will this effect my credit in the long term? Gain access to resources and more at this informative seminar!
- Tuesday, July 17th, 2025 Lloyd Center Mall from 5:30-6:30
No registration required for seminar hosted at libraries. Please sign up for the Lloyd Center seminars by calling or emailing Misha at (503)-249-5205/ email@example.com.
|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 next orientation will be:
- Monday, June 18th 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!
Quick StatsAs of 6/6/2012
361, averaging $469.94 for a total of $169,628.20
Revolved amount: $128,242.02
Repaid loans: 187
Financial education clients: